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Congress Names NCYS In The Protect Act As A Particpant In An Eighteen Month Background Checks Child Safety Pilot Project!

Sally S. Cunningham, CSA
Executive Director
National Council of Youth Sports

STUART, Florida. (October 2, 2002) Child safety legislation for reliable and rapid background checks with one national database that is federally funded is NCYS' ultimate advocacy goal. As the first step to that end, NCYS is honored and excited to be one of three organizations named in the PROTECT Act that will participate in an eighteen-month pilot project whereby 100,000 background checks (33,000 for each organization) will be performed by the FBI.

The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) membership represents 52 million participants in organized youth sports. Given the fact that some youngsters play more than one sport -- that's actually 38 million boys and girls partaking in NCYS member programs and that's alot of political influence!

NCYS respectfully offers its appreciation to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch(R-UT) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner(R-WI) as well as Senator Joseph Biden(D-DE). They worked diligently with the committee conferees in order to achieve this pilot project. Their staffs, too, are to be commended for their laborious and determined efforts.

It is not only our desire but also our fundamental responsibility to realize our ultimate determined goal for free, easily acceptable background checks regardless of one’s economic circumstances. This child safety pilot program is the first step in a vital child safety initiative. At the appropriate time, we are prepared to mobilize our grassroots millions and move our public relations vehicles forward to secure a meaningful, sound and effective piece of child safety legislation for reliable and rapid background checks with one national database that is federally funded so that our innocent children will be protected from abuse and sexual victimization.

The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) will continue to lead the way organizing our nation's major youth serving organizations to expand the National Child Protection Act and Volunteers for Children Improvement Act of 2002. Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) and U.S. House of Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) originally introduced the bill.

The following are the "plus" amendments to the National Child Protection Act and Volunteers for Children Improvement Act of 2002 as proposed by the National Council of Youth Sports.

1. Protect children from abuse or injury by providing a means for program administrators and designated background check committees of not-for-profit youth-serving organizations to have access to comprehensive, reliable, rapid and free reports concerning criminal arrests, indictments and/or convictions of any person who has executed a written waiver and is or seeks to have significant contact with minors so that they can make informed screening decisions.

2. Provide civil immunity (or in the alternative an affirmative defense) to nonprofit organizations that can demonstrate that they obtained the background information provided in a reasonable and prudent fashion and relied on it as a complete report of criminal arrests, indictments and/or convictions.

Comprehensive criminal background information shall be provided to nonprofit corporations and entities of federal, state or local governments.

Background information shall be made available for volunteers as well as paid staff provided written waivers are obtained.

Information included in the background reports shall include the same information concerning arrests, indictments and convictions as would be provided to a law enforcement agency seeking a criminal record.

Agencies providing such information shall be required to establish and employ policies and procedures to assure that the information is current and complete and includes arrests, indictments or convictions within any federal, state or county jurisdiction in the United States.

The information sought shall be available within 48 hours of request.

In order to assure the maximum protection of children and to avoid erecting any barriers to the use of this information, the reports shall be provided to the youth organization at no charge.

Background information provided under this Act must be handled in a manner that respects the privacy of individuals and the information may only be used or disclosed for purposes of making screening decisions for people who wish to have contact with minors. Organizations and individuals shall be liable for malicious or negligent use of the information outside the scope of this Act.

Youth-serving organizations who seek to avail themselves of the information available under this Act shall be required to obtain written waivers from any person whose background information is being sought.

The Attorney General shall establish whatever procedures and maintain and train whatever staff is necessary to efficiently and effectively implement the provisions of this Act.

To facilitate the accomplishment of the purposes of this Act, the Attorney General shall work with national, regional and local youth-serving organizations to identify appropriate technologies and assist them in gaining access to mobile inkless digital fingerprinting equipment and trained personnel to permit the efficient acquisition of fingerprints as part of the criminal background check.

Though nonprofit youth-serving organizations will occasionally have access to other background information that can and should be considered, given the limited resources of and severe time constraints associated with the selection of coaches, teachers, mentors, administrators and others who work with children in their programs, organizations that do acquire background information pursuant to this Act should be able to rely on the information as being complete and accurate. Therefore, the Act should provide protection to organizations that make good faith diligent efforts to discover relevant information as part of the screening process seeking to eliminate unacceptable risks of injury or abuse to children. Organizations that obtain this information and use it in a reasonable and prudent manner should be able to rely on these background checks. This can be done either by an immunity clause or by creating an affirmative defense.

House Bill H.R.5556 from 107th Congress
Senate Bill S.1868 from 107th Congress