Screening of Employees and Volunteers
Many organizations make the mistake of assuming that screening is synonymous with criminal background checks. Background checks are not an end-all. Because so few cases of sexual abuse are reported, and even fewer prosecuted, the yield tends to be fairly low with background checks. Therefore, organizations should make sure that criminal background checks are not the only element of their child protection policy, since they alone are insufficient to protect children. On the other hand, organizations should not minimize the importance of including criminal background checks in the screening process. Many liability insurers require them. Furthermore, if an abuse allegation occurs in an organization and criminal background checks have not been done, the organization is potentially exposed legally.
Probably the most positive perspective for any organization to have in the screening process is to think in terms of selecting the best possible staff and volunteers to work with youth, rather than thinking in terms of screening out potential perpetrators. In determining the specific approach to selecting staff and volunteers, an organization should consider its mission and make sure that the policies and procedures that are developed resonate with that mission.
An organization should also make sure that the entire screening process is incorporated into an overall human resource policy that includes careful supervision of all staff and volunteers who have responsibility for children and youth. Consultation with an attorney is essential in this process.
The National Center for Safety Initiatives, or NCSI, provides a ground-breaking approach to background screening that fully manages the process –start to finish - focusing efforts, systems, and expertise on seven identified risk factors to help client organizations meet due diligence.
NCSI's background screening programs are recognized as the "Standard of Care" in the youth serving industry.