Why Background Checks Matterbeing there // on Tuesday May 10, 2016
“It’s better to be safe than sorry.” This saying holds especially true when it comes to screening employees and volunteers who work with kids and youth in Vacation Bible School, Sunday school and other youth-focused events and activities at church. Protecting children should be a number-one priority.
That’s where background checks come in. They deter criminals and sexual predators, can reveal criminal history and provide much-needed peace of mind so you can ensure you’re filling positions of trust with the right people. Keep these considerations in mind when moving forward with screenings.
Get approval. Per federal law, you’ll need written consent from applicants before you can begin a background check.
Do your own homework. Ask potential employees and volunteers to complete an application form that gathers information about their work and volunteer history, prior experience with children and references – then be diligent about contacting those references.
Pick a trustworthy company. It’s important to search local and national records and databases. Through GuideOne’s Check and Protect program, policyholders can choose from two reputable screening companies that have been vetted by GuideOne to provide comprehensive, accurate results at discounted prices.
Keep it confidential. Don’t disclose any information about the applicant to anyone other than the applicant and the hiring committee.
Know the red flags. If a background check come back with any of the offenses listed below, it’s up to your organization whether or not you move forward with or deny the applicant. Tip: Ask local school district or organizations that work with children which offenses would take someone out of the running.
- Failure to disclose criminal history. This includes convictions and deferred adjudication (sentencing).
- Probation. Consider if the person is currently, or has been, on probation for a crime.
- Pending charges. Even if the court has not heard the charge, this should be disclosed.
- Adjudicated cases. Take into consideration if the person has been convicted or sentenced for any of the following offenses (examples of disqualifying offenses from PA statute):
- Criminal homicide
- Aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon
- Rape or sexual assault, including statutory rape or assault
- Kidnapping or unlawful restraint
- Other crimes of violence
- Harassment or stalking
- Indecent assault
- Indecent exposure
- Endangering or injuring the welfare of a child
- Involuntary deviate intercourse
- Felonies related to prostitution, obscene, and other sexual material or performances
- Offenses involving corruption of minors, including child prostitution and child pornography
- Sexual abuse of a child
- Non-remote convictions involving theft or alcohol or drug offenses
- Crimes going against the mission of the organization
Create an overall child-safety plan. Background checks are most effective when they’re part of an overall youth-safety policy that includes safeguards like worker training and careful supervision. Minimize the risk of child abuse with the safeguards presented in this post.
To learn more on background checks – when you should re-screen, how long you should retain background check records and whether or not you should screen minors – you’ll want to check out this Q&A.