Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Al Franken (D-MN) issued the following statements after introducing the Hatch-Franken Child Protection Improvement (CPIA) Act of 2017, a bill that will allow organizations that provide care to vulnerable populations to have access to nationwide background checks of their employees, volunteers, and coaches.
With Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) signing on as co-sponsors, there is growing bipartisan support for this commonsense proposal.
“I am committed to protecting children, the elderly, and people with disabilities from predators who would do them harm,” Hatch said. “Our bill provides organizations with critical access to the nationwide FBI fingerprint background check system, allowing caretakers to more thoroughly vet prospective employees and volunteers. This is an important step in keeping children and the defenseless safe from violent criminals and sexual predators who would otherwise slip through the cracks.”
“One of my top priorities is to protect the safety of our children,” said Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “And to help do that, we should give youth organizations that look after our kids the tools they need to make sure that their staff and volunteers are trustworthy. This bipartisan bill would improve child safety and help give parents confidence that their kids are in good hands.”
This program was originally authorized as a pilot program by the Adam Walsh Act.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conducted the background checks. During the course of that pilot program, 77,000 youth volunteers were the subject of background checks.
The background checks revealed that 6% of those applicant volunteers had a criminal history for violations such as child sexual abuse, child cruelty, murder and serious drug offenses. This program needs permanency and The Child Protection Improvements Act will give it permanency.
Specifically, CPIA amends the National Child Protection Act of 1993 to do the following:
Ensure organizations that serve children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities have access to FBI fingerprint background checks.
Cap the cost of such a check at $18.
Identify five criteria offenses that will result in a determination that a volunteer “does not meet the criteria” to serve a vulnerable population.
Statements of support:
Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA:
“For the nation’s 2,700 YMCAs, the safety and well-being of children in our care, and in the communities we serve, is a top priority. That is why we support the Child Protection Improvements Act. This legislation creates a solution to youth-serving organizations’ long-standing challenge of accessing FBI fingerprint-based background checks. These checks are vital to screening staff and volunteers fully, yet far too many organizations lack the access to do so. We thank Senator Hatch and Senator Franken for introducing CPIA and helping Ys fulfill their promise to keep children safe and secure.”
David Shapiro, CEO, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership:
“When it comes to our nation’s children, safety must always be a priority. No organization serving vulnerable populations should face barriers to background screening tools for potential staff and volunteers. In mentoring relationships, where adult mentors and the young mentees they support often meet in unsupervised settings, a comprehensive screening that includes a national FBI fingerprint background check is a critical resource in protecting young people. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership strongly supports the Child Protection Improvements Act because it ensures FBI fingerprint checks are made available to all youth-serving organizations to use as one part of their background screening process. We are grateful for Senator Hatch and Senator Franken’s leadership in reintroducing this bill in the Senate and for their commitment to protecting young people.”
This legislation is also supported by the YMCA of Northern Utah. [letter]