Biden Bill Helps Non-Profits Protect Kids
In an effort to protect our children and provide non-profit organizations with easy access to thorough, efficient criminal background checks, U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) today introduced legislation to extend the Child Safety Pilot Program for an additional 30-month period. This program, which Senator Biden helped create through The PROTECT Act of 2003, was created to make nationwide FBI fingerprint background checks accessible to youth-serving organizations at a reasonable cost and with quick turnaround time. It will also change the original program so that more youth-serving organizations can participate and will shorten the time frame given to the FBI in which to return the results of the background check.
"When a parent drops their kid off at Little League practice or the local Boys & Girls Club, we want to be certain they are safe. They usually are, and youth-serving organizations do their best to do background checks on new employees and volunteers," said Biden. "But these groups can only do so much. They send information and fingerprints on prospective workers to their state criminal identification agencies. But if the prospective worker spent time in another state, or if a state's records are not up to date, kids' safety can be put in jeopardy. That is not acceptable. We can and must do better."
Senator Biden's original National Child Safety Pilot Program performed over 10,000 background checks. In those performed checks, 7.5% of all workers screened had an arrest or conviction in their record. Crimes discovered were serious: rape, child sexual abuse, murder, and domestic battery. Half of those individuals were not truthful in their job application and instead stated they did not have a criminal record. Over one-quarter (28%) of applicants with a criminal record had crimes from states other than where they were applying to work.
"If we didn't create the Child Safety Pilot Program in 2003, hundreds of employers may not have known that their applicants had a criminal record," noted Biden. "If we don't extend this vital program, thousands more pedophiles and criminals could slip through the cracks and gain access to vulnerable kids."
Each year, more than 87 million children are involved in activities provided by child and youth organizations that depend heavily on volunteers to deliver their services.
"There are a lot of organizations out there that have great intentions, but they don't have adequate access to the FBI's national fingerprint database. This means that while an employee or volunteer may pass a background check in one state, he may have been convicted of a felony in another," noted Biden. "Our children, our parents, and the disadvantaged are at risk and they need our help. This bill will make it safer for non-profit organizations to give their communities the safe and effective service they deserve."
The bill, which is cosponsored by Orrin Hatch (R-UT), has been endorsed by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the National Mentoring Partnership, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.