#1 Hidden Danger of Quality Volunteer Background Checks

volunteer background checksHow many of you have kids?  Do you ever find yourself telling them the same thing over and over again?  Come on, I cannot be the only one. “Clean your room.”

“Pick up your dirty socks off of the living room floor.”

“Put the lid up when you….”   Okay you get it.  I have 3 boys.

It wears me out.  I keep thinking one day it will click.  No more broken record saying the same thing over and over again (how many of you even know what a record is?).

I also face the same frustration at work every day.  It is the same conversation over and over again with hundreds of volunteer organizations.  Yes, you need to be doing background checks on your volunteers.  No, you cannot select the cheapest service you find on the internet.  No, there is no such thing as an instant background check.  No, you cannot screen volunteers for $10.

Have you followed the Penn State tragedy?

I honestly think that the #1 hidden danger with volunteer background checks is apathy.  A genuine lack of interest or indifference.

Every day I speak to potential clients, present at conferences or online webinars or publish articles on quality background screening.  My efforts pale in comparison to the money the background screening industry spends to convince you that volunteer background checks can be done instantly for a few dollars.

By the end of most days, my voice is hoarse and my fingers are tired.  Have you ever tried to motivate a lack of interest?  Think of kids and homework.

However, this apathy to background screening has come home to roost.  I have 5 active kids that play sports- baseball, basketball, football, karate.

Our community has passed a policy requiring all coaches to have a criminal background check.  Unfortunately there was no definition or requirement for how a background check is done.  Which has lead to a search for the cheapest provider.

The problem is the community does have a policy that clearly defines what criminal offenses are excluders.  For the policy and the screening process to work in harmony, to provide protection to children and the community, then selecting the right screening partner is paramount.

What point is a strong policy if it is implemented with a weak screening program?  Yes, there is still a lot of indifference.  I listen to the comments.  “We know everybody.”  “We are a small community.”  “We can’t afford it.”

Do we really know everybody?  No way.  That is a false sense of security.  I have looked around at some of the volunteer coaches and I know they have criminal histories that include domestic violence, driving under the influence and drug possession.

I have spent almost 20 years criss-crossing the U.S. and Atlantic Ocean working with communities to end violence against women and children so I can tell you that I would NEVER allow my children to be coached by someone who believes they are justified in using violence, coercion and intimidation against their spouse our children.

What is scary is I recognize these coaches with criminal records and they are in a small pool of coaches I know.  There is a much larger pool of coaches I don’t know.  Are we comfortable with a hit-and-miss style of screening?

And save your breath, I don’t buy the “we-can’t-afford-it” story.  That is pure baloney.

I would have so much more respect for someone who honestly said, “screening is not a priority.”  Frightening, yes.  But honest.

Truthfully, I have never seen an organization that did not find money for their priorities.  The same groups that say they do not have the money will gladly raise their participant fees $10 to cover the costs of new uniforms, warm-ups, bags, matching shoes or the cost of traveling.  But they would never raise the participant fee $3 to ensure the safety and security of the children.

Now, I have served on many boards- sports, church, homeless teen ministry, domestic violence- and have witnessed control issues seeping into the boardroom.   I would hate to think that control- “you are not going to tell me what to do”- would generate the resistance to background screening.

We should recognize that our coaches are also role models.  And even volunteer coaches should be held to a higher standard.  They are influencing a young life.

I understand a DUI or public intoxication record may not be a game stopper unless the coach could be driving players to games or practice.  But quality volunteer background checks will provide the information to make sound policy decisions.

Implementing quality volunteer background checks is not an easy task.  As we work through a process of overcoming resistance- control, ignorance, financial- we have to make sure we don’t acquiesce to the resistance and implement a low quality background screening program.

Don’t fall prey to cheap volunteer background checks.  The screening industry recognizes that ignorance +tight budgets = high profit.  They will hook you on a $10 volunteer background check that has a high failure rate with violent offenders, drugs, online predators and the list goes on and on.

Are you willing to take that risk?  If not, contact us today and we can guide you through a process of implementing a quality volunteer background screening program.