Childcare advocates claim that inadequate state laws have made it easy for people with criminal convictions to get licensed to care for children—often with deadly consequences. Their evidence was often anecdotal--ripped from headlines of children dying in the care of someone whose past wasn't revealed until after the child had been harmed. When we looked into the problem we soon discovered that even when a criminal history disqualifies a potential candidate from childcare, states often grant licenses nonetheless. Parents not only aren't informed of this, but some states actively conceal this information. And we found there are no existing databases that report caregivers' criminal records or the results of background checks, so we set out to compile our own. The creation of that database then led us to an extensive, year-long data search in five states, from original arrest reports and police narratives to jail records, court records, state licensing files, exemption reports, inspection records and more. These records helped us unravel the many ways people with criminal records were able to get licensed. We then visited several centers and conducted an experiment in one state, submitting applications for childcare background checks for three women--all of them convicted murderers.