Live 5 News Investigates: Tracking bad babysitters

Live 5 News Investigates: Tracking bad babysitters
Published: Nov. 4, 2013 at 7:58 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 4, 2013 at 11:44 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Live 5 News investigation has revealed a little known registry where parents can find out if their babysitter is a convicted child abuser.

The South Carolina central child abuse registry is run by the South Carolina Department of Social Services, and was created by state lawmakers back in the 1980's.

But you can't search it without special permission.

"You have to have consent from the person you investigate," said Dr. Don Elsey of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center.

State law prevents the public from getting on the registry, unless they follow certain steps.

If you want to find out if your babysitter is on there, you need written permission from the caregiver you're checking out.

"They have the person they want to check sign a release form that is sent to DSS in Columbia, and Columbia returns with either they're on the registry or they're not on the registry," Elsey explained.

It's not free to search the registry.

Depending on who is doing the background check, it will cost either eight or twenty $25.00 to find out.

"I think that the fact that anyone can access it, as long as they get permission, I think that's really helpful," Elsey said

It's a lot more difficult than accessing the state's sex offender registry which is run by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

That registry is free and anyone can go on it to find out if a convicted sex offender lives in his or her neighborhood.

"A lot of people look at the sex offender registry and think whew, I'm good to go and that is one area. But it's not all areas where someone could possibly be found to be unsafe," Elsey said.

So if you want to find out if your babysitter is a child abuser, you may want to check the central registry.

But remember, you need the sitter's written signature to find out.

If the sitter says no, that should be a sign for you to look for someone else.

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