Screening means thorough reference and background checks, including review of criminal and sexual offender records, for all employees, staff, volunteers, and community members whose potential employment or volunteer service involves direct contact with or the potential for unmonitored access to children (including individuals who provide transportation to children). Screening for child sexual abuse should be purposefully integrated into your standard screening and selection process for both paid and volunteer positions. All candidates for a particular position should undergo the same screening process.
Beyond employees and volunteers, it may also be appropriate to ask vendors and contractors for your organization to provide evidence that a background check was completed on any individual they send to provide your services. A background check may not be necessary if the vendor or contractor is not providing direct services to children and youth, is restricted to the area where the service is being provided, or can either be accompanied or observed. In each case, adults in your organization should know that vendor/contractor personnel are on your premises and that children/youth are not to be permitted near the workspace unaccompanied.
It’s important to note that employee and volunteer screening and selection are important, but aren’t by themselves a guarantee of safety—so they should be integrated with the many other measures and efforts we describe as part of a broader plan to prevent child sexual abuse at your organization. You must also continue to maintain vigilance and ensure that all staff members, employees, and volunteers receive adequate training, supervision, and management support to fulfill the organization’s mission. Staff screening can be time-consuming, and fees may be associated with some background checks—but that cost would be significantly exceeded by the cost of your failure to screen, should subsequent harm come to children you serve.
A well-designed screening process, in combination with the other practices outlined on this website, is an investment in the future of your youth-serving organization and the safety and wellbeing of the children and youth you serve.
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