Have your kids camps and coaches had their background checks?

Hello muddah, hello faddah
I know you’re thinking it’s camp time
But I warn you to consider
Have the counselors been screened for rotten business?

I want to hike and bike and swim
And I’d like to stay real safe
So forgive me to remind you
That background checks are super important

You say you want me to try football
That sounds cool and sorta scary
I need to know the coaches have clean records
And aren’t smoking marijuana underneath the bleachers

There’s something else you need to know
Are you sure your money is safe from fraud and theft?
Here’s an idea, tell the camp to call Active Screening
They’re the best at getting camps to hire smarter.

How many of you remember this song by Allan Sherman? Most people refer to it as ‘Hello Mother, Hello Father,’ but it’s actually called ‘Camp Grenada.’ Thanks to http://bussongs.com/songs/camp-grenada.php for posting the original lyrics which we… ummm… re-worked(?) to suit today’s post about the need to screen folks who will be in contact with you children this summer.

There isn’t much time to wait. Schools around the country are wrapping up the academic year and that means millions of kids will be diving into summer programs like camps or heading to summer school or daycare. Which begs the question – Do you know who will be watching, teaching, coaching, playing with, mentoring your kids this summer?

If you don’t, you should. And you have every right to ask organizations, camps, summer schools or daycares if they have run background checks on their employees. If they haven’t or don’t have policies requiring checks, they should. Consider these alarming cases:

Police: Youth Football Coach Clocks Other Coach

City Suspends Youth League for No Background Checks

Child Rapist Worked at Maine Camp

Town Revokes PAL Privileges After Volunteers Coach Without Background Checks

Some states are taking action but advocacy groups say, nationally, there aren’t enough laws on the books to protect our kids. Less than half of our states require criminal background checks for anyone who works in a day camp. This Consumers Digest article highlights disappointing statistics like:

  • “23 states have no requirements for camps to conduct background checks”
  • “29 states prohibit summer camps from having access to the FBI crime database that can help to provide a thorough background check of any camp counselor or other staff member”
  • “Missouri, South Dakota and Washington also don’t issue a license to operate a summer camp. Georgia exempts summer day camps from licensing, and Idaho requires a license only for camps that last longer than 9 weeks, which summer camps rarely do.”
  • “From 2003 to 2011, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children operated a Congress-approved pilot program that allowed summer camps and other youth organizations to use the FBI crime database to screen potential employees by fingerprint. At least 100,000 checks were conducted, and 6 percent of job applicants were found to have a “criminal record of concern,” according to the pilot program’s records.”

Florida is among the worst states for negligent background checks for camp counselors. The results, according to an investigation by The Palm Beach Post, are horrifying.

At least two major national youth sports leagues have taken action, though. Little League Baseball and Pop Warner Leagues require annual background checks for all league employees and volunteers. A study of criminal background checks for coaches that was commissioned by the state of Connecticut also reports that those national leagues require local leagues to check if their volunteers names appear on the state sex offender registry.

So as a parent or concerned citizen or children’s program organizer, what can you do about it? Be aware. Raise questions. Demand change. Tell people about background check solution providers like Active Screening. We have affordable background check options that even the most budget-minded camps and sports organizations can sign on for. We will work with you to make sure your children are safe. They are our children, too. We believe kids should have fun and freedom during their summers and not have to worry about sending a letter home from camp asking if they’re protected from harm.

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