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More Volunteers Screened with Criminal Background Checks to Protect Children

by Tom Ahearn 11/2/2009 11:58:00 AM

According to an article in USA TODAY, screening volunteers with criminal background checks has become common in many volunteer organizations, and background checks are seen as an effective way to protect children, the elderly, and the disabled from sex offenders and people with criminal pasts — and protect volunteer organizations from liability over negligent recruiting.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor's "VOLUNTEERING IN THE UNITED STATES,  2008" report reveals that approximately 61.8 million people (or 26.4 percent of the population) volunteered at least once between September 2007 and September 2008.

If volunteers in America work with children, the elderly, and the disabled, they most likely undergo criminal background checks that look for "red flags" such as drug felonies, domestic violence, child abuse, and sex crimes, USA TODAY reports. Using background checks on volunteers has grown steadily since 1993, when the National Child Protection Act became law and enabled organizations to use criminal background checks to screen out volunteers with criminal records, according to USA TODAY, and some states have enacted their own laws concerning volunteer background checks:

  • Florida: A 2005 state law requires school districts to run potential volunteers through the sexual predator and offender database.
  • Minnesota: A 2008 state law made background checks mandatory for volunteers who work with children, the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations.
  • Ohio: A 2001 state law encourages youth organizations to require background checks for volunteers.
  • Oregon: A 2001 state law authorizes the State Police to conduct national background checks on people volunteering to work with children, the elderly and the disabled.

Ensuring the safety and security of members and the community should be a top priority for volunteer organizations, and they need a volunteer background check program in place that meets the specific requirements of for volunteer screening, — a pioneer in the consumer requested and applicant supplied background check industry — has developed a unique and comprehensive Volunteer Tracking System (VTS) for volunteer background checks that tracks volunteer applicants that effectively manages risk, significantly reduces volunteer background check costs, and protects volunteers, volunteer organizations, and the community.

For more information about's Volunteer Tracking System (VTS) for volunteer background checks, visit, call 1-800-503-2364, or request information. Take a Volunteer Screening and Risk Management Nonprofit Organization Survey. Follow on Twitter at

Church Background Check Sample Shows 1 in 8 Volunteers Have Criminal Past

by Tom Ahearn 8/17/2009 2:34:00 PM

The results of a recent sample of criminal background checks on prospective church volunteers show the need for churches to remain on guard in protecting their congregations against workers with criminal pasts.

According to an article posted online at The Birmingham (AL) News, an agency that conducted 5,000 background checks for 450 churches found serious felonies in 80 cases and more than 600 people – almost 1 in 8 – that had some criminal history that may disqualify them from working at a church.

For example, the article reports that the Westmont Baptist Church in Birmingham – which supported a resolution adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2007 that urged churches to perform criminal background checks on employees – has a policy in place that even volunteers that work with youth down through preschool cannot work as a volunteer unless they pass the background check. According to the story, the church began using a background check service two months ago and already has declined security clearance to a potential volunteer because of information found during a background check.

The churches that have taken part in the background check program are not all Southern Baptist, the article reports, and the statistics did not include geographical or denominational breakdowns. Overall, according to the report, while only a small percentage of churches even do minimal background checks, the message is getting out to churches about the importance of background checks.

The results of the background check program reported in the article shows that any organization – even if it is a church – must take steps to ensure the safety and security of its members and the community. – a leader in consumer requested and applicant supplied background checks – offers a Volunteer Tracking System (VTS) to help non-profit organizations manage risk at minimal costs.

For more information about how the Volunteer Tracking System (VTS) helps volunteer organizations like churches, visit, fill out a "Request More Information" form, call 1-800-503-2364, or complete a Volunteer Screening and Risk Management Nonprofit Organization Survey. To follow on Twitter, visit

No Summer Vacation for Volunteer Screening

by Tom Ahearn 5/28/2009 12:22:00 PM

With summer vacation almost here, some parents are busy making – or have already made – plans to send their children off to summer camps for days, weeks, even months. However, while summer camp should be a time for fun, freedom, and frolicking, volunteer screening helps keep it safe and secure.

Ensuring the safety and security of campers is a top priority for any summer camp. Since many popular organizations promoting summer camps are nonprofits – meaning that they must rely on the work of volunteers – a thorough and extensive volunteer screening program is necessary to protect the campers, fellow summer camp workers, and organizations.

