Every year more than 3
million reports of child abuse are made in the United States
involving more than 6 million children. And sadly, nearly 10
percent of people who try to work with children have had a criminal
April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. Now is the perfect
time to take a moment and look at what your ministry is doing to
protect its kids. Today let’s talk background checks. Here are five
things to keep in mind when looking at background check services
for your church.
- Determine the need.
I often hear, “Everyone knows everyone in our church, so checks
aren’t essential.” I know many churches that are like that, and I
love the fact that those churches seem to have a tight community
where everyone feels comfortable with each other. However, that
often amounts to putting on blinders…you never see it coming.
Statistics show that the majority of child abuse is caused by
someone known to the child or the organization. Thinking you know
everything about everyone, or even having a police officer attend
your church, is not enough! Background checks uncover information
you may not know about and give you and your parents peace of
- Determine your options.
There is no such thing as a database that contains
criminal report information for anyone you might want to check in
the United States. Because each state is different, some states
choose to report certain records while others do not. What does
that mean for you? It means you need to carefully select which
provider and report types fit your needs.It’s very important to choose a provider that has access to as much
of this information as possible. Just a simple state background
check may not be what you need, as a state background check only
shows records from that one state. Research shows that people with
a criminal record frequently move. A national database search is
essential to truly know a person’s background-which brings me to my
- Determine what kind of background check is best.
Be sure the criminal record information is owned and
maintained by the service provider. (Some purchase this information
second hand.) While there is no single national criminal database,
a good source provider pulls from multiple court registries to
offer comprehensive search options.
- Determine the cost.
I know, budgets are tight…but safety is not the area where
you want to cut corners. Reliable, trustworthy background checks
are not expensive. With Shepherd’s Watch,
checks start as low as $9 each, with no hidden or annual fees.
Background checks conducted by Shepherd’s Watch are very thorough,
as they’ve partnered with the leading background check
- Determine how often.
I know some churches have a policy of a one-and-done check
for volunteers. You get screened once when you sign up to help, and
you are good for life. However, if you only run a check once, you
won’t have the latest information. It’s important to rescreen your
staff and volunteers on a regular basis.
I encourage you to look into running background checks. Group’s Shepherd’s Watch
provides affordable background screening options so churches can be
more informed about the people they place in ministry positions
with children, youth, and vulnerable adults. Their screening
packages offer flat rate pricing, 30-day invoicing, and the first
two Basic Starter packages for free. It’s definitely worth a
What steps do you take to keep kids safe? Let us know using the
comment section below!