Summertime and carnivals go together like cotton candy and kids. Almost every week, a church, community organization or fire department is sponsoring a festival promoted as old-fashioned family fun.
- Illinois has the most restrictive background check laws for traveling amusement workers. It requires carnival owners and operators to perform employee background checks and prohibits registered sex offenders from operating carnival rides. It also bars convicted murderers, rapists or people convicted of other sexual crimes from being hired as a carnival operator or assistant in the state. Adopted in 2007, the law includes $1,000 to $5,000 fines for the first violation and $5,000 to $10,000 for the second offense.
- Massachusetts includes traveling amusements and carnival workers – and owners – in its background check requirements, which only requires statewide checks.
- Following arrests of carnival workers, some individual events including the annual state fairs in Washington State, North Carolina and New Mexico implemented screenings.
- Pennsylvania's new criminal background law in brief
- Requires the criminal background check and child abuse clearance every five years for volunteers and employees that work directly with children on a regular basis. Specifically the law requires background checks for those employees providing “care, supervision, guidance or control of children” or who have “regular and repeated contact” when the youth are still enrolled in high school. Previously those clearances were required for child care workers and school employees, but they did not need to be updated.
- New volunteers need to undergo the checks and clearances as of Aug. 25; existing volunteers have until July 2016 to complete checks. New and existing employees have until Dec. 31 to undergo or update checks.
- Employees who have lived in Pennsylvania less than 10 years will be required to undergo a more thorough FBI criminal background clearance that involved a fingerprint check, under the new law. The fingerprint check requirement makes Pennsylvania unusual among other states, since the check is generally reserved for specific industries such as military, finance and education. The results are forwarded to the State Department of Human Services who make the final determination of whether the employee is able to hold a position around children.
- The new Child Protective Services Law emerged as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, and was signed last year by former Gov. Tom Corbett. As part of the law, anyone convicted of a felony, including drug crimes, within the last five years, is banned from working with and volunteering with children.