Youth Agencies Want Background Checks But Complain They’re Stuck With The Tab: Making Background Checks Easier

Patrick Boyle
January 1, 1998

Several new and proposed measures from the White House and Congress would make it easier for youth serving organizations to check on the criminal histories of prospective employees and volunteers:

Volunteers for Children Act — Introduced in September by Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), this bill seeks to close a loophole in the Child Protection Act of 1993. The 1993 Act allows states to establish procedures for specific youth serving organizations to request FBI fingerprint checks on prospective employees and volunteers. Only a few states have enacted legislation to grant that access.

The new act would apply only in states where no laws exist governing youth group access to national fingerprint checks on volunteers. Youth organizations in those states would be authorized to request fingerprint checks through the state agency that is already designated to handle such requests for other organizations. (That agency is usually the attorney general’s office or a public safety department.)

The proposal was immediately supported by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Florida Catholic Conference.
Child Protection Act of 1997 — Introduced in July by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), this Act would amend the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It would establish a national hotline which anyone could call to learn whether an individual is registered as a convicted sex offender. The act builds on existing federal law requiring each state to establish a sex offender registration program.

National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact — Proposed by President Clinton and sent to Congress, the compact is designed to make background checks on child care providers easier and more effective. It would eliminate state laws that prohibit states from sharing criminal history information for anything other than criminal investigations. This compact has to be passed by Congress and ratified by the states. “We have to weed out the people who have no business taking care of our children in the first place,” says Clinton.

Adoption and Safe Families Act — Passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Clinton in November. While its main intent is to speed the adoption of abused and neglected children, the law also requires national criminal records checks for all prospective foster and adoptive parents.

Boyle, Patrick. "Youth Agencies Want Background Checks But Complain They’re Stuck With The Tab: Making Background Checks Easier." Youth Today, January/February 1998, p. 37.

©2000 Youth Today. Reprinted with permission from Youth Today. All rights reserved.