Proposed Legislation Would Allow Summer Camps and Youth Organizations to Access FBI Sex Offender Background Checks

 Criminal-Background-Check

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) has launched a campaign to pass his bipartisan legislation – Child Protection Improvements and Electronic Life and Safety Security Systems Act of 2015 – that would change the federal law preventing summer camps and other not-for-profit youth organizations from access to Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) sex offender background checks on employees and volunteers, according to a press release on Senator Schumer’s website.

“Right now, there is a serious gap in federal law that is making it harder for summer camps, day cares and other child-serving organizations to fully screen their paid and volunteer applicants,” Senator Schumer stated in the press release. “These groups, tasked with ensuring the safety of children day in and day out, should never have any difficulty when it comes to accessing the FBI background checks they need to ensure dangerous predators are allowed nowhere near our kids.”

Under current law, Schumer explained that many children’s summer camps, day cares, and charity organizations in to New York State only have access to the State’s criminal database. The Child Protection Improvements and Electronic Life and Safety Security Systems Act of 2015  would create a nationally accessible background check solution for youth organizations, and ensure access to federal FBI fingerprint background checks. Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Facilitate widespread access to nationwide background searches, by requiring the Attorney General to designate a team to process state and federal background checks on prospective employees and volunteers for youth organizations and for employees in the electronic life safety and security systems industry.
  • 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. After background checks are run, employers will be notified if an applicant has a conviction or open arrest for any offenses like crimes of violence, crimes against children, or sex offenses. Employers can then determine if they want to hire the applicant.

Schumer explained that individuals undergoing background checks are provided an opportunity to challenge the accuracy and completeness of their records with the FBI and are ensured that the privacy of their records will be protected. This bill is entirely paid for by fees from the entities seeking background checks, and requires no new authorizations or appropriations. In addition, this bill does not impose any new or unfunded mandates on the states, according to the press release.

Statistics from the expired PROTECT Act Child Safety Pilot revealed that 77,000 background checks performed on volunteers found more than 6 percent had criminal records that included sexual abuse of minors, assaults, murder, and drug offenses. In addition, more than 40 percent of individuals with criminal records committed an offense in a state other than where they were applying to volunteer, meaning a state-only search would not have found the criminal records.

ESR Offers Volunteer Background Checks

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) provides background checks for non-profit, youth, church, and volunteer organizations to protect against registered sex offenders working as volunteers. The ESR Volunteer Check helps these organizations stay safe, mitigate risk, and avoid potential liability lawsuits while protecting against the likelihood of sexual misconduct and violence. To learn more, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Services/ESR-Volunteer-Check.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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