S. 1362 and H.R. 3902 Child Protection Improvements Act Reintroduced in Congress!
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- There is no single all-encompassing background check database available in this country.
- While still not all-encompassing, an FBI check is the best background check available, yet it is not always accessible to camps and other youth-serving organizations. The FBI check is the only truly nationwide check available.
- Individual states are the gatekeepers of criminal history information and they can decide who can access the information, as well as who can have access to the FBI’s information. In fact, thirty-four states bar access to FBI information! Those that do allow access to the FBI information charge significant fees (ranging from $24 – $59 per person) and have long turn-around times of up to six weeks.
The Solutions Proposed in This Bill
The purpose of the bill is to “close a gaping hole in the federal law that prevents camps, children’s groups, and other organizations that work with children from gaining access to federal criminal background checks on employees and volunteers.”
The PROTECT Act of 2004 created a pilot program whereby selected youth-serving organizations would have access to timely, inexpensive FBI background checks on potential volunteers. ACA was accepted into the program in 2005. The Child Protection Improvements Act would make the pilot program permanent and expand the program to include staff (as well as volunteers) in youth-serving programs. In addition, it would:
- Create universal access to nationwide background searches, by designating a criminal history review entity or organization to process background checks on prospective employees and volunteers for youth-serving organizations.
- Provide participating organizations with reliable and accurate information as to whether an individual’s criminal record bears upon his fitness to work or volunteer with children.
- Create a “one-stop” system where a local organization could elect to obtain both a state and FBI search in one place.
- Keep the fee for nationwide background checks and criminal history review as low as possible for youth-serving organizations at no more than the actual cost — with a maximum of $25.
- Ensure that individuals that are subject to background checks can request their full criminal histories, challenge their accuracy and completeness, and receive a prompt response from the jurisdiction holding the records.
- Of the nearly 40,000 checks conducted in the pilot program, 6.1 percent of all applicants were found to have criminal records that rendered them unfit to work with children! (This included convictions of criminal sexual conduct with a child, aggravated criminal assault, rape, homicide, and other “serious” felonies.)
- 40 percent of these individuals had a criminal record from other states, meaning that only a nationwide check would have caught the criminal record.
- 26 percent of these individuals showed a different name on their record than the one they used on their job application.
Call to Action
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