Our Children Left to the Wolves Again

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By: J. Glenn Hopkins, President/CEO

 An individual commits a heinous crime against a child in Montana, is convicted, serves her time, released, and then relocates to Virginia.  She applies to work in a childcare center and completes a state criminal background check form.  The Virginia State Police processes the form and finds no record that this individual committed a crime against a child in Montana.  The individual is cleared to work at the childcare center.   How is this possible? 
It may surprise some parents to know that there is no single, all-encompassing background check available in the U.S. to ensure that their childcare providers and others who come into contact with their children, including volunteers, are not sex offenders, violent offenders, or wolves in sheep’s clothing seeking to prey on children.
While still not all encompassing, a FBI fingerprint background check is the best way of vetting out those who have or would do harm to children.  This check largely covers all the states and territories through a central registry of criminal activity. Yet, the FBI fingerprint check is not universally accessible to youth-serving organizations.
Concerned about this issue, the Hopkins House trustees, joined by other community and government groups, pushed for legislation in the Virginia General Assembly this year to require and fund FBI checks for childcare providers in the Commonwealth.
Sadly, the legislation was tabled in committee by voice vote. The reason was the cost: the FBI charges for these background checks and state officials estimated that it could cost Virginia taxpayers upwards of $5 million annually.
A similar push is underway on the federal level.  The Child Protection Improvements Act of 2004 created a pilot program whereby selected youth-serving organizations were given access to timely, inexpensive FBI fingerprint background checks.  Of the nearly 40,000 checks conducted in the federal pilot program, 6.1 percent (or 2,440) of all applicants were found to have criminal records that rendered them unfit to work with children, including rapists and murderers.    
It is disappointing that in a country as wealthy as ours, penny-pinching still gets in the way of protecting America’s children. 

COMMENTS (2 Comments)

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J. Glenn Hopkins
Dear Parent, thank you for your comments. We are as disappointed with our government policy-makers on this issue as you are. We are determined to continue pushing this issue until our politicians fix this problem. Any support you can give -- whether contacting our elected officials or helping to publicize this issue -- is much appreciated.
12:06 AM Mar 28th | Report abuse

This is really sad that our elected politicians care more about running for office than protecting our children. I am shocked that FBI background checks are not required by law for child care. This is one thing I can say as a taxpayer my tax dollars should be used for. I applaude you for trying to fix this and for educating me and other parents about this issue. Thank you.
11:18 PM Mar 27th | Report abuse