Delaware Governor Signs New Background Check Legislation into Law to Help Protect Children

By Michael Klazema on 8/16/2015
Add Delaware to the list of states that are using background checks to take a stance against child abusers and predators.

On Tuesday, August 11th, Delaware Governor Jack Markell affixed his signature to a new law that will require more stringent background checks for a range of youth-serving programs. The bill, dubbed the Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III Child Protection Act, calls for background checks of all employees or volunteers working for "Child-Serving Entities." Per the legislation, the mandated checks "shall consist of a fingerprinted Delaware and national background check completed by the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) and the FBI as well as a Child Protection Registry Completed by the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF)."

Because the law uses the term "Child-Serving Entities" as an umbrella description, this new law will require background check policy changes for a rather broad array of different business types. Specifically, the legislation stated that the new background checks will apply to: the DSCYF; any "residential child care facilities in Delaware which are under contract with or operated directly by the DSCYF"; all public and private schools; the Delaware Department of Education; any daycare businesses or other child care providers; any youth camps or summer schools; and any "facilities and individuals registered and eligible for Federal Child Care Development Block Grant funds through the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services."

The sweeping nature of the law is, in part, a tribute to the man who is its namesake. The bill was named after Joseph R. Biden III, more commonly known as Beau Biden, Delaware's former Attorney General. Biden, who was elected to the Attorney General position in 2007, left office in January and died of brain cancer in May, at the age of 46. During his two terms as Attorney General, Biden made it a personal mission to go after the perpetrators of child sex crimes. He created the state's Child Predator Task Force very early in his first term, which helped state prosecutors convict more than 200 child sexual predators during his eight years in office. Biden was the eldest son of sitting United States Vice President, Joe Biden.

This law will certainly help to further the mission that Biden made a priority during his time in office. With better background checks, both through the Delaware state criminal repository and the FBI multi-jurisdictional criminal database, youth-serving organizations and businesses will be better equipped to spot predators and abusers before they commit crimes. Hopefully, the legislation will help to reduce the number of cases involving the sexual or physical abuse of kids at school, at daycare, in camps, or in other similar environments.

The Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III Child Protection Act will officially go into effect 240 days after its signing, which will be early April next year. That length of time should give youth-serving organizations in Delaware plenty of time to design and implement new background check policies.

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