WASHINGTON, DC–Taking measures to improve the safety and welfare of America's children, the FBI unveiled a sweeping new program Monday mandating comprehensive background checks for all U.S. child-care providers.
The program, which bureau officials hope will reduce child abuse and neglect, does not affect the nation's approximately 150 million child-havers.
Said FBI director Louis Freeh: "To those who would prey on our nation's innocent children, this sends a loud, clear message: Get your own kids."
Parents across the U.S. are hailing the move as a step in the right direction.
"I feel better knowing that daycare providers are thoroughly checked for any possible criminal history," said Texarkana, AR, convicted child molester and father of five Darryl Lee Forster. "I don't want my kid getting touched funny by no stranger."
"Gonna make me a little blond boy," Forster added.
Brenda Furness, an unemployed Macon, GA, mother of seven, was equally pleased.
"They definitely oughta run checks to make sure all them people who work with kids are qualified," said Furness, serving her children their usual dinner of mayonnaise on crackers and Dr. Pepper. "Who knows what kind of unfit people are looking after our children? Billy Joe, quit playing with that saw and get your ass to the table this second 'fore I knock the rest of your teeth out!"
Under the new program, convicted sex offenders and violent criminals are no longer eligible to work at daycare facilities. Such individuals, however, will still be eligible to serve as parents.
In addition to mandatory background checks for employees, all U.S. childcare facilities will be required to pass rigorous twice-annual inspections. The facilities will be expected to provide a "clean, safe, supervised, educationally enriching environment." Those that fail to do so will face severe fines and possible closure.
"Some of them daycare places, I hear they just plop the kids down in front of the TV all day and don't give 'em nothing else to do," said El Paso, TX, father Bud Bass, shutting the door to drown out the noise of cartoons in the next room. "No books, no games–nothin'. How they gonna learn them kids right if they ain't got nothing for 'em to do?"
"I'm glad the government's making sure daycare places be all supervised," said Chicago mother of three Tanya Odomes, 20. "There's a lot of stuff that can happen when you don't keep an eye on kids. Like this one time last summer, I went out for a few minutes to cash a check, and my baby Anthony fell out the window. I wouldn't want no shit like that going on at no daycare."
Freeh said children are now far less likely to be harmed by unfit caretakers.
"Rest easy, parents," Freeh said. "With this tough new program in place, no one can hurt your kids but you."