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State Police offer record search for child protection

This month, Illinois State Police began implementing a permanent national background check system geared toward helping local agencies that serve children, seniors and people with disabilities.

As part of the recently amended National Child Protection Act, states are encouraged to authorize fingerprint-based national criminal history record checks for people with unsupervised access to that population subset.

The original measure, created in 1993, urged states to improve the quality of criminal history and child abuse records.

Now, qualified private organizations in Illinois will have more access to screen prospective employees and volunteers. Applicant fingerprints can be submitted electronically to state police, which in turn will process them through its database and then forward to the FBI for processing.

Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Isaiah Vega said the information especially might be useful for new hires, as well as employees who have been working under a less extensive background check.

“We want to make sure we increase the efforts in protecting the most vulnerable individuals in our society,” Vega said.

Dana Briscoe, program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, said the organization screened each mentor through the Illinois and national sex offenders registries. The group also does a national criminal background check through a private company, but does not currently use fingerprinting, she said.

Crystal Lake-based Options and Advocacy for McHenry County, which serves disabled children and adults, also uses multiple databases to check its potential employees. The organization uses fingerprinting for its early intervention program, Executive Director Cindy Sullivan said.

“We always screen all of our employees through the state of Illinois and the nurse’s aide registry,” Sullivan said. “We feel pretty safe with what we’re doing with all the background checks.”

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