House bill gives child welfare agencies access to criminal databases

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and other House members are proposing to give child welfare agencies access to the FBI's criminal information databases in order to help speed up the adoption process.

Under current law, child welfare agencies can't directly access those databases to run background checks on people trying to adopt children. Instead, they have to ask local law enforcement to ask the FBI to run these checks, a process that Bass said is unnecessarily slow.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Too many children in need of loving caretakers languish in child welfare office buildings awaiting placement," Bass wrote in a letter to her House colleagues. "In some cases, a child might temporarily live in a child welfare office for several days or even weeks while background checks for relatives or family friends are unnecessarily delayed.

"This instability and uncertainty can add pain to an already traumatizing situation for the child. That is why child welfare agencies need access to the national criminal information databases to quickly place children in safe foster homes."

Bass's Child Protection Enhancement Act, H.R. 3923, would give agencies direct access to the FBI's databases. "This bill will help ensure that agencies have the database access they need to place children safely, faster, and consistent with the child's wellbeing," she wrote.

Bass's bill is cosponsored by one Republican — Rep. Paul Cook (Calif.) — and eight Democrats: Reps. Tony Cardenas (Calif.), Judy Chu (Calif.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Jim Langevin (R.I.), Jim McDermott (Wash.), Charles Rangel (N.Y.) and Louise Slaughter (N.Y.).