Screening volunteers working with children

October 20, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Over time, screening processes for employees and volunteers working with children have become more sophisticated. Still, some organizations have been well behind the curve in utilizing best practices when it comes to weeding out predators. It has become abundantly clear that a cursory reference check will not serve any more.

During the 2014 Risk Summit in Chicago, Julie Novak of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), Susan Woessner of USA Swimming and Susan E. Yoder of the American Camp Association (ACA) highlighted critical issues and strategies concerning protecting children from abusers. A thorough vetting process can serve the dual purpose of keeping potential abusers away from children and protecting an organization from legal action in the case of a predator slipping through the safety net.

They offered the following screening strategies that BBBSA has found effective and has adopted over time:

  • Required education of participants;
  • Comprehensive application process;
  • In-depth personal interview and assessment of home environment. (This addresses motivation, ability to form a healthy relationship with a child, commitment.);
  • Youth serving organizations and significant other references obtained by trained professional staff;
  • Multi-layered criminal history record checks, including public domain searches; and,
  • Nationwide internal safety check.