FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)– Millions of kids will soon head off to summer camp, but just who is watching them and have they gone through the type of background check parents expect?
The answer may surprise you and now there’s a push to change federal law, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.READ MORE: New York City Students Return To School With Remote Learning Option
Summer camps that serve as a kids paradise may not be living up to safety expectations through no fault of their own. One mother was shocked to find out while most camps do run in-state criminal background checks on people they hire, they’re barred from checking nationwide crime records.
“Anybody can do something in another state and come here and we don’t know about it,” parent Jamie Lippiner said.
Most New York State camps check a sex offender registry then pay extra to check other states. Freeport’s Camp Coleman spends tens of thousands on background checks and still can’t get a nationwide search.
“I think all camp directors would welcome the ability to do quick, thorough search and it would only help all of our kids,” Camp Coleman Owner Ross Coleman said.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing to close what he calls a serious gap in the law. Child sex offenders, he says, deliberately cross state lines.READ MORE: Candlelight Vigil Tonight For Michelle Go, Woman Pushed In Front Of Train At Times Square Subway Station
“Our day camps, our little leagues, our YM and YWCAs, our charitable organizations– all are not allowed to access these lists. It makes no sense,” Schumer said.
The American Camping Association has been lobbying for years for full affordable access to FBI crime records. They are checking more than just New York, they’re checking the local states too. However, they are not checking if they moved from California 15 years ago.
And at camps where money is tight, there may be no out-of-state- background checks at all. Privacy laws restrict who can look at the FBI Crime Database.
Currently only a handful of states allow access. That’s why a change in law would be needed to give camps and youth organization access nationwide.
Senator Schumer said 40 percent of convicted sex offenders applying for jobs working with children have out-of-state criminal records. There are 38,000 registered sex offenders in New York state alone.MORE NEWS: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Set To Be Sworn In For 2nd Term
Schumer’s legislation has bipartisan sponsorship.