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After much positioning, the American Camp Association (ACA) has been given an unparalleled opportunity by being selected to participate in the PROTECT Act pilot criminal background check program. This program allows direct access to the FBI criminal database for camp volunteers. The pilot program allows participating camps to submit fingerprints of their volunteers to the FBI. The FBI sends the criminal records report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC reviews the records and makes a determination of whether the volunteer meets the criteria of the pilot to serve as a volunteer. Camps then use the determination to make their decision to use a volunteer or not. The cost is $18 per volunteer and the turn-around time is one week or less.
Participation in the program is very important not only for camps but also for ACA. Camps that work with volunteers should be strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. This program bypasses state access barriers and allows direct access to the FBI. This is otherwise not allowed in most states. It places ACA in a program that has the support and the ear of Congress. It recognizes ACA as a player in the youth development field. As we build the number of our checks processed, it will establish credibility for us as an organization and help us determine any specific issues related to our "industry." It positions us to influence the expansion of the program and be the first in line when the barriers to staff participation have been removed.
For more information on PROTECTScreen, go to: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy.
Originally published in the 2007 Winter issue of The CampLine.