One and Done: 5 Reasons Why 1 Background Check is Not Enough

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Most organizations today recognize that it is essential to screen employees and volunteers. But of those organizations, it is evident there are two prevailing opinions regarding the frequency of background checks: those who run one background check at the beginning of a person’s service and then never again; and those who run background checks at regular intervals. Which camp do you fall in, and why?

If you fall into the camp that thinks one background check is enough, we want to give you 5 reasons to reconsider:

  1. Over time, people and their situations change. A background check is only as up-to-date at the time it is completed. Conducting background checks at regular intervals helps ensure parents and members that leaders and volunteers are consistently being monitored. Does a background check from 1980 give you confidence in a person today? From 2000? How about 2015? Things change.
  2. Gaps between volunteer service. Many volunteers serve at annual events such as camps or Vacation Bible School. Sometimes, these volunteers are from outside the organization or even a different part of the country. A background check every 2 or 3 years is a worthwhile investment to stay up-to-date on their activities. In addition, people often change volunteer or staff positions, which means they may have new or more frequent access to vulnerable populations.
  3. People are people. When a person is convicted of a crime, whether it’s a DUI or an act of violence or an accident, they typically don’t want people to know about it. Regular background checks take the “human” element out of the equation and keep you informed about potential problems.
  4. It’s a risk management best practice. A thorough screening process that includes regular background checks is important because of the legal risks that churches and other faith-based organizations face. No system is perfect, but consistency helps establish a track record of due diligence when it comes to your protection program. Getting people in the habit of rescreening and retraining puts it in their routine and consciousness, especially when people at all levels are conforming to the same standards.
  5. You can never be too careful, especially where children, youth and vulnerable adults are concerned. Abuse happens in communities large and small, and “We know everyone” has been proven wrong time and time again.

Repeated background screening at regular intervals can give your organization the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have done what you can to prevent abuse. Make sure your background checks offer the most comprehensive and quality information, too. Don’t settle for just a sex offender search or “national” criminal search. A multi-county background check is going to give you the most information for your investment. For more information about background checks, read our archived newsletter article, “Are Your Background Checks Worth Their Salt?”