Bishop reintroduces bill to give child-focused groups access to national background screenings

Organizations serving the youth would have access to national background checks for staff and volunteers under bipartisan legislation reintroduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) on Tuesday.

Organizations that serve the youth currently have access to state-level background checks for volunteers and staff members, which doesn’t allow for information to be shared across state lines.

Bishop and U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA) to give organizations access to national background checks through the FBI.

“Congress has a duty to ensure every youth-serving organization in America can afford and access the very best background checks on staff and volunteers, and doing so means utilizing the FBI’s gold-standard database,” Bishop said. “We cannot allow a single bad actor to slip through the cracks when it comes to our children’s safety. Protecting kids was a top priority of mine in the Michigan Senate, and I am proud to continue working with Congressman Schiff on this important effort.”

Organizations that serve the disabled and the elderly also would have access to FBI fingerprint searches under the bill. The legislation would protect privacy rights by ensuring that criminal record information is never disclosed without consent from a volunteer or employee. Individuals also would have an opportunity to correct any errors in the record.

“When parents send their children to after-school programs, sports camps or to be with mentors, they must be able to trust that their children are in safe hands,” Schiff said. “Every organization that serves our youth should have access to the FBI fingerprint-based background check system so they can thoroughly screen anyone who will be working with kids.”

Schiff added, “The results of a multi-year pilot program strongly indicate that this system will be effective in catching child predators who try to avoid detection by moving across state lines.”

The legislation, which does not authorize any new spending, would be supported through fees assessed for background checks from organizations that request them.