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Bill Provides Access to Fingerprint-Based FBI Background Checks for Youth-Serving Organizations

Indianapolis, IN (April 5, 2011) - The Child Protection Improvements Act, S 645 and HR 1360, has been reintroduced into both houses of Congress. This bipartisan bill expands and makes permanent a background check pilot program created in the PROTECT Act of 2004. The bill allows youth-serving organizations access to timely, inexpensive, fingerprint-based checks of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's criminal records database.

In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer (NY) and has gained wide-ranging bipartisan support. The same bill was introduced in the House yesterday by Representatives Adam Schiff (CA) and Mike Rogers (MI). It also has gained bipartisan support. This identical bill passed the House in the last session of Congress by a vote of (412-4)

As participants in the pilot program, the American Camp Association® (ACA) is encouraged by the reintroduction of the bill as it moves this country one step closer to a law that will allowcamps, children's groups, and other nonprofit organizations to gain access to FBI criminal background checks.

Under the pilot program, of the nearly 90,000 checks conducted, 6.1 percent returned with records that deemed applicants unfit to work with children. Forty percent of these were convicted in another state, meaning only a national search would have caught the criminal record. A significant number of these individuals showed a different name on their record than the one they used to apply.

"As a constant advocate for child safety, ACA supports passing legislation that provides access to vital information that can help keep our children safe," said Peg Smith, ACA's chief executive officer. "By allowing access to the FBI database, youth-serving organizations will be able to get timely, accurate, and affordable background checks on staff and volunteers."

The safety of our nation's children is paramount. ACA thanks Senator Schumer, and Representatives Schiff and Rogers for their dedicated work on this important issue. ACA is calling the youth-development community to action to advocate for swift passage of S 645 and HR 1360.

ACA partnered with other youth-serving organizations to bring this issue to Congress, including the Afterschool Alliance, 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.

About ACA
The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org.



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