Criminal and sexual offense records checks are only part of the process of screening out individuals with the potential to harm children and youth. There are many other elements you can—and should—use to assess the appropriateness and “fit” of an individual into your organization, its tasks, and its culture. Depending on the position being sought, the size of your organization, and the risks you’ve assessed, your comprehensive screening process may include:
- Marketing and recruitment materials
- Written application and Statement of Suitability (a signature certifies that the applicant knows of no reason that would prevent them from working safely with children and youth)
- Personal interview
- Internet search – Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- Observation of the applicant
- Reference checks (2-3, both written and verbal)
- Assessment of the home environment (in cases where the organization’s services are partly or wholly provided in the applicant’s home)
- National and state criminal history check
- National and state sex offender registry check
- Child abuse registry check.*
- Professional credentials and disciplinary records check
- Driving records check (if the position includes the responsibility to transport children and youth)
- Checking applicants against internal records. This strategy involves keeping lists of applicants who are disqualified during the screening process and employees/volunteers who are dismissed because of an offense. During the screening and selection process, your organization would then check current applicants against these lists to make sure the applicant has not been previously disqualified or dismissed.
*Requires a “DCF History Consent and Acknowledgement Form” signed by the potential employee or volunteer.
While we encourage all youth-serving organizations to incorporate as many of these elements as possible and appropriate in their screening process, it’s especially important to check state and national criminal history, sexual offense, and driving records of candidates with transportation responsibilities. We also encourage you to conduct periodic re-screening of all staff and volunteers—especially when positions involve the potential for unsupervised contact with children and youth. Your process for utilizing screening tools should be written into your organization’s policies and procedures.
Sample statement of Suitability
A clear statement that any information provided by the applicant that is later determined to be misleading or false may preclude the applicant from further consideration (or subject them to termination if the information is discovered after hire).
SAMPLE: I understand that any false or misleading information submitted in this application is cause for denial of this application or termination of my employment or volunteer services regardless of when or how discovered and that my services are subject of (the organization’s) review and the completion of a criminal history check.
Massachusetts requires organizations like public, private, and parochial schools to CORI employees at least once every three years. Some do it annually. See: (p41 footnote, CTA) https://www.mass.gov/eec-background-record-checks
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