volunteer background check

4 Reasons Not Doing Volunteer Background Checks Is Stupid

volunteer background checksOk, I know my kids would jump all over me if they read this post.  I can hear them now, “Dad said stupid.”  “Dad said stupid.”  “I’m telling.” True, it is a word I hate and address it every time one of my kids says it.  However, I have to admit, as an adult, there are times when you just need to use the word stupid.  Never to belittle or demean someone, but maybe to describe a situation.  Like Lindsay Lohan failing a drug test and going back to jail for I believe the 5th time.  Are you with me?

Even the most intelligent man to live, Albert Einstein, said the definition of stupid was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?  Okay, maybe that was his definition of insanity?

Anyway, I was thinking today that not doing quality volunteer background checks is stupid.  We live in a world where we have scores of information at our finger tips so screening should be the norm not the exception.

So here are 4 reasons not doing volunteer background checks is stupid?

  1. They are Cheap.  Now, do not confuse cheap with free.  Nor should you think you can conduct comprehensive background checks on volunteers for $10.  It cannot be done.  But you can create a safe organization for $18-$25.  A potential client called today “shopping” prices and said they have one quote that allows them to do 80-100 volunteer screenings for $100 per year.  I explained there was no way they could do quality background screening for $1 per check unless the company was just extremely gratuitous and if that is the case they will not be in business long.
  2. Our Kids Are Worth It.  There is no way in the world you would shop for a caretaker for your children based on the cheapest price?  I bet many of you have thought about using nanny cams and have done background checks that border on illegal.   Or have contemplated wiring your child like an undercover agent to stream all conversations to your iPhone.  Yet, we enter the workplace and view volunteer background checks as a commodity.  They are not.  Sooner or later the cheap criminal database searches will get someone hurt.
  3. You Don’t Know Everybody.  According to the FBI, domestic violence is the second most committed crime in the United States.  Petty larceny or theft is the only crime committed more frequently.  I helped develop and implement one of the largest law-enforcement based domestic violence programs in the U.S. and have spoken with thousands of survivors of domestic violence.  And guess what?  They all thought they knew this person who ended up hurting them physically and psychologically.  You really do not know somebody unless you have lived with them (I am not advocating that as a method of volunteer background screening).
  4. Protect Your Organization From Lawsuits.  If you are sued the one thing I will guarantee is the opposing attorney will assert you were not doing enough.  That is a real problem if you are not doing anything.  It is also a problem if you are doing cheap, ineffective background checks.  Ask Southport, Indiana Little League.  They were successfully sued because they allowed a convicted sex offender to coach and he molested 2 players.  The lawsuit claimed had they been doing background checks they could have prevented this.

The bottom line is volunteer background checks are not an option but must be a standard operating procedure.

Contact us today for a free evaluation of your volunteer background screening program.

 Your Turn

Why do so many background screening firms market cheap background checks and place so many volunteers, children and elderly at risk?

School Volunteer Background Checks in Indiana

school-volunteer-background-checks-indianaIt has been almost 7 years since WTHR Channel 13 and the Indianapolis Star did a two-part expose on the gaping holes in the Indiana State Police Limited Criminal History.  Channel 13 and the Star pulled 10 names off of the Indiana Sex Offender Registry and 8 out of the 10 convicted sex offenders came back clear.  It is hard to fathom, let alone stomach, a failure rate of 80% on a sex offender background check in Indiana. In July of 2009 the State of Indiana eliminated the Indiana Limited Criminal History as an employment background check option for Indiana school systems and began requiring an Expanded Criminal History Check.  Too many violent offenders and unsuitable applicants were slipping through the cracks and being hired by Indiana school systems.

So why do Indiana schools continue to rely upon this broken system to conduct thousands of volunteer background checks and grant them access to our children?  Money.  The state gives school systems free access to the Limited Criminal History.  With the current financial state of schools, discarding a free process, no matter how flawed, is not an easy sell to school boards.

However, the bottom line is the limited criminal history background checks in Indiana are still flawed.  No matter how tight our budgets are we still have a duty to protect our children from those who want to harm them.  So we need to be creative and come up with a solution that provides protection to the children and does not further bankrupt schools.

The Expanded Criminal History Checks require the applicants for employment to pay for their own background checks.  What a noble concept.  What applicant would not pay $30 for a background check in Indiana to get a job?  The same concept can be successfully applied to volunteers where the cost of a comprehensive volunteer background check is nearly half the cost of the employment checks.

So the bottom line is we have not seen much progress with school volunteer background checks in Indiana.  The Limited Criminal History is still flawed and full of data gaps and errors.  However, the good news is you can do comprehensive volunteer background screening and it does not have to break the bank.

If you are a volunteer organization and would like more information on our volunteer background screening packages click here.

Questions?  Comments?  Feel free to add your thoughts below.