Create Background Check Standards for People Working with Children

Is there a place for federal standards, or at least guidelines, for how we conduct background checks for people volunteering in our schools and other youth organizations?

Patrick Fiel, public safety advisor for ADT Security Services, has handled major security jobs for both federal and local government organizations, so we asked his opinion on the question. He said the federal government should require annual criminal background checks for anyone wanting to volunteer in a school, coach a youth athletic team or work in any number of other social programs aimed at kids.

“Over the past eight years, we’ve seen a 78 percent increase in the number of registered sex offenders in the U.S.,” he said. “And while states, counties and cities have passed numerous law regulating where these people can live and work, they haven’t done enough to make sure they don’t have access to volunteer for schools and youth organizations.”

Also, Fiel said it is vital that the checks be national in scope as criminals, including sex offenders, often move from state to state.

“Also, by checking annually, you can see other convictions such as drunk driving that may not keep a person from volunteering to work with children, but may make it so they don’t drive the kids,” he said.

But while the cost of computerized background checks has dropped significantly, Fiel said a national mandate would require offsetting federal funding.

-- PSW Staff