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August 13, 2013 > Bill allows background checks for youth coaches

Bill allows background checks for youth coaches

By Laura Olson, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP), Aug 08 - Youth sports programs would be allowed to run criminal background checks on potential volunteer coaches under legislation that cleared a final vote Thursday and now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill's authors, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (MAINSH'-eyn), R-San Diego, said AB465 will help ensure that children who participate in community sports leagues are protected from abusive or violent individuals.

In addition to requesting background checks, youth sports programs also could seek subsequent arrest information on volunteer coaches from the state Department of Justice.

The bill passed the Assembly Thursday on a vote of 73-0.

An analysis of the bill says such background checks are already required for sports coaches in public schools. Some national youth sports organizations also already require volunteers to undergo background checks.

In a statement, Maienschein said the bill ``will go a long way toward assuring parents that extensive steps are being taken to protect their children.''

The Child Abuse Prevention Center and the California State Sheriffs' Association are among those backing the legislation. The sheriffs' group says making the rules for background checks more consistent among public and private sports programs would increase safety.

Opponents such as the California Public Defenders Association say requiring background checks could discourage parents from volunteering out of fear that minor offenses would be disclosed to neighbors.

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