“The last safe place is safe no more.” -Daniel Handler

It’s hard to comprehend that background checks in churches are just, if not more, important than a business. Think about the number of people who come through the doors each week, think about the parents who are leaving their children in the nursery to a complete stranger.

Ensuring a high level of trust is important in any organization, but especially for those served through churches and many volunteer organizations. When managing volunteers, it’s critical that organizations create and maintain the safest environment possible.

Conducting background checks can serve as a key step in ensuring the right fit for those who want to volunteer with a church or nonprofit organization. Careful screening is especially important in situations where volunteers have supervised or unsupervised contact with minors.

Why conduct background checks?

It is wonderful that volunteers give freely of their time to help an organization work toward a greater good. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that every volunteer has pure intentions.

A ministry or organization that serves children and youth has an obligation to exercise “due diligence” with regards to protecting its members, especially children.

By performing background checks on volunteers, the organization is:

  • Establishing a safeguard at the “doorway” of the organization to help identify the best partners.
  • Offering peace of mind to discerning parents by being pro-active in helping protect children.

What is a background check?

A background check is a “records” screening of an individual that can involve as little as a one-county check or be as in-depth as a security clearance investigation. It can include criminal background checks, fingerprint services, resume verification services, driving records, sex offender registry searches, national criminal searches and more.

Public and private records can be searched once applicant consent is given to help determine if information provided by an applicant is true and accurate.

What criteria is required for a background check?

The data provided in the many databases searched is not equally maintained and accessed by each state. For that reason, it’s critical to partner with a credible background screening company.

A reputable firm may also be able to help an organization establish an online volunteer screening process that invites potential volunteers via email to a website with an embedded link to sign Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) release forms and provide personal information like their address, date of birth and social security number. All information shared remains private and secure with no paper forms required.

Conducting background checks help churches and volunteer organizations ensure they have volunteers working with them who will further the mission of their ministry or cause.

About the Author OPES Team

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