Here at the Office of Safe Church Ministry, we receive a variety of questions concerning background screening practices. To be honest though, we aren't the ones actually doing many background screenings! I have done some digging into a variety of companies offering background check services, however, I am still having a tough time finding out which one is best. So, I'd love to hear from you!
- What background screening service do you, or your church, use?
- Are you satisfied?
- Do you recommend their screening services?
Just as an FYI, here is a quick quote concerning background checks from our soon to be released toolkit to help churches develop and revise their policies:
Screening Leaders and Volunteers:
What criteria will be followed to screen and select volunteers and staff? Who obtains and reviews the application/screening materials? Who approves the applications? After the screening process is completed, how are screening materials stored?
One important component of abuse prevention is holding ministry leaders to high standards. Appropriate screening for staff, elders, deacons, ministry leaders, and volunteers is essential. Along with an application, an interview, and reference checks, a criminal background check should be part of the screening process, especially for those who work with children, youth, and vulnerable populations. Properly screening your leaders will require some effort, time, and money; but if you’ve ever dealt with the horrific impacts of abuse, you will understand that these efforts are worthwhile.
Each congregation must weigh the risks, benefits, and costs in determining which positions require interviews, reference checks and background checks. These resources from Brotherhood Mutual Insurance on Who to Screen, may be helpful.
Once all the screening procedures are outlined, decide how you will keep records of the screening materials. Also, decide how often staff and volunteers will need to go through the screening process. Make sure to re-screen your staff and volunteers every few years to ensure the safety of the congregation. Some limited background screening services are free for nonprofits, for example, the Michigan State Police offers ICHAT: a state-wide internet criminal history access tool. However, a state background check has limits and should be used in conjunction with a national background check at least semi-annually.
The following organizations have been successfully used by CRC congregations and ministries to help secure background checks:
- Protect My Ministry – Protect My Ministry is committed to helping faith-based organizations maintain a safe environment, so they can focus on fulfilling their mission. Protect My Ministry offers a process, products, and solutions that work for churches. A discount is available for CRC congregations through Protect My Ministry when you use this link.
- Plan to Protect – At Plan to Protect, our priority is abuse prevention and vulnerable sector protection. Plan to Protect equips your team with effective and customized policies, procedures, and training.
- ScreeningONE – Screening One offers a comprehensive suite of screening solutions.
- myBackCheck – My Back Check provides Canadians the opportunity to obtain background checks online and share them wherever they work or volunteer.