Employment and Volunteer Screening

During the past several months we have observed that some youth-serving organizations do not always perform reference and criminal background checks on employment and volunteer candidates, even those working directly with or around children.

Listed below are guidelines that should be followed when evaluating the non-technical elements of a candidate’s personal and work history. The best way to protect the children who participate in your programs is to prevent potential abusers from gaining access to them. Thus, these guidelines may exceed jurisdictional requirements as such requirements are not always adequate in identifying potential predators.

  • Your application should clearly state that the organization will aggressively investigate to eliminate potential child abuse. It should require that any reference supplied by the applicant be pre-contacted by the applicant and be agreeable to responding to queries that will include this topic.
  • Any time gap in the applicant’s work or education history should be explained and documented.
  • Employment and personal references should be checked for all program volunteers and employees. Every reference should be contacted with the results documented in a personnel file.
  • Personnel files with at least a signed, written application and verification of all reference checks should be maintained for all program volunteers, employees, and any applicants who are rejected for non-technical (i.e., history of abuse, potential for abuse, etc.) reasons.
  • Criminal Background Checks (CBCs) should be required of applicants for volunteer and employee positions working with or around children, with results maintained in the above files.
    • If the applicant has lived and worked in the same jurisdiction for the last 5 years, a CBC should be seriously considered from that jurisdiction.
    • If the applicant has lived, worked, or attended school in multiple jurisdictions over the last 5 years, a CBC should be seriously considered from each of those jurisdictions.
    • Candidates under the age of 18 will not usually generate any information on a CBC. Thus, because of expense, CBCs for minors should be waived unless they are required by the governing jurisdiction. In lieu of a CBC, a more thorough reference check (at least 5 personal and/or employment references) should be conducted.