Questions on Implementing Background Checks

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Our church is beginning the transition to implementing background checks. We are running into several snags and would love the input and experience of others.

-What agencies do other churches use to conduct background checks? What is the cost per check? Recommendations?

-How and where do you store the background checks that come in?

-How do you handle background checks for undocumented immigrants attending your church who work with your children's ministries?

-How do you communicate this transition to your congregation?

-How do you respond to individuals who have been serving in children's ministry for years but who refuse to consent to a background check?

Thanks for any input, suggestions, advice, and experience!

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This only addresses part of your post, but, in the case of people who refuse background checks, I recommend emphasizing how Safe Church policies protect volunteers as well as children. Background checks as well as policies protect adults from false accusations and litigation. 

 

Also, here is a one page resource on background checks that might be helpful to discuss with people. 

Community Builder

Hi Kory.

Here is a link to a page on the ServiceLink site with some additional info on background checks, and there is a link to ScreeningOne, which processes online background checks in the US.

http://www.crcna.org/servicelink/resources/background-checks

I would echo Libby's comment about emphasizing the integrity of the ministry and the doing a background check is a very small 'self sacrifice' toward our covenantal commitment to children and those with special needs.

There may be things you can do to accommodate and make it more convenient for people to go through the background check procedure.  The soccer association I coach with arranged for the local police dept. attend the coaches' registration day, ands the first phase of our background checks could happen there.  If there is a cost involved, you could consider covering or subsidizing that cost (typically under $50).

If you haven't done so already, contact your local police department and maybe one or two of the larger local minor sports organizations in your community.  While this may be new for you, there are others in your community who are likely already requiring these background checks, and they may be able to offer some helpful advice on how things work in your community and with your local police force.

And bravo to your congregation for taking this initiative.  It is not as intimidating as it first appears, and it demonstrates how much you value your ministry to children and those who are vulnerable.

Thanks, Libby and Ken, for your input and the helpful resources. Our local police can do something like 3/month. Do either of you (or anyone else) have any other suggested organizations and specific costs?

Thanks!

Community Builder

Hi Kory -- do you mean the police will only do 3 per month, or that turn-around is 3 months?  If turn-around is 3-months, you could phase it in.  If the police will only do 3 per month, that is a different problem....and one that you may wish to discuss along the political route since it creates the irony of the police process being the impediment to background checks.  As for other organizations, have you looked into this:

http://www.dps.state.ia.us/DCI/supportoperations/crimhistory/obtain_reco...

All the best as you sort this out.  Feel free to contact me at ServiceLink if I can offer any assistance ([email protected])

Participant

Hi Kory,

Thanks for you good question! It's encouraging to me that background checks are becoming more important in the CRC. More and more people are asking about them. And it's encouraging to see good answers to your question and resources already posted. The number of recent requests about background checks has led Safe Church Ministry to (very soon) add a page to our website regarding it. We are currently waiting to have one part of that approved (one company is prepared to offer a discount to CRC affiliates and we want that to be a part of our webpage). Your local police can give you guidance regarding background checks. There are different levels of background checks, and different costs associated with them. Each church must weigh the risks and costs carefully, and then chose what will be the best for that context. And it's important to note that a background check should never stand alone as a screening procedure, it's only one part of a process that can also include an application, interview, and checking references. And good policies are also important to prevent abuse, protect children and vulnerable adults, and as Libby points out, also protect the church from potential litigation. There are companies that help organizations with background checks. The following have been successfully used by many CRC ministries in the U.S. and Canada. 

Screening One (U.S.) and My Back Check (Canada) are very reliable companies that work with all kinds of organizations; their primarily work is with employers, but they also can help with any background check needs.

Protect My Ministry (U.S. and Canada) is an organization that is geared toward helping congregations and ministries and provides background checks as well as other services.

Plan to Protect (Canada - expanding to U.S.) is another organization that is more comprehensive in nature and has a lot to offer organizations that serve children and youth and are concerned with safety.  

 

I'm not sure how to answer your question about undocumented people - I've heard that background checks are possible with only a name and birth date (however, a more comprehensive check may require more than that). There should be no exceptions to any policy - change the policy if you need to - but be sure to follow it.  I'll check into it and let you know.

Participant

i've enjoyed reading the 'loaded/important' questions, and the wonderful responses. In addition to the comments already made, i assume you are in the US Kory, based on some of your questions, and i have no knowledge of US laws and insurance as it relates ...

As a starting point for a safe church, i often refer to the safe church 'stuff' very much the same as the Occupational Health and Safety Act here in Ontario. As a factory owner, our staff is engaged in constant education, as we try to create a mindset of safety in the workplace. Our safe church team at church is also trying to create a mindset of a safe environment for our vulnerable members and our volunteers. Of course we have policies, vulnerable sector checks, procedures, annual mandatory training, etc. etc.  but through all this, it is a mindset that we all want to create in our volunteers. By creating a mindset of safety, the policies, procedures are less of an issue, and Love can then prevail much easier.

Participant

 

Amen Fred! We are out to change our culture, not only follow rules. Safe Church is about creating a truly safe environment for all people, including those who may have experienced abuse, so that all of us together can worship, grow, and become all that we are created to be. It's a mindset that sees safe church as a critical part of building Christian communities that reflect our Lord, communities where his love and justice reign.