Everyday schools across the country approve volunteers to supervise and lead children. Most use some type of screening, but not all background checks are the same! Here are five ways your background screening practices might be endangering kids and how to avoid them:
- There is no such thing as a “national” database. A commercial database has records from approximately 50% of U.S. courts. Envision a wireless map – great coverage some areas; none at all for others. Fifty-fifty isn’t bad odds, but not when kids are involved. Commercial databases are a great tool to expand the search, but we don’t recommend them as a sole or primary source.
- Don’t use state repositories or the FBI unless mandated to do so. State repositories and the FBI database have many limitations including missing or incomplete records. It’s also roughly three times more costly than a professional grade screen and can take five times longer.
- Instant checks are dangerous. An instant check is a name based search against a commercial database. Typically, these databases are stale and updated infrequently. There is no vetting process, meaning any record found has not been verified. Not only does this type of search create a false sense of safety, but it can also be non-compliant. The FCRA requires strict procedures to ensure reported information is accurate and up-to-date. If not, applicants must receive an FCRA 613 letter at the same time results are delivered.
- Just searching sex offender registries is not sufficient. While searching sex offender registries in real-time (not a database) is part of a best practices search, you shouldn’t stop there. Sexual predators are not the only criminals that should not have access to an organization. Offenses like assault, armed robbery or other violent crimes could also be considered as behaviors not suitable for volunteers who work with children. Also consider that many organizations across the country are victims of theft; thus, looking into the backgrounds of those handling funds is recommended. These types of offenses are only found through criminal searches.
- Don’t let your provider nickel and dime you! Some vendors promote a flat fee search, but then your invoice arrives with lines of extra fees (typically access fees for each county search). Access fees are required of any firm seeking records, but BIB offers packages inclusive of all access fees; thus you can stay on budget.