The ACA National Board is committed to the protection of children and youth. Because of societal events, significant news media regarding child abuse, and the expectation by parents regarding reasonable precautions for child safety, the National Board asked the National Standards Commission (NSC) to review the ACA standard concerning staff screening. The Board asked the NSC to research and consider the standards in the youth development field — with specific focus on what other organizations require regarding criminal background checks. Upon completing an environmental scan, which included other accreditation bodies, as well as national youth serving organizations, it became evident the 2006 version of the ACA standard regarding the requirement for criminal background checks (not mandatory) was NOT in line with these organizations and the industry standards. Therefore, the recommendation was made to the ACA Board of Directors to require criminal background checks on new staff eighteen years of age or older beginning in 2011. Earlier this fall, Standard HR4B was approved as MANDATORY beginning 2011.
HR4 states: Does the camp have written evidence of a policy in practice that requires screening for all camp staff with responsibility for or access to campers that includes:
(Part B) — For new camp staff 18 years and older, paid, volunteer and contracted, a criminal background check? The wording of the current standard has not changed and ACA does not dictate what type of criminal background check must be conducted.
What does this mean for your camp? The current compliance rate for HR4B is already very high — so your camp may not need to make any changes. If you were not currently meeting this standard, you must begin setting up a process to conduct criminal background checks on all new staff over the age of eighteen (paid, volunteer, and contracted). ALL CAMPS MUST COME INTO COMPLIANCE WITH STANDARD HR4B for the 2011 season! We at ACA realize that conducting a criminal background check is just one method by which camps work to be create a safe environment for campers and we agree with other accrediting bodies and youth serving agencies that it is a very important practice.
ACA has developed a number of resources to help your camp understand the options available when performing criminal background checks. Our resources include an online e-Institute course: Criminal Background Checks — Dispelling the Myths and Confronting the Realities , and a resource page  full of excellent articles and links.
Should you have any questions regarding this revision to the ACA Standards, please contact Rhonda Mickelson at firstname.lastname@example.org