One of the most important steps you can take to protect kids in your children’s ministry is running background checks (you can see why in this post).
But many church staff members don’t know where to start with running background checks. And others still feel bogged down with the arduous manual process of complicated paperwork, or unsure if they’re even using the right checks and volunteer credentials.
No matter if you’ve never run a single check, or you’ve been doing it for years, you can learn from this top 10 list of best practices for background screening in VBS and children’s ministry.
1. Screen everyone.
VBS workers of every rank and file should have a background check complete — from teachers and helpers to van drivers and kitchen workers. Really anyone on the property during VBS.
2. Rescreen your volunteers.
It’s recommended to run checks each year. If your screening provider integrates well with your church software, it will be easy to pull a list of previous years’ VBS volunteers, whose background checks are outdated, and quickly re-check them. Also, ensure your screening service monitors automatically on a monthly basis to help identify new crimes. This will keep you safe for additional events at your church throughout the year.
3. Find a Screening Provider that Integrates with your Church Software.
When your screening provider integrates with your church software, you should be able to pull a list of VBS volunteers in your church software, and click request check. With an effective integration, the results are then sent to you and stored securely in your database.
Servant Keeper and Verified Volunteer integrate together seamlessly. Simply click a button on a member profile in Servant Keeper. Then, Verified Volunteer will send them a request for a check. They’ll fill out their own information. Typically within 48-hours, you and the volunteer will both receive the results of the screening.
4. Save Church Staff Time and Money, and Protect Volunteer Privacy.
Use a screening service that allows volunteers to fill in their sensitive information, and offers them the option to donate to your ministry by choosing to cover all or part of the screening cost.
5. Use Multiple Layers of Screening
Multiple background check sources need to be searched to fill in database gaps and to help uncover potential new information. Checking the NSOPW registry, Nationwide and courthouse records is a good place to start.
6. Don’t Trust Instant Checks
Services that tout near-immediate results are from online or stale aggregated databases and are inaccurate and out of date, sometimes by several years.
7. Have a Background Screening Policy and Publicize It
Churches can be a target for criminals because they expect the church to be more trusting, or lack necessary resources. Publish your background check policy online to deter those with ill-intent from volunteering in the first place.
8. Validate Identities
Most background checks are based on an individual’s name and date of birth, so validating a person’s identity via a government-issued ID is essential.
9. Promote Transparency
Ensure all parties — the organization and the individual — receive a copy of the background check report.
10. Encourage Sharing
Save your church staff and your volunteers additional time and money. Encourage individuals to share their background check with other organizations they volunteer with. Likewise, consider accepting recent background checks that meet your policy’s standards.
For information on how quality volunteer background checks can help your church create a safer environment for your vacation bible school, contact Verified Volunteers. We’ll be happy to show you how our self-service platform makes the screening process seamless and efficient for everyone involved.