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Should My Children's Ministry Perform Background Checks?
Every Children's ministry should perform criminal background checks of ALL volunteers, workers, staff, and leadership. This applies to ministries of all sizes.
Why should I perform background checks?
Performing criminal background checks are about safety and liability.
In terms of safety, we do not want to have an individual working with or in close proximity to children that have anything that would be disqualifying. Our children, volunteers, and staff need to be safe. This safety starts with having the right people serving in the Children's Ministry.
When it comes to liability, we can needlessly expose our church to liability for not performing background checks. In many states, we are legally required to run background checks on every individual that is on staff or volunteering in the children's ministry. Failure to adhere can result in fines starting at $1,000 per individual. Not having a team properly screened and checked could amount to fines costing thousands of dollars! ?
How should I perform background checks?
Use a reputable background check service to run a federal and state criminal background check. We say both because there are some crimes that are only reported on a state basis while others are reported federally. We recommend using a service that has a proven history and good reviews. Pricing is oftentimes based on the volume of checks you do. The typical going rate for a federal and state criminal background check is roughly $15-20 per person each time.
How often should I perform background checks?
Background checks are done annually, as they expire after one year.
Keeping Track of Background Checks with ChurchTrac
We always want to make sure that our staff and volunteer background checks are up to date. The best way to keep track of background checks is to create a User Defined Field with the date the background check was done. After that, create a Smart List once a month in which your criteria are less than the date of your choosing. In the example below, we are generating a Smart List that will show every person with a background check that was done before October 31st of the previous year. This shows us everyone that is due for another background check.
You can also create a PDF file User Defined Field. This is perfect for keeping a digital copy of each person's background check attached to their name. When it's time to update their background check, just remove the old file and attach the new one. ? You can learn more about User Defined Fields at https://www.churchtrac.com/support/people/user-defined-fields
Commonly asked questions about background checks.
My children's ministry is small, do I really have to do background checks?
Depending on your state, you may be legally required regardless of the size of your ministry. Even so, is the safety and liability of your church not worth a few dollars? The cost of doing background checks on half a dozen people is typically less than $120.
Should all our staff have a background check?
Anyone who works with or near children should have a background check. Most churches run background checks on all staff and volunteers, even if they do not directly serve in the children's ministry.
Background checks are an important process of keeping our children's ministry safe and secure. They serve as a first-line defense in properly vetting our volunteers. To learn more ways to increase the safety and security of your children's ministry, check out 5 Ways To Keep Our Children's Ministry Safe.