American Camp Association Urges National System for Employee Background Checks

As summer camp season approaches, the American Camp Association is urging passage of a law that would make the screening of potential employees and volunteers more possible. “A gaping hole” exists in federal law that keeps camps and other youth organizations from accessing federal criminal background checks, said Peg Smith, chief executive of the American Camp Association. “Most parents assume there’s a national system and there’s not,” she said. She urges passage of the Child Protection Improvements Act introduced in the Senate in July by Sen. Charles Schumer. The bill would set up a single clearinghouse to process background checks – either within the FBI or overseen by the FBI. Currently, the federal system is accessible in fewer than half of states, said Elena Rocha, director of youth development policy and partnerships for YMCA of the USA. “FBI checks are a critical part of an effective screening strategy,” she said. Under the Schumer legislation, a clearinghouse would approve organizations that could use the service. Potential employees or volunteers would be able to see their history and challenge the accuracy of it.

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