Volunteer Screening: Rescreening Best Practices
Posted Thursday, August 13th, 2015 by Verified Volunteers Staff
We’ve covered the importance of rescreening your volunteers before on this blog. Still, volunteer managers, executive directors, and board members ask me all the time how often their volunteers should be rescreened. They want to know what best practices they need to follow in order to feel confident that their staff, volunteers, constituents, and communities are safe.
As the Executive Director of a volunteer screening company, I am constantly reviewing our screening statistics – the amount of criminal history information we find during the first background screen, through monthly updates, and through rescreens. I am shocked at what we find on a near daily basis. Based on these findings, we are firm believers in annual volunteer screening. Let me run down the reasoning:
The First Volunteer Background Screen: Finding the Bad Apples
When our clients run initial screens on prospective volunteers, they of course weed out the less than wholesome candidates based on criminal history information returned via background check reports.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean they automatically remove all individuals with any type of criminal history from consideration. Rather, they review each background check report on an individual basis and decide who is acceptable to move forward as a volunteer candidate. This is usually based on the type of organization, the volunteer position in question, and the organization constituents the volunteer might come in contact with. For example, you’d likely give a pass to the recipient of a DUI if they will never drive on behalf of your organization.
In any case, it follows that anyone that currently volunteers for an organization with a volunteer screening policy has passed a background check to that organization’s satisfaction. The problem is, people can – and do – commit crimes after they begin working or volunteering with your organization.
Monthly Screening Updates: Keeping on Top of New Information of Interest
Because of that last statement – that people commit crimes after they begin working or volunteering with your organization, at Verified Volunteers we don’t stop with the first check. We conduct monthly Nationwide Criminal History search updates for 11 months after the original background check report is run (for a total background check period of 1 year) and alert our clients to any new cases that are found – and we find hundreds of new cases each week.
We find all kinds of activity with these monthly updates – everything from misdemeanors (e.g. trespassing) to felonies (e.g. sexual assault). This proves that it’s important for you to monitor individuals for new criminal history on an ongoing basis. After all, do you want an individual that was just charged with aggravated assault last month working with small children?
After the First Year: What’s Next?
Because of the oftentimes scary information we find on monthly updates, it is Verified Volunteers’ recommendation that volunteers working with vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, or the disabled, are screened annually – with monthly updates in the interim. For all other volunteers, we also recommend annual screening if possible. If not possible, we urge clients to screen at least every two years. This goes a long way towards protecting your people, your assets, and your reputation – all of which are vital to the survival of your organization and to helping your reach your mission.
What I’ve outlined above is, of course, our general view of rescreening policies. I would be happy to speak with you about your individual volunteer screening program. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: My Rescreening Policy and I will get in touch!