Department of Children and Families
David E. Wilkins
April 3, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Summer is just around the corner and the Department of Children and Families wants to remind parents, schools and community organizations of new regulations that help ensure safety at summer camps across the state.
In 2010, the Legislature approved a new law to promote safety at summer camps by requiring that all owners, operators, employees and volunteers who work more than 10 hours a month undergo background screens for state and federal criminal histories. Previously, these checks were only required for owners and operators.
Florida is one of the few states in the country to require these high-level federal screenings for summer camp employees. While our Department is not authorized to license or inspect summer camps, we will investigate all complaints and concerns related to background screening to ensure that all the employees working with children have passed the appropriate background checks.
"Parents and families need to be confident that their children are safe in the care of well-meaning adults," said Secretary David Wilkins. "Florida's law requiring federal background screens is one of the strictest in the nation, and parents need to make sure they diligently research their choices for summer camps."
This year, our child care safety workers have been meeting with camp operators, mailing out information to more than 1,000 camps and informing parents about the requirements.
Because there are so many summer camps in Florida, it can be confusing when seeking the best option for your family. It is important that parents ask questions and make sure any summer camp personnel are appropriately screened.
Here are some other questions you can ask about summer camps to make sure your child is being cared for appropriately:
- Have all directors, employees and volunteers at this camp had proper background screening?
- Can I see the clearance letters for all your employees in their files?
- Ask about qualifications and experience of staff who will be working directly with your child.
- Know the camps policies and procedures, including how they handle sickness, an accident, an emergency, fire and other safety drills.
- Are employees trained in first aid and CPR?
- Visit and observe the camp in action if possible, or attend activities with your child.
- Talk to your child about their daily experiences.
Together we can give children a safe and happy summer experience. If you have concerns that a summer camp is being operated without background screening of required employees, please bring them to our attention at 1-888-352-2842 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please go to: www.dcfbackgroundscreening.com.