Rep. Schiff Introduces Legislation to Protect Children From Predators by Requiring Criminal Background Checks

Washington, DC – Every year, thousands of youth recreation programs are a vulnerable target for child predators who hope to gain access to their next victims under the guise of seeking employment or volunteer opportunities. In as many as 34 states, child-serving organizations do not have reliable access to both state and national FBI fingerprint-based background checks -- the gold standard for criminal background checks – because access to the FBI system is often limited, unreasonably time-consuming, or prohibitively expensive. 

The bipartisan Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA), introduced by Rep. Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Bishop (R-MI), will make FBI fingerprint-based background checks permanently and widely available to youth-serving organizations nationwide.  

"Parents deserve to know that their children are in safe hands when they participate in after-school programs, sports camps, or meet with their mentors," Schiff said. "And this is why all youth-serving organizations must be equipped with access to the FBI fingerprint-based background check system to thoroughly screen prospective employees and volunteers that will work with kids. The results of a multi-year pilot program provides striking evidence that our legislation would be effective in catching child predators who attempt to avoid detection by moving from state to state.”

“Congress has a duty to ensure every youth-serving organization in America can afford and access the gold-standard of nationwide background checks. Anything less is unacceptable,” said Bishop. “Keeping children safe was a top priority of mine in the Michigan Senate, and I am proud to continue that work on a bipartisan basis in Congress.”


Currently, many child-serving organizations have the ability to request state background checks on prospective employees and volunteers that will work with children. However, a state background check alone is no match for the FBI’s finger-print based system –- the only one capable of performing a nation-wide search and preventing child predators from avoiding detection by moving from state to state.

The bipartisan CPIA 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.  

To build on the success of the Child Safety Pilot and make these essential background checks permanently and widely available to youth-serving organizations, we have introduced the Child Protection Improvements Act. The legislation would:

  • Ensure that organizations that serve children, the disabled, and the elderly all across the country have access to FBI fingerprint searches in a timely and affordable manner. 
  • Protect privacy rights by ensuring that the specifics of a criminal record are never disclosed without explicit consent by the volunteer or employee and providing an opportunity for individuals to correct errors in their records.
  • Does NOT authorize any new spending. The program will be supported by the fees assessed for background checks by the requesting nonprofit organizations.
  • Does NOT require organizations to utilize FBI fingerprint background checks, only makes them available to those wishing to utilize them.

An earlier version of this bipartisan legislation passed the House in 2010 on a 413-4 vote.