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Q&A: Frequency of Background Checks

How often should background checks be done for existing staff and volunteers?

We have volunteers and staff that have been with us for more than five years. They work with children and youth. How often should we renew a criminal background check for them?

How frequently to run background checks is a question that comes up frequently, however, there is no legal precedence that I am aware of on this issue. Most organizations have (or should have) policies that require an employee or volunteer to notify them of an arrest, but they do not always do this. Employers are slowly beginning to realize that a person hired today with a clear background report could commit a crime tomorrow. Therefore, a successful background screening program consists of ongoing background checks. It is certainly not practical or financially viable to do daily or weekly background checks. Organizations must define the frequency for themselves, taking into account the safety of children, members, visitors, staff and the ministry. Many law enforcement agencies conduct background checks every five years. The majority of churches I have worked with that conduct ongoing background checks require them to be renewed every two to five years.

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