Moline, Illinois Considers Discontinuing Background Checks for Carnival Workers

By Michael Klazema on 5/11/2015

With the summer fast approaching, criminal and sex offender screenings of carnival and fair workers are going to become a big topic of discussion once more in the background check world. But while most areas will likely be looking to add more in-depth checks for carnival workers, that's not the case in Moline, Illinois. In fact, officials in Moline are considering putting an end to carnival worker background checks altogether.

In Moline, a local ordinance has required background checks for all carnival and fair workers since 2008. Upon recent review, though, some local officials are in favor of discontinuing the ordinance altogether. The argument is that the state of Illinois already enforces a policy that mandates background checks for carnivals and fairs as part of the licensing process. Theoretically, then, a carnival or fair would not be able to get licensed in Illinois each year without first showing proof that background checks have been conducted for each worker.

Considering the state requirement, it might not be necessary for Moline to re-check each worker at each carnival or fair that takes place in the area. It would certainly be more budget-conscious for the city to discontinue the checks and to count on the state licensing authority to make sure that workers have had their checks. On the other hand, the extra level of security in Moline helps keep fairs and carnivals a safe place for kids and families. Since carnivals are stereotypically notorious for employing unsavory individuals, the extra protection might be worth it.

But according to KWQC, a television news station based in Moline, city officials contacted other nearby towns of comparative size, from Rock Island to Galesburg, to see how background checks for carnival workers are handled on a local level. None of the towns the Moline reached out to require their own background checks for carnival or fair workers. Instead, they essentially defer to the state requirement. The consensus belief is that, with the state requiring background checks, fairs and carnivals are safe. Therefore, requiring additional background checks in Moline or any other town is merely a costly and frustrating waste of time for both parties.

Should Moline repeal the background check ordinance for carnivals? It's tough to say. As the KWQC article said, parents should be vigilant and should pay attention to what their kids are doing and how workers are acting at these fairs or carnival events. Even if the town was running its own background checks, it would still be a good idea for parents to be alert and aware. Carnivals and fairs are busy, chaotic events, and no level of background checks are going to remove the need for that kind of vigilance. Still, Moline may be setting an example here that minimal background check protection is good enough, rather than maintaining their current example as a beacon of precaution and safety.


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