What criteria will be followed to screen and select volunteers and staff? Is the process the same for all volunteers and church leadership? Who obtains and reviews the application/screening materials? Who approves the applications? After the screening process is completed, how are screening materials stored? When do periodic re-screenings need to happen?
One important component of abuse prevention is holding ministry leaders to high standards. Appropriate screening for staff, elders, deacons, ministry leaders, and volunteers is essential. Along with an application, an interview, and reference checks, a criminal background check should be part of the screening process, especially for leaders who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adult populations. Properly screening your leaders will require some effort, time, and money; but if you’ve ever dealt with the horrific impacts of abuse, you will understand that these efforts are worthwhile.
Each congregation must weigh the risks, benefits, and costs in determining which positions should require interviews, reference checks, and background checks. The resources from Brotherhood Mutual Insurance on Who to Screen may be helpful.
Once the screening procedures are outlined, decide how you will keep records of the screening materials. Make sure to re-screen your staff and volunteers on a regular basis, every 2 to 5 years, to ensure the safety of the congregation. Some limited background screening services are free for nonprofits—for example, the Michigan State Police offers ICHAT: a state-wide internet criminal history access tool. However, a state background check has limits; consider using that in conjunction with a national background check.
The following organizations have been successfully used by CRC congregations and ministries to help secure background checks:
Protect My Ministry is committed to helping faith-based organizations maintain a safe environment so that they can focus on fulfilling their mission. Protect My Ministry offers a process, products, and solutions that work for churches.
Plan to Protect prioritizes abuse prevention and vulnerable sector protection. Plan to Protect equips your team with effective and customized policies, procedures, and training.
ScreeningONE offers a comprehensive suite of screening solutions.
myBackCheck provides Canadians the opportunity to obtain background checks online and share them wherever they work or volunteer.
HireRight is a global agency for a very broad reach.