With spring sports registration comes spring sport background checks

It’s hard to believe, but winter is waning and spring sports registration is under way in many parts of the country. If your business, school or organization is involved in any way, shape or form with spring sports involving children and teenagers, now is the time to make sure you have — and are following — a clearly stated policy on background checks. Make sure everyone currently on staff has had a thorough background check, and that any new coach, volunteer or job applicant undergoes the same background screening.

Parents will be asking what your policy is, so have handouts on hand to give out as part of the registration process. And be sure to include a phone number and contact person for parents to call with questions or to report any activity they feel is suspicious or worrisome.

Finally, check with your state laws to make sure the type of background checks you’re doing are compliant with state regulations. And get the process under way as soon as possible — many coaches and volunteers tend to drag their feet when it comes to completing and returning the necessary forms. The last thing you want is to have a shortage of eligible coaches when it comes time for the season to start!

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Be Clear About Background Check Policy to Ease Parents Fears

Chances are if your business or organization deals with children, you’ve taken steps to ensure their safety through the use of background checks on every teacher, coach, minister, volunteer and staff member that comes in contact with youth. If so, good for you! But are you doing an adequate job of conveying to parents and guardians all the hard work you’ve done checking into people’s pasts?

As the school year starts and fall sports start revving up, don’t make it difficult for parents to find the information that’s on all their minds: Will my child be safe in your hands? Be sure to clearly state your background check policy on a letter, handbook or whatever material goes out to all parents at the beginning of your school year or program. Be Viagra specific, too. Don’t merely include a line about how staff and volunteers undergo background checks: Tell them exactly what is checked. Does your background check include a look at national and state sexual offender registries? What about criminal records? Does the report include just felony convictions in a certain number of years, or does it include every misdemeanor and conviction dating 10 years, or more?

The more specific you are, and the more clearly stated your background check policy is, the happier and more secure parents will feel trusting their children with you. Plus, such a strongly worded, clearly stated background check policy is a clear sign to would-be offenders that they’ll never get past your security gates, so they may as well not even try.

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VA Public Schools Not Consistent with Drug Testing

Parents of children within the Virginia public school system (with the exception of those in the Richmond area) may not realize that, although teachers are drug tested, staffers are not legally bound to be.

This glitch in the system has recently been brought to light by media outlets within the state, much to the surprise of families who have assumed that everyone working with their sons and Buy Viagra daughters has received comprehensive background checks.

The realization of this system glitch came to light after a high school teacher and security officer from Osbourn High School were charged with marijuana possession.

Public school officials are citing the cost of drug testing as a barrier to screening all staffers in this manner.  However, parents are now starting to put pressure on the public schools.

Background Screening Practical Application in the News

school-signIt’s a wise idea to look at the practical implications and applications of background screening from time to time; that’s why we’re happy to highlight this story from Milton, Pennsylvania.

At the Milton Area School District, there’s a new policy in place that will make sure that all kids are protected. The policy, set forth by the school board, requires all school district volunteers to go through background screening before they can help out.

As the media has been reporting, the background screening will include checks consisting of FBI reports, histories Pokies of child abuse and histories of criminal activity.

As we’ve noted in our blog previously, these types of school-related background checks are increasing in popularity as parents, teachers and administrators begin to become more aware of the security risks posed by unchecked volunteers. And the last thing any school district needs is the negative PR of a scandal.

We applaud Milton Area School District for taking this important step.  We also encourage you to step forward and ask your school officials how — or if — they background check their independent volunteers.

More Schools Implement Stringent Background Checks for Volunteers

Years ago, being a volunteer at your child’s school was a cut-and-dry proposition.  You basically told the administration, teacher, PTO/PTA, district or school staff that you wanted to help out… and the doors were held open for you to come in.  Today, it’s much different.  In fact, background checks of all volunteers is becoming more and more mainstream.

Typically, background checks are expected for any volunteers who help out, whether they have hands-on access to kids or not.  However, that doesn’t mean that parents, grandparents and guardians need to undergo background checks to attend school plays, community events, fundraisers and other special experiences. 

The cost of these types of background checks is often passed along to the parents.  Though some moms and dads feel the district or school should pay, having them invest does weed out the better candidates (aka, the ones who really want to be in the school with their kids.)

We’d like to know if your school insists upon background checks for all volunteers?  Fill out the poll below!

 

 

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  • USA Swimming Updates Background Checking Regulations

    It’s no secret that this year hasn’t been the best for USA Swimming, as a scandal earlier this year brought to light serious sexual abuse that had been occurring between USA Swimming employees and volunteers and swimmers.  As a result, updated Athlete Protection Policies were passed on Saturday at the U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention.

