CHILD beaters have no business being in a day care. On that, we're certain most people would agree. But the state Department of Human Services is letting it happen anyway, despite a policy that prohibits child abusers and many other former criminals from operating, working in or even being in child care centers or home day cares. That's one of the disturbing conclusions in an ongoing Oklahoman investigation into DHS. Parents should read carefully today's reports in The Oklahoman and on NewsOK.com about how DHS allows exemptions to the policy. In the 19-month-period investigated, reporters Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis and former database editor Ryan McNeill found that DHS grants more exemptions than it declines. And while owners must post exemptions, they aren't required to disclose what crimes were committed. DHS Director Howard Hendrick acknowledged that the policy allowing exemptions may sometimes be "inappropriately applied.” That's an understatement. The investigation uncovered some exemptions that would give any parent pause. Last year, DHS let a convicted felon open a day care in Oklahoma City after she was imprisoned for distributing drugs, among other things. Another person seeking an exemption submitted a reference from the assistant manager of a convenience store where he shopped. Three exemptions went to people involved in hurting children, including a man who hit his 3-month-old in the face for crying and another who broke a baby's leg. Reporters focused their investigation on exemption requests from January 2006 to July 19, 2007. What worse examples might be out there that the public and, more importantly, parents don't know about? It's obvious this policy needs revisiting. Some of the exemption requests clearly weren't properly vetted, including cases where DHS workers didn't review criminal case records. We'd also suggest more specific criteria about who is and isn't eligible for an exemption. The policy also needs to make sure DHS isn't too reliant on testimonies of those who know the person seeking an exemption. Obviously, no one is going to solicit a negative letter. And once again, the policy and parental notification must be more transparent. Parents should have easy access to information about granted exemptions, including the full request and information about the subject's crime or crimes. We understand wanting to give people a second chance. People change. Decades-old crimes or bad decisions made as a youth shouldn't automatically disqualify someone who wants to live in a home that houses a day care. Such policy, though, must take a distant back seat to child safety. Second chances can't come at the expense of children unable to protect themselves. Caution and transparency must rule the process.