Summer camps are a great way for kids to stay involved, active and engaged when school is not in session. But before you drop the kids off, do you know who will be supervising your children? Or the types of background checks the camp may or may not require their workers or volunteers to undergo? The American Camp Association states that anyone who works with children in a camp setting is required to undergo state background checks, though federal background checks are not required. However, camps are not always held accountable for state checks. The lack of national checks is how a known sex offender in Nebraska was able to pass Texas state checks and get a job at a children’s camp near San Antonio. Meanwhile, Florida requires summer camps to conduct state background checks on employees, but does not follow up to ensure checks are completed. When the Florida Department of Children and Families audited 50 state camps at random, it found that only 19 of them conducted any types of background checks. This is after the Department worked on a proposal in May 2013 to ensure summer camp operators registered their facilities in an online database that they could only access once checks were completed. To ensure your children have a safe experience at camp this summer, consider taking the following actions:
- Verify the camp you have selected. The American Camp Association has strict accrediting standards for licensing summer camps, including annual staff screenings for all volunteers, paid employees and contractors, and a check of the National Sex Offender site.
- Check out your state’s laws and policies. After the incident in Texas, the state now runs every employee through the FBI fingerprint database and Department of Public Safety sex offender registry to ensure a clean background.
- Consider running your own checks.You can hire a background screening service to run various types of background checks — including state and federal criminal record checks — on camp counselors, employees or volunteers that may interact with your child.
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