Audit Report: DOE-OIG-20-35

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March 11, 2020

The Children’s Center at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

The Children’s Center at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermi) is managed by Fermi Research Alliance, LLC, the management and operating contractor.  It offers childcare services to all Fermi Research Alliance, LLC and Department of Energy employees, facility users, and long-term onsite subcontractors.  Fermi is expected to adhere to all applicable laws and regulations, including the Crime Control Act of 1990.  The Crime Control Act of 1990 requires every childcare facility operated by, or under contract with, the Federal Government to ensure that all existing and newly-hired employees undergo criminal background checks.  The background check is to be based on a set of the employee’s fingerprints obtained by a law enforcement officer and on other identifying information. 

Fermi must also adhere to requirements set forth by the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC).  NAC provides the Children’s Center with requirements on written employee records, work history, transcripts/diplomas and certificates of training, screening for references, criminal history background checks, and immediate notification of staff member’s criminal convictions.  NAC also requires at least one staff member with a current certification in infant/child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and pediatric first aid be present with each group of children at all times.  Additionally, all staff members must receive training every 2 years on exposure to blood and potential blood-containing body fluids, as well as child abuse and neglect.  Further, NAC requires that each staff member counted in the staff-to-child ratio have a minimum of 20 hours of annual training in early childhood/child development.  To implement the requirements of NAC, the FermiLab Children’s Center Work Processes Manual requires employees to fulfill 20 in-service training hours per year.  In addition to these professional hours, FermiLab Children’s Center Work Processes Manual requires employees to be up-to-date with CPR, First Aid, Bloodborne Pathogens, and Child Abuse training.  We initiated this audit to determine whether the Children’s Center at Fermi was managed in accordance with the Crime Control Act of 1990 and requirements set forth by NAC.

We found that Fermi had not managed its Children’s Center in compliance with all applicable requirements.  Specifically, background checks on Fermi’s Children’s Center employees were not always completed in accordance with applicable laws, the contract, policies, and procedures.  We identified that 5 of the 18 employees did not have any background checks performed until the initiation of our audit in June 2018.  Further, we found that 13 employees did not have background checks based on fingerprints; 10 employees with completed background checks were missing Sex Offender Registry checks; and 1 employee did not have her work history verified prior to being hired.  We also found that Fermi had not ensured that 10 of the 18 Children’s Center employees met the minimum 20-hour training requirement.  Additionally, some employees had not met the required CPR, First Aid, Bloodborne Pathogens, and Child Abuse trainings.  To address the concerns noted in the report, we made five recommendations to help improve Fermi Children’s Center operations.  Management concurred with the report’s recommendations and indicated that corrective actions have been taken to address the issues identified in the report.

Topic: Management & Administration