H.R. 695, Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017
On Monday, May 22, 2017, the House will consider H.R. 695, the Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 695 was introduced on January 24, 2017, by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which ordered the bill reported, on March 22, 2017.
H.R. 695 directs the Department of Justice to establish a program to allow organizations that provide services to youth, the elderly, and the disabled to obtain information from criminal background checks in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint database. Specifically, the legislation ensures these organizations have access to the FBI’s fingerprint searches in a timely and effective manner and protects privacy rights by ensuring that specific information of a criminal record is not disclosed without the explicit consent of the volunteer or employee.
Under current law, organizations in certain states that provide services to youth, the elderly, and the disabled have limited access to information from national criminal background checks. Currently, many organizations only have access to request state-level background check systems.
This legislation builds on the success of the PROTECT Act’s Child Safety Pilot which ran from 2003 until 2011. The pilot provided access to FBI fingerprint background checks for a variety of child-serving non-profits. The pilot conducted over 105,000 background checks and 6.2% of potential volunteers were found to have criminal records of concern – over 6,500 individuals. In addition, over 40% of 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. The criminal offenses among some of these applicants included convictions for criminal sexual conduct with a child, child endangerment, and manslaughter.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “When parents send their children to after-school programs, sports camps, or to be with mentors, they must be able to trust that their children are in safe hands,” Rep. Schiff said. “Every organization that serves our youth should have access to the FBI fingerprint-based background check system so they can thoroughly screen anyone who will be working with kids. The results of a multi-year pilot program strongly indicate that this system will be effective in catching child predators who try to avoid detection by moving across state lines.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates enacting this legislation would cost less than $500,000 annually. Further, CBO estimates implementing H.R. 695 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits on any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.
 See Rep. Schiff’s Press Release, January 24, 2017