To strengthen your screening and hiring process, you can use the questions in Thinking About Risk to make decisions about what additional background screening practices you will utilize. Whether performed formally by an HR office, or with pencil and paper by a small business owner, these questions are designed to help you carefully examine the types of risk individuals in positions of trust with children may pose—focusing on opportunities for harm. The questions will help you think about your physical setting; the ages and vulnerabilities of the children/youth you serve; an applicant’s potential contact with the child/youth; the nature, duration, and frequency of that contact; and the level of supervision and monitoring of that contact. Based on the results of this analysis, you may need to pursue further screening.
Thinking About Risk
- What is the nature of the contact between the employee/volunteer and the child(ren)/youth?
- What is the duration and frequency of the contact?
- In what physical locations will the contact take place?
- Is the contact monitored, supervised, or unsupervised?
- What are the ages and vulnerabilities of the children being served?
- Will other adults be in the same area?
- What is the potential for the employee/volunteer to be alone with the child(ren)/youth and unseen?
Based on this assessment, positions should be assigned a risk designation:
- High: Expected unsupervised/unmonitored interaction with children
- Moderate: Potential unsupervised/unmonitored interaction with children
- Low: Exclusively supervised/monitored interaction, or no potential contact with children
These designations should correlate with your organization’s requirement for specific screening protocols, and should be indicated in your job descriptions. According to best practices, the higher the risk to children, the more in-depth the screening protocol for a position should be.
A screening protocol addressing multiple levels of risk applies to larger organizations with sufficient numbers of employees and volunteers serving in different functions, and with varying levels of interaction with children and youth. It’s not uncommon for organizations like this to pay for the services of a commercial vendor to conduct these types of multi-level background checks—from standard Massachusetts criminal records checks (CORI/SORI) to national, multi-state (especially those states in which the applicant has worked or volunteered previously), international, and Interpol criminal and sexual offense records searches.
For smaller YSOs and businesses with few employees or volunteers, where a manager or supervisor is responsible for screening and hiring applicants, and the risk is determined to be equivalent or level across positions in the organization, the policy could be equal treatment of all applicants, with a standard screening protocol that applies to applicants for all positions interacting with children and youth.
CORI Acknowledgement FORM
CORI Request form
SORI Request FORM
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