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Background Checks: What Every Organization Should Know

By March 13, 2019November 17th, 2022Abuse Prevention

There are numerous items in your safety planning, the least of which involves background checks.  We wanted to share a refresher with you on this important area and also make you aware of company that is providing discounted services for our clientele.

Before we get started with some basic questions, let’s remember two very important facts:

  1. Conducting background checks is essential; 
  2. However, if all you’re doing is conducting background checks, that is not enough!

Background checks should be considered as just one part of an overall risk management plan which should also include written applications, staff training, and reference checks.  The reference checks should be from other institutions or programs such as churches, schools, and coaching etc., ideally from which the applicant has worked with minors.

Okay, lets evaluate some basics…

Why should churches and non-profits conduct background checks?

  • The purpose of conducting background checks is to protect children from child sexual abuse. Over the past twenty years, sexual abuse has been one of the top reasons why churches and ministries are being sued so conducting a background check is an essential so that you won’t allow someone with a criminal record to volunteer.
  • While protecting children is the paramount reason, let’s not overlook the negative impact a sexual allegation or incident could have on your ministry. Conducting background checks will help protect your ministry.
  • Those who seek access to children will often follow the path of least resistance, so conducting background checks, along with other processes, will discourage those with ill intent.

Who should receive a background check?

  • Anyone who serves with infants, children, or youth. In addition, it is important to run background checks on each of your employees or anyone who has access to children on a regular basis.

Must  I run a background check on the volunteer who only works on Sunday?

  • It is our recommendation that you run background checks on anyone who has access to your children or Sunday or events throughout the week.

How often do I conduct background checks?

  • This is a question that you and your leadership must decide. Some organizations run them every two years. Some every five years. And some organizations run them once and never again. If you have an extensive hiring process that includes through reference checking, interviews, and screening, you may want to run them every five years. If you are not checking references and doing a complete screening process, you might want to run them every two years.

What other kinds of background reports are available and when should I use them?

  • Other reports you may want to consider are the Motor Vehicle Report and the Credit Report. The Motor Vehicle report is good for anyone who will be transporting people on behalf of the ministry of your organization. This could include mission trips, special events, camps, and retreats etc. We recommend you run the Credit Report on anyone who is handling money in your organization. This includes Money Counters, Bookkeepers, Treasurers, or those opening mail.

Again, remember that background checks are essential, but not the only plan. Even so, many churches and organizations still do not conduct background checks. Why? There could a variety of reasons, but we’ll narrow it down to the three we perhaps hear of most often.

1) We know everybody –  The tendency, especially with some smaller congregations, is to assume that you know everything about that person. The truth is, you may not. Time and time again, we know of individuals that we never would have thought had a criminal background or had other issues of concern. Diligence on your part in doing a background check would have revealed a past or tendencies you would never have dreamed of, so this is no longer a valid excuse.

2) We can’t afford it – For as little as $7.50, you can obtain a National Background check (which also includes a national sex offender registry search, a SSN and address history trace, and an alias name search though a national database).  On a side note, a national background check is the preferred minimum; only conducting State or County searches could be too restrictive.

3) We will discourage volunteers – Unless someone has something to hide, it shouldn’t matter and will tend to attract more quality volunteers.

We welcome you to view our website at and under the Safety Resources tab you’ll find the background check link to Protect My Ministry, our chosen provider for you.  Just complete the “Sign Up For Info” and one of their skilled representatives will contact you.  Should you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us as well.