The Importance of Creating a Background Rescreening Policy

Posted Thursday, June 14th, 2018 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

The Importance of Creating a Background Rescreening Policy

According to the Sterling Volunteers “Volunteer Screening Trends and Best Practices Report: 2018”, 60% of organizations are more optimistic about the future of volunteers at their organizations, increasing the need for volunteer background checks. In fact, 20% of the survey respondents stated they intend to screen more volunteers this year than in 2017. Every organization has their own approach, preferences and requirements for conducting background checks, however many are looking for the most comprehensive ways to create safe environments.

The “Screening Trends and Best Practices” report found that just under half (47.17%) of responding organizations conduct background checks on all volunteers before they come on board. One-third conduct background checks some of the time; 18% do not conduct background checks. Among sectors, 31% of social or human services nonprofits and 17% of healthcare-related nonprofits conduct background checks all the time. An important finding of the report is that almost half of the organizations screen all volunteers regardless of their position or how often they volunteer. Those working with vulnerable populations (children, elderly, and the disabled) are most likely to be screened (54.43% of organizations screen this group), whereas short-term, one-time and infrequent volunteers are least likely to be screened—only 11.76% of organizations screen this group.

Why Do Organizations Screen Volunteers?

Each organization has a different goal when it comes to background screening, but most have similar reasons for conducting background checks on volunteers: protecting constituents and vulnerable populations, provide a safe and secure environment and protect the organization’s reputation. A lot of time and money can be invested into a volunteer screening program, so you want to make sure that you have the right volunteer to match your mission. But what if something were to happen post-screening after the volunteer started participating in events that could impact their participation in the program as well as the reputation of your organization?

Why Renewal Screening is Important

The fact that a volunteer clears a background check does not guarantee that the volunteer will keep a clean record forever. Just because they had a clean criminal record when they started as a volunteer does not guarantee that it will always stay that way. A criminal record check depicts a moment in time and becomes outdated quickly. The solution to closing this gap is through monthly updates and regular rescreening.

Re-screening or renewal screening is the process of performing background checks on current volunteers. There is always a risk that a current volunteer could engage in illegal behavior even if they don’t have a previous criminal record, which then would not only affect the individuals involved but the organization’s reputation as well. Those working directly with vulnerable populations should be rescreened more frequently than those in administrative or back-office positions. The “Screening Trends and Best Practices” Report detailed that overall all renewal screening has increased in every volunteer category and doubled among short-term volunteer positions since our 2017 report.

Volunteer organizations will need to decide what screening checks should be re-run on their volunteers. The most popular background checks to be re-run are criminal records, sex offender and motor vehicle checks. Organizations should have a rescreening policy for volunteers in place based on the volunteer position and/or the amount of time the volunteer has been with the organization. This should be listed in the organization’s background screening policy. The process should be transparent and openly communicated to all volunteers and staff.

For more insights and best practices for the volunteer screening industry, download “Volunteer Screening Trends & Best Practices Report 2018”. You can also watch our webinar, “Volunteer Screening 2018: Research Results & Insights” which discusses the top trends from the report on-demand at any time.

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