If you don’t already have an employee/volunteer screening policy, you need one. It’s non-negotiable. A thorough screening policy will not only help protect your religious organization and the people within it from psychopaths, it will safeguard your church against any legal action that might be taken should a predator/thief/fraudster/etc. slip through your ranks.
But not all screening policies are created equal. And just because you conduct background checks on your employees and/or volunteers doesn’t mean that you have a ‘screening policy.’ It just means that you conduct background checks.
There are three key elements to any successful screening policy.
- CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK
- CONDUCT AT LEAST THREE CONFIDENTIAL REFERENCE CHECKS
- A PERSONAL INTERVIEW
Each element helps to identify whether or not an individual has anything in his/her background that would pose any danger to children. While no background screening is perfect, when combined, these three elements will help your church and ministry demonstrate that you have used reasonable care and diligence in selecting those who serve.
If you don’t already have a written, uniform screening policy, don’t fret. We can help you get started by laying out some basic information here. Use this information as a starting point in your understanding of what a screening policy should include.
Know what a background check is and what it isn’t
So you’re thinking about hiring Joe Schmoe to run your after school tutoring program. You check out his Facebook page. Seems harmless enough. His Twitter account has some juvenile humor, but nothing too offensive. You ask him if he’s ever had any run-ins with the law and he mentions a couple of speeding tickets. So far, so good, right? This background check stuff is easy.
What you’re doing is what every employer should do before they hire someone, but none of what you did qualifies as a background check. Why? A couple of reasons. One, it blurs the line between recruitment and hiring discrimination (this post explains the difference). Two, a background check should verify a person’s qualifications. Just because Joe’s LinkedIn profile says he’s a Horned Frog, doesn’t mean he actually attended Texas Christian University. Three, you want to know if you’re hiring someone who tells the truth and who has a criminal-free history. Those so-called speeding tickets? Did Joe forget to mention that one of them also resulted in a drunken driving arrest?
Understand the roles of compliance
These crucial components are the building blocks toward a structured and consistent screening policy that keep you within the confines of the law. Compliance is a big deal in the screening industry. One national screening industry leader reports that consumer protection penalties can run upward of $2,500 per violation for each employee affected. This includes volunteers, too.
Collaborate with the professionals to create or update your policy
In most cases, Protect My Ministry recommends outsourcing your screening needs to the experts. There are so many reasons why (scrolling through our blog will give you a ton of them), but one of our favorites is that our products are totally customizable so you only need to sign on for services that fit within the confines of your budget. Take a look at Ministry Mobilizer to see what we mean.
Even if you’re not ready to commit to our services, we have a skilled and committed Christian staff who believes in keeping you informed about important screening steps you need to take to protect your congregations. We make a lot of this information available to you on our website, simply because we want you and your people to be safe. Here’s a few examples:
- Recommendations for Child Protection Guidelines
- Sexual Misconduct Policy
- Guidelines for Screening Volunteers
We want you to feel empowered and informed when it comes to protecting your congregation through background checks and screening policies. If you have more questions for us, please write them below or Tweet us here.