According to the American Camp Association (ACA), more than 11 million children and adults attend approximately 12,000 camps throughout the United States, and these camps use almost two million individuals as staff or volunteers to serve children, youth, and those with special needs.

While the benefits of the summer camp experience are many – including the learning of responsibility, resourcefulness, and resilience – these lessons can only be taught in a safe and caring environment. To ensure that environment exists and is protected, many camps routinely perform volunteer screening of applicants to increase security and reduce risk and liability.

And while the chances of having Jason Voorhees from the “The Friday the 13th” horror movie series as a summer camp counselor are non-existent, it takes only one volunteer with a criminal past – and future criminal intentions – to turn a summer full of laughter into a memory full of sorrow.

To meet the specific requirements of non-profit organizations for volunteer screening, – a leading provider of volunteer screening for nonprofits such as the American Red Cross – has developed a unique and comprehensive Volunteer Tracking System (VTS). VTS tracks volunteer applicants within nonprofit organizations for effective risk management at the local, regional, and national levels, while significantly reducing volunteer screening costs and protecting volunteers, communities, and organizations.

VTS also allows a volunteer screening “donation” option in which the volunteer donates the cost required for the volunteer screening, allowing the money saved by the nonprofit organization to be used on the children instead. In return, the volunteer can use the screening reports for college entrance, rental applications, and job opportunities.

For more information about’s VTS, please visit, email, or speak with a VTS representative at 1-800-503-2364.

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Does Your Church Conduct Background Checks?

by Desiree Bryant 10/28/2008 5:30:00 PM

Pastor Pleads Guilty to Stealing 200K from Church…

Churches and all other nonprofit organizations need to take a closer look at the risks of hiring pastors, volunteers or anyone without conducting background checks.  In a recent case reported by Cleveland’s Newsnet5, a pastor took money from a fund for the poor, stole another church member’s identity, and took out loans against the church’s assets. This man, Donald Robinson, had already served time in a federal prison for real estate fraud in another state. A simple background check would have prevented him from victimizing this church and its members.

There are countless historical and recent incidents of pastors, priests, and other religious leaders taking advantage of their positions and financial contributions from members.  Affordable background checks are now readily available to help stop these individuals from infiltrating your organizations.

All nonprofit organizations seek to gain from background checks for many reasons other than embezzlement and identity theft.  Child sex abuse is a growing problem for religious organizations as well as other areas of society. The Baptist Press issued a press release last month on the initiative of the International Mission Board (IMB) to increase the use of background checks, mainly to protect children from sex abuse.

If your organization is concerned about affording background checks, the costs are far less than that of a catastrophic incident. offers a Volunteer Tracking System for Nonprofit organizations that encompasses an overall risk management program at minimal costs. This program is recommended by the National Council of Nonprofit Associations.

Please visit for more information and resources.

Identity Theft in California Mayor's Office...

by Desiree Bryant 10/28/2008 5:10:00 PM

As identity theft becomes an escalating risk  for Americans, we find that the Oakland Mayor’s office failed to conduct a background check on an intern who turned out to be a known embezzler (SF Gate report here). Patricia Williams allegedly stole the bank account information of 100 donors to their Holiday Toy Drive, stole the identity of a co-worker, and charged over $10,000 on stolen account information.

In a world where private information is so easily obtained and used for fraud, every business, especially government offices, should be conducting background checks. If government offices and businesses are skimping on background checks because of the cost, imagine what this incident cost the Mayor’s office. I wouldn't be surprised if the phones have been ringing off the hook and the attorneys have already moved in for a negligent hiring kill.

Fortunately, there are solutions for those who are victims of identity theft. Because identity theft is the number one crime today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is working diligently on solutions to help consumers. By ordering your own credit and criminal background checks you can monitor discrepancies and control who sees your information.

In addition to monitoring your own background checks, the Identity Theft Red Flag Rules issued by the FTC will be going into effect in November. Financial institutions and other users of consumer reports will now have to closely monitor your accounts for identity theft and identity fraud and respond appropriately to prevent and mitigate damages.

Go to to learn more about how you can take control of your personal information.

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