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How Long Should We Keep Consent Forms and Screening Records?

How Long Should We Keep Consent Forms and Screening Records?

Q: Our insurance company says we only have to keep parental consent forms for church activities and outings for three years, but someone else told us the forms need to be kept until the child turns 18 years of age, for sexual abuse purposes. Which is true? Is there specific wording that should be included in the permission forms for this purpose? We do background checks and give safety and abuse awareness classes to all our children's workers and teen workers. Does that alone release us from responsibility since we have done all that is reasonable to protect our children?

A: If a church is sued for a case of child molestation that occurred during an off-site, overnight activity, the fact that the parents of the victim signed a parental consent form allowing their child to attend the event would be of little, if any, evidentiary value in a lawsuit.

Parental consent forms, in general, should be retained until a minor child reaches age 18 PLUS the applicable statute of limitations for personal injury claims under state law.

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Posted:
October 2, 2013

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Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments

Matt Branaugh

February 12, 2015  11:34am

Trudy, MCC--Rich Hammar addresses the question of whether to repeat background checks in his analysis of Louise Freeh's report from the Penn State abuse scandal: http://www.churchlawandtax.com/cltr/2012/november-december/new-best-practic es-for-protecting-children.html (Please see Item #5, in which Rich indicates it is best to benchmark your church's practices with other local youth-serving organizations and agencies, including the local public school system, and to heed Freeh's recommendation of repeating background checks at least every five years). Best, Matt

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MCC

October 08, 2014  9:06am

I am interested in the answer to Trudy's question: how frequently should we repeat background checks, etc.? We've had some workers for 10 years or more and they have not been re-screened, and I believe we need to develop a policy on this issue.

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TRUDY A MENCKE

July 16, 2014  12:13pm

I appreciate this article. Although I have kept all records since we started screening our volunteers, I was not certain as to how long to keep these records, and was considering shredding them. We screen our volunteers as a part of our eligibility requirements to serve in our children's program. All volunteers must be members for at least six month. It brings up a question for me. Currently, we do screenings every three years. Is that excessive? How often should we repeat the background screening for each volunteer who has previously been screened (and served) in the program? What is a reasonable amount of time to followup with another screening, if at all?

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