Funding: Archives 2014 & Earlier

Schumer Bill Would Expand Affordable Background Checks for Youth Providers

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill on Friday to take to scale a long-running pilot project that provides youth-serving organizations with access to criminal histories.

Schumer’s bill (S.645) would amend the National Child Protection Act of 1993 to make background checks affordable for nonprofits that are vetting candidates to serve as mentors, volunteers or employees.

The pilot project is currently managed by MENTOR, an Alexandria, Va.-based organization, in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The groups use the FBI nationwide fingerprint database to determine whether prospective volunteers or employees  have criminal backgrounds that would deem them unfit to work with children.  

A small number of nonprofits currently have access to the FBI checks through the pilot program. The check costs them $18, and there is typically a three- to five-day turnaround.

Most nonprofits have to go through state agencies for background checks, and only 18 of those offer access to the FBI national database, according to MENTOR. Dozens of states charge more than $30 for the check, and the turnaround time is often three weeks or longer. [Click here for a breakdown of state background check capability and rates].

The 1993 act, according to a White House statement issued when President Bill Clinton signed it, was supposed to establish a national database of “all indictments and convictions on child abuse and sex offense charges,” and allow “all businesses or organizations who employ a childcare provider to ask a state agency to check this database for all job applicants.”

This is the seventh consecutive year that the background check process has been renewed as a pilot project. Larry Wright, president of MENTOR, said his group and NCMEC have lost money operating it, and operating the pilot project for another year is not an option.

“This is sort of the last, best opportunity” for Congress to expand it, he said.

MENTOR processes about 25,000 records checks per year, Wright said, and 6 percent are found to have a criminal record. If the FBI took over a full-scale background check program for nonprofits, he estimated that it would provide more than 100,000 background checks of potential workers and volunteers each year.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary with three Republican and three Democrat co-sponsors.




Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.


Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.


We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)



Recent Comments

Kennesaw State University Mountain Logo & Ceneter for Sustainable Journalism Logo
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2018 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
Kennesaw State University, 1200 Chastain Blvd. Suite 310, Kennesaw GA 30144

To Top