Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017

HR 695 : To amend the National Child Protection Act of 1993 to establish a national criminal history background check system and criminal history review program for certain individuals who, related to their employment, have access to children, the elderly, or indi

Introduced January 24, 2017

Read the Official Bill Text

The purpose of the bill is to close a gaping hole in the federal law that prevents camps, children’s groups, mentoring organizations, after-school programs and other organizations that work with children or vulnerable adults from gaining access to federal criminal background checks on employees and volunteers.

The Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA) is a bipartisan bill that would allow organizations serving vulnerable populations (children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities) to conduct fast, accurate and affordable background checks on prospective volunteers and employees.

The FBI’s fingerprint-based background checks are a critical component of a comprehensive background check process, but thousands of organizations don’t have access or they are too expensive to afford.

CPIA builds on the success of the PROTECT Act’s Child Safety pilot which ran from 2003 until 2011. The pilot provided direct access to FBI fingerprint background checks for a variety of child-serving nonprofit organizations. Well over 100,000 background checks were performed during the pilot and found that more than 6 percent of the potential volunteers had criminal records of concern (based on criterion offenses established specifically for the pilot). Forty-two percent of the individuals with criminal records of concern had crimes in states other than where they were applying to volunteer – meaning that only a nationwide check would have flagged these individuals’ criminal records.

Specifically, CPIA amends the National Child Protection Act of 1993 to establish a permanent background check system. The bill:

  • Ensures that organizations that serve vulnerable populations (children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities) nationwide have access to FBI fingerprint background checks. No organization would be required to utilize these fingerprint checks under CPIA.
    Protects privacy rights by ensuring that the specifics of a criminal record are never disclosed without explicit consent by the volunteer or potential staff and provide an opportunity for individuals to correct errors in their records with the FBI.
  • Does NOT authorize new spending. The program will be supported by the fees assessed for performing the background checks. Specifically, CPIA caps the cost of such a check at no more than $18.

At its core, CPIA is about providing information to organizations to enable discussion and informed decision-making about potential volunteers and staff wishing to work with children and other vulnerable populations.

Under CPIA, a criminal record would NOT automatically disqualify someone from volunteering.

CPIA directly benefits millions of children and adults across the nation who are involved with mentoring organizations, after-school programs, youth sports, summer camps, and more.