Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017 (H.R. 695).

Chairman Goodlatte: Non-profit organizations provide essential youth services to communities throughout the United States.  They run camps and after-school programs; they enrich our children’s lives by providing them mentorship. That’s why it is essential for them to be sure that when they hire someone or enlist a volunteer, that individual is fit to work with children.

One of the greatest challenges facing child-serving non-profits is the ability to properly vet potential employees and volunteers. Access to timely, inexpensive FBI background checks is vital to the success of these organizations.

The PROTECT Act of 2003 established a pilot program to provide fingerprint background checks for non-profits seeking to vet prospective employees.  From 2003 to 2011, youth-serving organizations were able to conduct over 105,000 background checks under that program, leading to a discovery that over 6,500 individuals had criminal records of concern. As a result, these non-profits were able to identify and remove applicants who had committed offenses such as criminal sexual conduct with a child and child endangerment.

The success of this program demands permanent implementation. H.R. 695, the bipartisan “Child Protection Improvements Act” introduced by Mr. Schiff and Mr. Bishop, makes the pilot program permanent and expands it to include employees of youth-serving non-profits.

The bill creates a system where youth organizations can streamline both FBI and state background checks when vetting an applicant. It also ensures privacy rights are protected by barring the disclosure of an individual’s specific criminal record without explicit consent. Additionally, applicants are provided with the opportunity to correct errors in their records directly with the FBI.

Background checks are our first line of defense in protecting our kids. This bill gives youth-serving organizations an additional tool to keep our children safe.

I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 695.

For more on today’s markup, click here.

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