New Hampshire passed a law last year that took effect on January 1st of this year that reads, “Anyone who works with children at youth skills programs in New Hampshire must undergo a criminal background check under new rules in effect this year.” A spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Services said the rule applies to all volunteer and paid staff who will be working with children under the age of 18 for three consecutive days or more. “Even those under the age of 18 who are paid or volunteer staff much undergo a background check,” according to a story that was aired on ABC affiliate WMUR.
While this new legislation is a step in the right direction, it falls far short of really protecting young people under the age of 18. What about day care workers, school teachers, administrators, coaches, volunteer coaches and staff in both public and parochial schools? What about staff and administrators at Boys and Girls Clubs and volunteer Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders?
The law is intended to protect young people, but what about other vulnerable populations such as residents of nursing homes, the elderly who utilize home health care services, and patients in other health care facilities?
Basically, the law covers only paid and volunteer staff in New Hampshire summer camps. That’s all it really does, while apparently overlooking all the other people who have contact with vulnerable populations, both young and old. The new New Hampshire law is nice but falls far short of providing adequate protection to the full range of vulnerable populations. Potential civil liability still exists if something unfortunate happens to any members of these other populations if a background check wasn’t completed!