Volunteer Background Myths
Early this year I checked another box on my suburb dad bingo card... coaching my kids' team. And just like everyone else interacting with the kids I filled out a background check form and turned it in. Unlike everyone else, I was eager to get the results. No, I wasn't worried about what they'd find. I was curious to see how well they were looking. Especially since our county isn't in most criminal databases. The lack of appropriate disclosures upfront should've given it away...
I waited... days turned to weeks and nothing. Without a straight answer from the league, I finally called the provider and found it was never ran. Turns out while we had been coaching the kids for the past month & a half the forms had been sitting the President's desk. Baffled as to why, we spoke, and he described a time intensive process that fell to the bottom of the leadership's priority list.
In talking with the board, I was able to dispel the following the myths they and probably most people have:
1. The background check process is complex.
"Simplicity... is the last limit of experience and last effort of genius." - George Sand
Yes, adjudicating the results can be difficult at times however initiating a background check should be easy-peasy. Background screeners all have roughly the same tools at their disposal, the difference is knowing how & when to utilize them to create simple easy to follow processes that supports the end-user. If it's difficult, something's wrong.
2. Comprehensive background checks cost too much and take too long..
Yes, there are some counties that can take forever (looking at you San Luis Obispo) but on average comprehensive results should take 1-3 days. Take us for example, we currently average a little over a day. While the database searches, aka national/muti-state/etc, can complete in a matter of seconds they're notoriously incomplete. Even the FBI admits their own NCIC database is incomplete. As for cost, it’s not as much as you may think nor will any parent tell you to skimp on protecting their child (in our case, we had already paid for it ourselves).
3. It’s just volunteers, compliance concerns (disclosures, consumer copies, etc.) don't matter.
Compliance always matters. While the risk may be lower, there's always someone looking for a quick payday and most non-profits aren't financial able to avoid bankruptcy & disolution. Had something happened to one of the kids the local and national levels of the league could be held liable (see Doe vs. US Youth Soccer). Not to mention, there's probably an attorney willing to argue the local president's actions were reckless and caused harm, thus exposing him to liability as well.
4. We checked Megan's Law.
The Megan's Law site is a great resource but like any database has its flaws. It also only addresses registered sex offenders and as a parent I'm concerned about a lot more than that. Violence, drugs, and other poor decision-making scenarios should be reviewed as potentially disqualifying events.
5. We've never had a problem.
Do I really need to respond to this one?
So, moral of the story?
Parents - Get involved, ask questions, confirm your assumptions and never waiver on your expectation of safety for your kid. If you'd like some insight on background screening or pointers on how to question the league w/o ruffling feathers then click the button below to schedule a quick chat.
Leaders - Be cognizant of the true priorities, don't overstretch yourself and choose to work with companies that truly support you. If you're overwhelmed by the process then something is wrong... and we can help. If you're interested in a second opinion and/or reassurance that you're doing enough, we're happy to review your program as well. Just click the button below to schedule a time to talk.