    Among the new Policies are:

    • Penalty changes for infractions.
    • Alterations in reporting structures to protect athletes.
    • New background checking rules/regulations that extend to volunteers as well as coaches.  (Note:  USA Swimming coaches have been background checked for many years; it has been peripheral persons — assistants, volunteers — that have slipped through the cracks recently.)
    • Timely systems for dealing with any reports.

    The new background checking procedures for USA Swimming will result in upwards of 40,000 more background checks taking place than have currently been happening.  USA Swimming plans that the upshot of the institution of these new background checks will be a significant reduction in the number of abuse cases that have plagued the sport.

    Though this is a terrific step and we applaud USA Swimming for dealing with the crisis, it’s still imperative for parents and guardians of swimmers to ask the question about background checks for their own edification as well as their children’s protection.

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  • Who Is Coaching the Kids?

    With school back in swing, tons of kids are getting back to their sports of choice — football, soccer, basketball, hockey.  But who’s coaching them?  That’s a question that every parent needs to seriously consider.  It’s also something that athletic programs need to think about.

    The benefits to background checking all personnel related to any athletic programs are really quite extensive:

    1.  If all coaches and other staff members (and volunteers) are background checked, that fact can be marketed to parents.  (And moms and dads love to know that their children are safe.)

    2.  The cost of the background checks can be passed to coaches, etc., as long as that’s legal within your state, school district, etc.  (Please check with an attorney for specifics.)

    3.  There will be no sudden “bad publicity” crises due to coaches taking advantage of the innocence of boys and girls.  (Make no mistake — that type of issue can bring an athletic program to its knees.)

    4.  The kids will be safe.  Above all else, this is something that everyone involved can bank upon.  And it’ll also enable them to learn the skills needed to perform at the highest level they possibly can.  (Safetly begets security which begets openness to training.)

    So… who is coaching the kids at your school district, school, community center, etc.?

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  • Who Pays for Background Checks?

    It’s an interesting question:  Who pays for background checks?

    Is it the employer?  The potential employee?  The school?  The school would-be volunteer?  The nanny?  The parents of the kids the nanny will be watching? 

    In a nutshell, the answer is a bit convoluted because it depends.

    Most employers pay for background checks themselves.  They simply consider it a cost of doing business and an insurance policy against making terrible hiring decisions.  However, there are some companies that are moving to making the possible employee pay for his or her background check; we’d suggest looking into the legality of doing so depending upon your field.

    As for nonprofit organizations, a good deal require that potential volunteers pay for their own background checks.  That way, the entity doesn’t have to use funds to do so, and they ensure that any volunteers really want to be there since they’ve already used their own monies for clearances and background screening.

    At this point, we’d really like to know your thoughts on the subject…

    Have you ever paid for a background check to be performed on you?  Would you?  Conversely, have you ever made someone pay to have a background check report run on him or her?

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  • Parents May Not Always Pass Background Screening Checks to Volunteer at Schools

    With the start of schools around the country, there has been a subtle flurry of headlines related to parents who are unable to volunteer at their children’s schools.  Though it might immediately sound like the moms and dads are being denied access to their kids, it’s more likely that they couldn’t pass a background screening process.

    Many schools have begun adopting a policy that only allows adults to volunteer if they can pass a basic background screening.  Typically, these types of background screenings check criminal histories (e.g., sex crimes, drug problems) and, if the volunteer position involves handling money, credit histories as well.

    If the parents do not pass, the school is left with no choice but to deny them the opportunity to volunteer.

    While there are certainly some groups that feel it’s “unfair” to use background screenings in this manner, we believe that it’s a great way to protect children from would-be predators.  Without background screening measures in place, the unthinkable can (and, unfortunately, sometimes does) occur.  And no school can afford that.

    In the end, it’s better for everyone… even if it does ruffle a few feathers along the way.

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  • Back to School Question – Are the Crossing Guards for Your Kids Background Checked?

    Go to any school zone and you’re bound to see a lot of things, such as backpacks, brown lunch bags and the ever-present crossing guard.  But just because they’re there doesn’t mean they should be… especially if they haven’t been rigorously background checked.

    If it seems too outrageous to even consider that a crossing guard could be anything but sweet and protective, think again.  Any person can apply to any job… including a person who has a criminal record.  And if they aren’t screened, those individuals could easily have access to kids.

    So what is a parent to do?  First of all, any mom or dad should ask about crossing guards — who employs them, whether they are background checked,  etc.  If they haven’t been screened, parents should demand to know why.  And if they have, parents should definitely make it a point to meet the crossing guards if at all possible.

    Above all else, it’s a safety precaution… and our children deserve to be safe.

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