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Why annual background checks are important

Now that we are more than two decades into the 21st century, most organizations conduct background checks for their employees or volunteers before bringing them on board. This is especially important for those who work with children, the elderly, other vulnerable populations or money, or those who will be taking a position in transportation.

Background checks will help your organization identify people who have demonstrated risky behaviors such as criminal activity, sexual offenses, money management problems, lack of qualifications and poor driving history. Most importantly, background checks serve a significant role in your organization’s efforts to create a safe environment for your program participants.

Conduct background checks annually

But an initial background check is not enough. Just because a staff member or volunteer doesn’t have a criminal record at the time of hire doesn’t mean their record will be clean in the future. If an employee or volunteer is convicted of a crime after their initial screening, they may not share this information with you. By conducting routine, ongoing background checks, you will be able to find out important information about those you are trusting to represent your organization and deliver your programs.

The type of background checks you order is completely up to you. Staff members and volunteers who have greater access to your organization’s assets or will work with children or the elderly require a more thorough and intensive background check process. Church Mutual offers discounted background check packages through Trusted Employees.

Tips for screening

Whether you are conducting a background check on a staff member or volunteer prior to bringing them on board, or you are running your annual check, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Always obtain a signed authorization from the individual before conducting any screenings.

  2. Conduct background screenings at both state and national levels.

  3. For minors, ask for references, as criminal records may not show up on public databases.

  4. Don’t forget to conduct a motor vehicle record (MVR) check—especially if the staff member or volunteer may be operating a vehicle.

Avoid showing favoritism

If you were to run background checks rarely, and only on select employees or volunteers, you could be risking the perception of favoritism or discrimination. But if you establish a written policy for regular, ongoing background checks for all, you will have a mechanism in place to check your employees regularly—even after their initial hire.

Protect your organization, as well as those you serve

Imagine a scenario in which a child care organization was employing a classroom aid who had been convicted of a crime involving youth within the last year. Because this employee was hired three years ago, and the organization only ran background checks at the time of hire, they did not have notice of this conviction, and continued allowing this employee to supervise youth. If a new incident occurs at this organization, not only will the incident harm a child and hurt your organization’s reputation, you could also potentially face a negligent supervision claim.

It is important that you take simple steps to provide the highest standard of care. Review our resource, The Basics of Background Checks, for additional information.