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House passes two justice-related bills supporting child well-being

By Erik Peterson

Last week the House of Representatives passed two pieces of juvenile justice-related legislation that will have a positive impact on young people in and out of afterschool programs.

On Monday evening, Congressmen Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) and Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) bipartisan Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017 (CPIA), H.R. 695, passed the House of Representatives. CPIA ensures youth-serving organizations in every state can access FBI background checks for prospective staff and volunteers. On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 1809, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act and enhance the focus on prevention. 

About the Child Protection Improvements Act

CPIA passed by unanimous voice vote along with several other bills that further protect children and the most vulnerable members of society. Specifically, the Child Protection Improvements Act would:

  • Ensure organizations (including afterschool programs) that serve children, the disabled, and the elderly all across the country have access to FBI fingerprint searches in a timely and affordable manner
  • Protect privacy rights by ensuring that the specifics of a criminal record are never disclosed without explicit consent by the volunteer or employee and providing an opportunity for individuals to correct errors in their records
  • Make FBI fingerprint background checks available for programs that wish to use them, without requiring that organizations perform those checks

The bill does not authorize any new spending. The program will be supported by the fees assessed for background checks by the requesting nonprofit organizations.

The bipartisan bill passed with 45 co-sponsors in the House. The bill has also garnered support from 34 national organizations, including the Afterschool Alliance.

About the Juvenile Justice Reform Act

The next day, the bipartisan Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017 sponsored by Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) passed by a voice vote. As noted in an earlier post on the Afterschool Snack, the bill includes reforms to:

  • Phase out use of the valid court order exception and stop the incarceration of children in need of services
  • Provide states and local leaders flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of young people in their own communities
  • Prioritize evidence-based strategies with proven track records and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency – including support for afterschool programs
  • Improve accountability and oversight at all levels of the juvenile justice system

To read the full text of the bill click here