U.S. Senator Tom Udall has announced that he is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that would enable children’s groups, summer camps, and other youth-serving non-profit associations to gain access to federal criminal background checks on new employees and volunteers. He discussed the legislation yesterday during a visit with the Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails in Albuquerque.
Under current law, organizations like the Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails lack access to the FBI criminal databases, which are widely considered the most accurate and complete criminal databases. This bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York, would give those organizations access to FBI background checks for volunteers and new employees, enabling them to check for violent or sex crimes committed anywhere in the country.
“We need to do everything we can to keep our sons and daughters safe from violent predators, and organizations like the Girls Scouts should be able to access this federal background check data to fully screen applicants for jobs that serve our children,” said Udall. “Youth clubs and camps help kids grow into engaged community members, and I am proud to support this legislation that will help protect our children from criminals that have no place in their lives.”
The bill that Udall is supporting, the Child Protection Improvements and Electronic Life and Safety Security Systems Act, 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-serving organizations. This would give participating organizations reliable and accurate information as to whether an individual’s criminal record bears upon his fitness to work or volunteer with children. After a check is run, an employer will be notified if an applicant has a conviction or open arrest for any offenses like crimes of violence, crimes against children, and sex offenses, among others. The employer can then make the determination of whether to go ahead with the hiring.
This bill has been endorsed by: Afterschool Alliance, American Camp Association, America’s Promise Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Camp Fire USA, Communities In Schools, Inc., First Focus, GLSEN – the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, National Collaboration for Youth, and YMCA of the USA.