Background checks required for summer camp workers starting in April
A new law mandating background checks for all Delaware summer camp employees takes effect April 7th.
The Beau Biden Child Protection Act is named for former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who died last May from brain cancer and was known for his work strengthening the state’s child abuse laws.
The law is a result of a 2014 task force that studied the need for additional background check requirements, created by an executive order mandated by Gov. Jack Markell.
Cara Sawyer with the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Families says the task force looked at background checks across the state over an eight-month period.
“It was eye-opening to see the differences across the board for people who work with kids but in a different capacity. We really felt it was important that we try to streamline this, make it as uniform as possible," Sawyer said.
The law is a response to a larger national trend, sparked by the child sexual assault scandal involving former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Private schools and camps run by private schools are also included in the law’s mandate. They may choose not to follow the standard, but must inform parents and obtain their signature. A violation can result in fines up to $5,000.
Background checks are already required for public school teachers, and full-time childcare professionals.
And a second bill introduced in March, if signed by Gov. Jack Markell, could delay implementation for private schools until April 2017, after the FBI helps approve language changes in reference to private schools.
The FBI's Criminal Justice Information Law unit said some of the requirements in the original act referencing private schools couldn't be followed by the FBI because it would allow for dissemination of FBI criminal history record information to private entities, which is prohibited by federal law.
Sawyer says they will continue working with the FBI.
“They only review actual legislation so it creates kind of a catch 22 when the state is attempting to put something into law and then it can’t be reviewed until it is law and then the FBI says, you can’t do this,” Sawyer said.