Daycare centers using biometrics to protect kids

Concern about the security of children in childcare centers has caused many facilities to adopt biometric security systems across the United States.

As parent Melissa Steffes of Rice, Minnesota pointed out, the presence of biometrics leaves an impression that the daycare center is “doing everything they can to be proactive and taking advantage of the technology.”

That added security gives parents peace of mind in knowing that anyone picking up a child from the center goes through identity verification. Biometric technology installed in childcare centers ensures that only parents or authorized caregivers can enter and leave with a child. Biometric systems use distinctive human characteristics, such as a fingerprint or thumbprint, to identify someone before the door will unlock.

Learning Curve Child Center and Preparatory Preschool in Gilbert, Arizona, owned by Ted Pichler, is one of the first in the U.S. to adopt biometrics when it opened in 2004.

The Playhouse Child Care Center in Sartell, Minn has also installed fingerprint biometrics. Co-director for Playhouse, Molly Olmscheid said using fingerprint ID unit is more secure and is easier for parents than remembering a code.

Jessica Ward whose two children attend the Playhouse said: “I’m all about more security when it comes to my kids.”

Cases of families involved in custody disputes are increasing. A fingerprint system can help avoid problems especially if one parent is not allowed to pick up the child, because, according to Pichler: “There’s no way for them to access the center. There’s no way of faking it or bypassing the system or anything like that.”

Procare Software, an Oregon-based company that sells security and access systems to child care centers, has seen a significant increase on sales of biometric-enabled units from 790 units in 2009 to 2,210 last year.

Although security is the foremost reason for installing biometrics, there are other benefits as well.

Shawna DeVore, executive software consultant of Procare Software said: “The systems also help day care providers track children and hours spent at the center for billing purposes and to prevent fraud. And they’re a good tool for communicating with parents, who can view their child’s schedule, balance owed and other information when they sign in.”

For parents who are worried of being fingerprinted as it invades privacy, DeVore said, the information isn‘t stored or sent to the FBI.

In choosing a child care center, would you give priority to those with biometric security systems installed?

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