U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken today announced that legislation they cosponsored to help groups that work with children gain access to federal background checks when hiring employees and volunteers has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Child Protection Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), closes a gaping hole in federal law that prevents many camps, children's groups and other youth-serving organizations from gaining access to federal criminal background checks on employees and volunteers.
"As a former prosecutor, I know firsthand how important it is to know who is working with our kids,"Klobuchar said. "This legislation takes important steps to ensure that all groups have access to the information they need to ensure that all of their employees and volunteers are fit to work with children and keep our kids safe."
"When parents put their children in daycare or send them to camp, they need to be able to trust that they are in safe hands," said Sen. Franken. "This legislation will give people working with children the access to information they need to ensure that their employees and volunteers are trustworthy."
An FBI background check is the best system available, but is not always accessible to youth camps and other youth-serving organizations. Under current law, states can decide who has access to the FBI's information -- thirty-four states bar access, and those that do allow access charge fees as high as $59 per person and have response times of up to six weeks. The Child Protection Improvement Act directs the Attorney General to establish a program to allow access for child-serving organizations to FBI criminal background checks in order ensure that potential employees and volunteers do not have criminal records.