TODAY | March 02, 2012
>>> a cautionary tale for parents. how much do you know about who owns and operates your child's day care center ? chris hansen is here with his investigation. chris, good morning.
>> good morning. when it comes to the people who care for our children every day you may think the state does a thorough background check but as our investigation shows, in most places it's up to the parents. when that doesn't happen it can have tragic consequences. when it comes to day care , what parents wouldn't want to know their child is in safe hands like katie and robert minton .
>> we did our research on the internet. we did pop-in visits.
>> we thought as parents we were doing all we could.
>> investigators are not releasing details about what they think happened to a 2-year-old boy inside this home today.
>> reporter: tragically it was after their son joshua was asphyxiated by his caregiver they learned the woman had a criminal record and was being investigated by the state. for slapping a child, leaving children unsupervised yet she was allowed to continue to operate the day care center .
>> we didn't know anything about it.
>> we trusted the state to make sure this was a good working facility.
>> reporter: it turns out only 11 states do fullback ground screenings on potential day care workers. we found thousands of day care workers with criminal records . from vehicular homicide to grand theft to domestic violence , child abuse , even manslaughter. the owner of this day care center in florida, melissa van cleeve has an arrest for battery. we had an under cover family ask her whether anyone working at the center has a criminal record .
>> no, no.
>> reporter: later, i came by.
>> do you have a criminal history ?
>> reporter: none at all?
>> reporter: there is something you need to know . i'm chris hansen with "dateline".
>> you need to go. i have a business to run. thank you.
>> reporter: you do have convictions in your past.
>> thank you.
>> reporter: let me show you.
>> no. thank you. bye-bye.
>> reporter: dui, battery, domestic violence .
>> reporter: debra giles runs a day care center in orlando, florida, never told our family about her background. in 1995 you were accused of aggravated battery --
>> i forgot about that.
>> reporter: you forgot.
>> yeah, yeah.
>> reporter: she's one of several day care operators who wasn't happy to bring up the past.
>> you're the evil one. you're the demon. i have watched your shows. you're a piece of [ bleep ].
>> reporter: i came here to give you chance to talk about this.
>> you can go and [ bleep ] a rope and pay money to get information from me. i'm embarrassed for you. you're a slug.
>> to be fair that day care operator lost his cool after several minutes of questioning. he has had a clean record since earlier problems, but you will see tonight in the investigation we found out a lot of disturbing things including a woman running a day care center who shot and killed her husband.
>> chris hansen , people can watch the full report on "dateline" tonight at 10:00 /9:00 central on