As Congress struggles with partisan issues, youth development organizations are advocating for the passage of a bill that has already gained broad-based bi-partisan support — The Child Protection Improvements Act. ACA and twenty-two other youth-serving organizations have come together to close a gaping hole in the federal law that prevents camps and other youth-serving organizations from gaining access to federal criminal background checks on employees and volunteers. Identical bills (S645 and HR1360) have been introduced into Congress by Senator Charles Schumer (NY), Representative Adam Schiff (CA), and Representative Mike Rogers (MI). (Read Representative Schiff’s press release .)
The bill would make permanent the pilot program of the PROTECT Act of 2004, expand the program to include staff (as well as volunteers) in youth-serving programs, as well as the following:
- 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 or her 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 reviews for youth-serving organizations as low as possible — 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.
ACA and our partner organizations have called our communities to action to advocate for passage of the bill. Find out how you can become involved: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy/cbc .