Excerpted from a Christian Post Blog by Tom Ellis
Pastors and church leaders are responsible to their youngest, most vulnerable attendees whose parents entrust to children’s ministry programs. Conducting background checks on volunteers and staff who work with children is an important step in protecting them from potential predators.
At its core, a background check is a tool for ministries to use to help identify potential red flags that could indicate future problems. Background checks also act as a deterrent for those who would take advantage of the trusting nature of the church.
Churches need to undertake every avenue available to ensure children are kept safe. This includes understanding your search options and the results obtained from the variety of screening tools available today.
If you’re evaluating a new provider or looking to start a new screening program, the following considerations should be at the top of your list when it comes to selecting the right company for your ministry.
Not all background checks are created equal
When evaluating a new provider the first question should be, “Do they know our space?” Every industry and organization has its own unique nuances. Your screening provider should be experienced working with ministries and faith-based organizations to understand the challenges you face screening both staff and volunteers. They should also be to explain the differences in what your organization needs based on your current location.
As a rule of thumb for churches, at the very minimum, the background check should cover:
- Social Security number verification;
- National criminal search;
- Sex offender registries search;
- Seven-year county criminal background searches or statewide repository searches.
Consider a more in-depth screen for staff
Background checks should be run on anyone who will be working or volunteering with your ministry and who will be around children. While volunteer screening is comprehensive, you may want to take a deeper look at someone who will be joining your staff full-time. This can include running employment history verifications to see if there’s been any omitted job history that can indicate a red flag.
A credit check may be a consideration for someone doing bookkeeping or handling finances for your ministry. If your organization uses buses or vans to transport members, a Motor Vehicle Record search is a good idea to run on anyone who will be driving.
Continuous criminal monitoring
There is a saying in the industry that a background check is only as good as the day it is completed. Most insurance companies require that churches and ministries run regular re-checks on their staff and volunteers — anywhere from every year to every three years. However, anything can happen between the initial background check and the re-screen.
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