For many churches, the holiday season is a great way for them to serve and make a great impact on their community. Many use this season for various outreach opportunities. But if your outreach opportunities involve serving vulnerable populations, we want to share best practices around properly screening staff or volunteers before the holiday season.
Many churches and ministries are inherently trusting of their communities. In many ways, this is admirable. But, when running a church – or any not-for-profit organization – your priority should be to protect the people you serve. That’s why implementing an efficient background screening policy for your church is imperative.
If you don’t already have a background check policy in place for your ministry or could use help strengthening your screening program, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll cover a background screening guide for churches, including the importance of staff and volunteer background checks, ministry screening requirements you should implement, and how to build and manage your church’s background check program effectively.
Holiday Volunteer Opportunities that Should Require a Background Check
Not every outreach initiative this holiday may require that volunteers have a background check. Your ministry may be putting up a giving tree to help families who are in need, or maybe you’re hosting a Thanksgiving food pantry drive. But if your ministry is offering any of the following volunteer opportunities, we highly encourage you to learn how to build your ministry’s background check screening program:
- Serving seniors
- Bringing youth together to participate in an outreach
- Hosting a youth holiday lock-in
Importance of Background Checks in Churches
Unfortunately, all it takes is a single incident to ruin your church’s reputation and trust within your congregation and in the community. As a church, you might work with several vulnerable populations, including children and elderly people. These people require additional protection, and as a ministry leader, it is your duty to guarantee their safety in your organization. That’s why creating a background screening policy is essential to your congregation’s ongoing protection.
Through screening your church staff and volunteers, you can effectively safeguard the people that you serve. Here are a few reasons to implement a background screening policy for your church:
- Proactively ensure safety and prevent negligence
- Bring peace of mind to parents, congregation members, and the community
- Reduce liability
- Promote transparency
- Establish clear expectations of staff and volunteers
Church Background Screening Requirements
It is the legal responsibility of youth-serving organizations to ensure children’s protection against harm and misconduct. That’s why it’s essential to establish a background screening program for your ministry.
A basic background check can help confirm the identity and personal character of the volunteer while also checking their criminal history. A background check for your church volunteer and staff should cover the following, at a minimum:
- National Criminal Search
- Social Security Number Verification
- Sex Offender Registries Search
- Abuse Registry Search
Building Your Church Background Screening Program
It can be challenging to determine the right background screening program for your church’s needs. Let’s explore some actionable steps you can take to establish a background check system for your ministry.
1) Establish a Written Screening Policy
Creating a standardized background screening policy can help both your organization and your volunteers understand expectations and requirements. Your screening policy should clearly define the reason for conducting background checks, what is expected of staff and volunteers for screens, your disqualification criteria, and relevant compliance information.
2) Define the Volunteer Onboarding Process
Be transparent with your staff and volunteers about their roles and responsibilities, onboarding process and expectations, and communication. Clear communication during the volunteer onboarding process will help create a positive experience and structure for your church volunteers. Some ways to do this is include creating volunteer one-sheets, partnering new volunteers with seasoned ones, and holding consistent informational sessions.
3) Partner With a Background Check Provider
Finding, onboarding, and managing new staff and volunteers is challenging enough without the right tools and technologies in place. Utilizing a background screening provider, specifically one that already integrates with your chosen ministry volunteer management platform, can help take some of the work off your plate.
Church Background Checks by Verified First
Your ministry’s mission is unique, and so are your background screening needs. When you partner with Verified First and ACS Technologies, we stand alongside your organization to help facilitate your screening needs, help you stay compliant, and better manage your recruitment and onboarding efforts.
Partnering with the right church volunteer management and background screening provider is essential to efficiently onboarding and maintaining your volunteers. Verified First seamlessly integrates with ACS Technologies’ solutions, allowing users to easily order, review, and manage Verified First’s background screening solutions without having to leave the ACS platform.
About Verified First
Verified First is the leading comprehensive background screening processor partnered with ACS Technologies. Together, we lead the market in knowing how best to help churches manage, grow, and protect their church with easy-to-use, integrated solutions. Verified First has received accreditation and is a National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) member. This accreditation means Verified First has dedicated itself to providing the highest level of standards. These standards include information security, legal and compliance, client education, researcher and data standards, verification services, and business practices.