Excerpted from a WSAW-TV story by Hannah Borchert

The start of the school year brings with it the need for volunteers, both inside and outside the classroom.

“Volunteers come in with certain expectations on safety and qualification in terms of background checks and those types of things,” said Eric Spacek, Assistant Vice President of Risk Control, Church Mutual Insurance Company.

Church Mutual Insurance Company’s Risk Radar Report found those expectations aren’t always met. The report shows that 41% of American volunteers expect a national sex offender public registry screening but only 16% said they were actually required to undergo the screening.

52% of those surveyed said they expect criminal background checks but only 33% said they had them done for their volunteering position.

In the Wausau School District in Wisconsin, background checks are not required if you are volunteering for a singular activity that does not require the direct supervision of students, such as serving food at an athletic event. However, volunteers do need to check in through the school’s security systems when entering the building. Chaperones and regular volunteers are required to have a full background check.

“Building safety and security is our number one mission that we want to provide an environment that’s great for kids. I’ll make sure that our personnel, our staff, our volunteers are quality people,” said Cale Bushman, Director of Pupil Services for Wausau School District.

Spacek said screenings put both volunteers and community members at ease.

“Both parents and others that attend the organization feel like they are at a safe place,” said Spacek.

Spacek said requiring a background check is often a determining factor for people deciding to volunteer. “43% said that that level of screening or training they experience impacts whether they would volunteer at a place.”

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