Screening Church Volunteers
Volunteers are often the backbone of church organizations; unfortunately, with daily stories that push headlines like "Church Volunteer Arrested," churches must begin to diligently protect their organization and members.
From concerns of child endangerment to financial misconduct, properly vetting volunteers is a necessary provision. One part of that vetting process should be background checks, which can provide a vital first defense for your organization.
Volunteer screening does have its challenges, and many organizations are overwhelmed by the budgetary, compliance and administrative burdens that accompany a background check program. Adhering to these tips for success can alleviate these challenges, creating an effective, successful program.
1. Set Clear Policies
Your policy should include the protocols of completing the background screen as well as what offenses would preclude volunteer participation. Sharing this information in advance will act as a screen in itself. This may be a deterrent for some volunteers, but it can actually be an ideal opportunity to start a dialogue with those with past offenses. Addressing any issues upfront rather than later allows for open communication.
2. Streamline Your Process
Further enhancing efficiency, the provider should have a web based system allowing for church personnel to review and track the screen process. With the provider facilitating volunteer "pass" determinations, church administrators should only need to review those reports with serious policy prohibitive offenses.
The background screen provider should have procedures in place to protect the applicant's personal data. The vendor should also keep you compliant with the FCRA by initiating the proper communication to those individuals who do not meet your requirements.
3. Understand Screening Methodology
The use of the term "national" is misleading, as there is no single database that receives and aggregates data from every U.S. court.
Understanding the sources of the data used to perform searches is imperative. Utilizing a best practices approach to screening provides you with a complete and reliable picture of an individual's criminal history.
Best practices for background screens should include at a minimum:
• Address History Trace - Find out where your volunteer has lived and search for records there.
Screening your volunteers is an important part of your safety plan; having an effective program in place minimizes risk and enhances safety. Implementing these best practices allows your church to be a safe environment for all to gather and worship.
This information is courtesy of Background Investigation Bureau (BIB), www.bib.com.