Camps Want a National Background Check System

Jennifer Gladstone

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Are They Asking for the Right Solution?

EBI BackgroundScreeningYou might be dreaming of those lazy, hazy days of summer, but for millions of kids across the country the next two and a half months are all about swimming in lakes, trying their hand at things like archery and singing around campfires.  It’s the stuff great childhood memories are made of.

As campers finish school and pack up, camps are still trying to fill positions.  According to the American Camp Association’s website there are almost 900 open camp jobs across the country. With campers arriving any day now, the hiring process is going to have to move quickly. 

Most parents assume camps are doing everything they can to make sure they don’t hire people who will pose a danger, but it’s not that easy.

Peg Smith, chief executive of the American Camp Association told YouthToday.org, "A gaping hole exists in federal law that keeps camps and other youth organizations from accessing federal criminal background checks.  Most parents assume there’s a national system and there’s not.”

With the support of Senator Chuck Schumer, the Camp Association is seeking to pass the Child Protection Improvements Act. The bill aims to give camps and other children’s groups access to federal criminal databases to do background checks on staff and volunteers.

If passed the bill would create a “one-stop” system where a local organization could get state and FBI information in one place for $25 or less.

From an initial glance you would think this is a comprehensive solution, but FBI and many state criminal record repositories are full of holes.  A U.S. Department of Justice report revealed that the database has an overwhelming amount of flaws.

As stated in the U.S. Depart of Justice 2006 report, “Users may not want to rely exclusively on an FBI and state repository check and may also want to check other record sources, such as commercial databases and local courthouses to obtain more complete and up-to-date information in support of criminal history background screening. In addition to the data quality issue of obtaining comprehensive criminal record information, there is the issue of ensuring that users are provided information that is accurate and up-to-date.

Under this proposed bill, volunteer organizations will rely upon flawed and incomplete data as their sole source of criminal information.

Summer camps face several challenges that are unique.  First, some are open just a few months a year and hires take place in a rush.  Staff and volunteers can come from all over the country- or even internationally- which also makes background checks more complicated.  The camp community feels this legislation is the best way to fix the problems and overcome these challenges. But background check experts are not so sure….

EBI Chief Knowledge Officer Bob Capwell says, “Comprehensive due diligence will never be achieved with the criminal information described in the bill.  Only a comprehensive criminal background check where an applicant has lived, worked, or even gone to school will return complete results directly from the original reporting court."

Capwell also says you can only rely on experts that utilize highly qualified court researchers that are fully vetted with the specific jurisdictional knowledge required to deliver the highest quality information.  An inexpensive state and FBI database search will only uncover limited information, which could produce a clean background check on someone with past convictions.

In addition to all of the above, a national search of all sex offender registries should be conducted to uncover any potential past sexual misconduct.

This might sound like a lot to do for each and every hire, but today’s technology makes it possible and cost effective.  The cost of neglecting this important aspect of hiring is immeasurable.

Employment Background Investigations is a technology driven leader in domestic and global pre-employment background checks, drug testing, occupational healthcare and I-9 compliance. We specialize in development, implementation and management of customized employment screening programs for large and multi-national clients. We are dedicated to information security.  EBI is the only background screening company firm to hold an ISO 27001-2005 certification for information security and to be accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

All content provided by EBI is published for the convenience of its readers and should never be deemed as legal guidance or advice.  Always consult your legal counsel for specific advice on state laws and industry regulations.

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Jennifer Gladstone

Posted By: Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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