Q&A: Retaining Records

Q: We are in the process of conducting background checks on our workers in children's ministry. We have worked hard to provide a safe and secure ministry for our children and follow the guidelines put forth in Reducing the Risk. We currently have applications on file for children's ministry volunteers for the last twenty years. How long do we need to keep these applications on file?

A: Here are several points to consider in answering this question.

  1. The key consideration in answering this question is this: If you use written applications for volunteers, and accumulate references and background checks on each volunteer, then these materials will constitute strong evidence that your church exercised reasonable care in the selection of volunteer workers in your children's programs, and this makes it less likely that you will be found liable for a volunteer's acts of child molestation on the basis of negligent selection.

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