Bill would help with background checks

In a move that would make it easier for community groups to do background checks on prospective Little League coaches, summer camp instructors and others, the House on Thursday passed a bill that would make the FBI fingerprint database widely available.

The legislation, known as the PROTECT Act, is sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank).

The law would launch a pilot program to make it easier for groups to access FBI fingerprint files as an alternative to the time-consuming and costly process to use fingerprints to check the background data on volunteers.

"Giving nonprofits that work with children the ability to better screen their volunteers has a proven track record of protecting our young people," Schiff said in a statement. "The goal of this bill is to keep the cost of background checks as low as possible so that they remain affordable for the smallest nonprofits, while ensuring the program can be sustained without annual appropriations."

According to Schiff, more than 89,000 FBI fingerprint checks have been conducted through the child safety pilot, of which 6.1%of potential volunteers were found to have criminal records of concern. In addition, more than 40% of individuals with criminal records had crimes in states other than where they were applying to volunteer.

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