Child Protection Act Law and Legal Definition

The main child protection act is the federal National Child Protection Act of 1993, although many similar state acts have been enacted. The purpose of the National Child Protection Act of 1993 is to encourage states to improve the quality of their criminal history and child abuse records. The Act was passed in October 1993 and amended in the Crime Control Act of 1994. The Act:

1. Requires states to submit "child abuse crime information" to, or index such information in the national criminal history background system maintained by the FBI. Provides that a state’s reporting all felonies and serious misdemeanors to the FBI will satisfy this requirement of the Act. Mandates that the U.S. Attorney General establish timetables for each state’s criminal history records system to reach milestones for improvement and completeness.

2. Authorizes a state to establish procedures requiring organizations serving youth, the elderly and individuals with disabilities to request a nationwide criminal history background check on prospective employees and volunteers.

3. The majority of states have laws mandating some individuals working with children to undergo criminal history background checks. The Act expands this to the elderly and individuals with disabilities and encourages criminal history checks for a more uniform, but broader, cross-section of employees and volunteers. Provides access to the National Criminal History Records system maintained by the FBI in order to perform criminal history record checks. Access is limited to the states in which permissive legislation or regulations have been established.

4. Establishes minimum procedural safeguards for conducting criminal history record checks.

5. Procedures require checks to be based upon fingerprints; the agency checking the records must attempt to obtain disposition data; the actual record cannot be conveyed to the seeking organization but a statement must be provided by the state agency indicating whether or not the individual has been convicted of or is under pending indictment for a crime that bears upon the individual’s fitness for taking care of children; and, the individual authorizes the check and signs a statement that he or she has never been convicted of a crime or if he or she has been convicted of a crime, lists the particulars of that crime on the form requesting the criminal history background check. Places responsibility on states to define crimes that bear upon the individual’s fitness to work with children, the elderly and individuals with disabilities.

6. Requires states to identify the positions that will require criminal history background checks.

7. Protects organizations from liability "solely for failure to conduct a criminal background check ..."

8. The Act allows organizations to use adopt various child abuse prevention strategies so that failure to conduct a criminal history record check could not be used as a sole reason for liability. Limits the cost of criminal history record checks so that "fees to nonprofit entities for background checks do not discourage volunteers from participating in child care programs."

9. Amendments to the Act limit the fee that can be charged by the states to $18 and those charged b the FBI to $18 or a total of $36. The amendments also permit some federal funds to be used to offset some or all of this costs.