Court: Old conviction can’t bar woman from child care work

SEATTLE (AP) — A woman who was disqualified from working in child care because of a decades-old conviction for purse-snatching may get another chance under a split ruling from Washington’s Supreme Court.

Christal Fields was a 22-year-old, homeless domestic violence victim in 1988 when she tried to steal a woman’s purse to support her drug addiction. She pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree robbery, which automatically barred her from being approved to work with children.

But in 2006, Fields entered King County’s drug court program. She’s been sober ever since and discovered she loved working with children. She began working at a Seattle daycare in 2013, but six months later, after a local television news story about people with criminal records working at daycares, the state barred her.

The justices ruled 5-4 that it was unconstitutional for the state to automatically deprive Fields of the ability to work in childcare solely based on her old conviction. The majority said the state must have a hearing to consider her qualifications.