The House of Representatives Passes H.R. 695, the Child Protection Improvements Act

Abbie Evans, Sr. Director, Government Relations at MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership
May 23rd, 2017
Posted In:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 23, 2017     

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSES H.R. 695, THE CHILD PROTECTION IMPROVEMENTS ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The House of Representatives passed H.R. 695 the Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA), a bipartisan bill focused on protecting vulnerable populations (children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities) through access to FBI fingerprint background checks. These fingerprint-based checks are a critical part of a comprehensive background screening process, but thousands of organizations don’t have access or cannot afford them.

1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Unfortunately, 60% of those who sexually abuse children are known to the family, making it critical that all adults volunteering or working with kids receive comprehensive background checks.

CPIA provides critical information to organizations to enable informed decision-making about potential volunteers and staff applying to work with children and other vulnerable populations. The bill creates a system that allows youth-serving organizations to access the national FBI criminal database to supplement state background checks and other screening tools when vetting applicants. It simultaneously protects the privacy rights of applicants and lays out a process by which they can correct errors in their records directly with the FBI.

CPIA builds on the success of the PROTECT Act Child Safety pilot that ran from 2003 until 2011, which provided child-serving nonprofit organizations access to the FBI fingerprint database. During the initial pilot, over 100,000 fingerprint background checks were performed and it was found that more than 6 percent of the prospective volunteers had criminal records of concern. Forty-two percent of the individuals with the most concerning records had committed serious crimes in states other than the one in which they applied to volunteer – demonstrating that only a nationwide database check would have flagged these individuals’ criminal records.

“When parents send their children to after-school programs, sports camps, or mentoring programs, they must be able to trust that their children are in safe hands,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said. “Organizations that serve 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. The results of a multi-year pilot program strongly indicate that this system is effective in catching child predators who try to avoid detection by moving across state lines.”

“As a father of three, I know there is nothing more important than our children’s safety,” said Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI). “When they participate in camps and after-school activities, parents deserve to have full peace of mind that their kids are in good hands. Many top-notch youth-serving organizations agree and want to ensure they are hiring the best possible employees and volunteers, as well.”

David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, commented on the passing of the bill“MENTOR strongly supports the passage of the Child Protection Improvements Act and would like to thank the House Judiciary Committee for their support and House Leadership for bringing this critical and commonsense piece of legislation to the floor for a vote. We are grateful to Representatives Schiff and Bishop for their leadership in introducing this bill and for their continued bipartisan commitment to giving organizations serving young people the best tools to protect them.”

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About MENTOR

MENTOR is the unifying national organization for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships and connecting volunteers to opportunities in their local communities. MENTOR’s mission is to close the “mentoring gap” and ensure our nation’s young people have the support they need through quality mentoring relationships to succeed at home, school, and ultimately, work.

Contact: Abbie Evans | Sr. Director, Government Relations | 202.688.4739| aevans@mentoring.org