Law Would Encourage Youth Sports Background Checks

Background Screening Laws vary from State to State in regards to their requirement however the law AB230 is the one we want to watch! This is what it’s all about… by Tom Chorneau (Calif.) Lawmakers are set to consider legislation that would further encourage youth athletic programs to undertake criminal background checks of participating adults. AB 230 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, would require beginning in 2016 community youth athletic groups to provide parents with a written notice explaining whether or not the organization obtains criminal background checks for hired or volunteer coaches. The bill comes on the heels of legislation signed into law last fall by Gov. Jerry Brown that authorizes community youth programs to request background checks on participating coaches from state and federal law enforcement agencies. Although neither AB 265 – already law – or the pending bill, AB 230, go as far as to require youth sports organizations to perform criminal background checks. But the expectation is that if Maienschein’s latest bill wins passage, youth sports groups would have significant incentive to carry out the background review even though it would not be required. “The use of background checks protects the good standing of individual leagues within their communities and is a good faith effort to assure parents that extensive steps are being taken to protect their children,” said Maienschein in a fact sheet explaining the legislation. “Mandatory disclosure of background check policies will ultimately lead to greater consistency in sports leagues throughout the state.” Although his bill passed unanimously off the Assembly floor in January, there remain some critics who are concerned that the legislation would lead to less parental involvement because some adults might be fearful of past brushes with the law becoming publicly known. There is also an issue having to do with adding cost to a youth program that may already be expensive to many families. The California Department of Justice reports that the fee for a state-level background check runs $32 – although it can be waived for non-profit organizations. The cost of a federal-level criminal review is $15. An additional charge for fingerprinting can range from $10 to $35. Supporters of the legislation argue that the price children can pay is far higher. Nearly 5,000 children in California were victims of sexual abuse in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But the bill’s author noted the child advocacy group, Darkness to Light, has reported the number is probably understated by more than 10,000 because only 73 percent of victims ever tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. As proposed, the bill requires that youth athletic groups begin by Jan. 1, 2016 to provide parents and guardians of participants under the age of 18 notice of whether the program obtains criminal background checks for hired or volunteer coaches, or both. For programs that do conduct the background checks, the law would further require them to include both state and federal criminal history. The bill defines a “community youth athletic program” as one that has as its primary purpose “the promotion or provision of athletic activities for youth under 18 years of age”; and, has “adult employees who have supervisory or disciplinary power over a child.”
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