PANAMA CITY– Leaving a child in someone else’s care can be concerning for parents if they don’t know much about that person.
That’s the reason behind a bill that would enforce background checks on all national organizations in Florida dealing with young children, vulnerable Floridians, and people with disabilities.
“I know that there is a lot of concern about the expense of conducting that background screening,” Niki Kelly, the executive director of Bay County’s Girls Inc. said, “but there is no expense too great when it comes to keeping our kids safe.”
Kelly said her organization has already been doing background checks on all volunteers and staff even though it hasn’t been a requirement.
The bill, if passed, would make it a requirement to do level two screenings that are fingerprint based.
“Normally, at that point if there’s going to be something there they’ll let us know,” Kelly said. “On occasion, things do come up and we have to let them know we can’t hire them.”
Since 1987, certain religious and national after school programs were exempt from those requirements. The proposed bill would change that, making screenings mandatory.
Nationwide, 60 percent of all Boys and Girls Clubs currently do not participate in level two background checks.