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5 Step Guide to Choose the Right Background Check Provider

Here is a five-step guide to choosing the right background check provider for your church’s children’s ministry.


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 conviction.

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 the information you may not know about and give you and your parents peace of mind.

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 next point…

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 $12 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 providers.

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.

For more great ideas like this in every issue, subscribe to Children’s Ministry Magazine today!


7 thoughts on “5 Step Guide to Choose the Right Background Check Provider

  1. Bronwyn Malcolm
    Bronwyn Malcolm

    Over here in New Zealand The Salvation Army have a safety policy for those who work/volunteer in children and youth ministries. People cannot help in these areas until they have done our 'Safe to Serve' programme which consists of doing a 'Safe to Serve' training (which is to be attended in person) complete a Police check, sign a code of conduct form, and sign either a volunteer or employment agreement where referees are required.

    We have discovered some opposition to these procedures, but mostly people understand that we have implemented this to protect our children/youth as well as the leaders/helpers that work with them.

    It is sad that society has become like this and that even in a safe place like a church that we have to take precautions, but I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping our young ones safe.

  2. Bronwyn Malcolm
    Bronwyn Malcolm

    Over here in New Zealand The Salvation Army have a safety policy for those who work/volunteer in children and youth ministries. People cannot help in these areas until they have done our 'Safe to Serve' programme which consists of doing a 'Safe to Serve' training (which is to be attended in person) complete a Police check, sign a code of conduct form, and sign either a volunteer or employment agreement where referees are required.

    We have discovered some opposition to these procedures, but mostly people understand that we have implemented this to protect our children/youth as well as the leaders/helpers that work with them.

    It is sad that society has become like this and that even in a safe place like a church that we have to take precautions, but I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping our young ones safe.

    • Avatar

      Unfortunately, I must agree with you in taking the necessary precautions to protect our most vulnerable in the house of worship. This is a sign of the times that Jesus spoke about regarding the disguised wolves among the sheep. At all costs, the sheep must be protected, as our Shepard will protect his church.

  3. Bronwyn Malcolm
    Bronwyn Malcolm

    Over here in New Zealand The Salvation Army have a safety policy for those who work/volunteer in children and youth ministries. People cannot help in these areas until they have done our 'Safe to Serve' programme which consists of doing a 'Safe to Serve' training (which is to be attended in person) complete a Police check, sign a code of conduct form, and sign either a volunteer or employment agreement where referees are required.

    We have discovered some opposition to these procedures, but mostly people understand that we have implemented this to protect our children/youth as well as the leaders/helpers that work with them.

    It is sad that society has become like this and that even in a safe place like a church that we have to take precautions, but I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping our young ones safe.

  4. Bronwyn Malcolm
    Bronwyn Malcolm

    Over here in New Zealand The Salvation Army have a safety policy for those who work/volunteer in children and youth ministries. People cannot help in these areas until they have done our 'Safe to Serve' programme which consists of doing a 'Safe to Serve' training (which is to be attended in person) complete a Police check, sign a code of conduct form, and sign either a volunteer or employment agreement where referees are required.

    We have discovered some opposition to these procedures, but mostly people understand that we have implemented this to protect our children/youth as well as the leaders/helpers that work with them.

    It is sad that society has become like this and that even in a safe place like a church that we have to take precautions, but I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping our young ones safe.

  5. Bronwyn Malcolm
    Bronwyn Malcolm

    Over here in New Zealand The Salvation Army have a safety policy for those who work/volunteer in children and youth ministries. People cannot help in these areas until they have done our 'Safe to Serve' programme which consists of doing a 'Safe to Serve' training (which is to be attended in person) complete a Police check, sign a code of conduct form, and sign either a volunteer or employment agreement where referees are required.

    We have discovered some opposition to these procedures, but mostly people understand that we have implemented this to protect our children/youth as well as the leaders/helpers that work with them.

    It is sad that society has become like this and that even in a safe place like a church that we have to take precautions, but I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping our young ones safe.

  6. Bronwyn Malcolm
    Bronwyn Malcolm

    Over here in New Zealand The Salvation Army have a safety policy for those who work/volunteer in children and youth ministries. People cannot help in these areas until they have done our 'Safe to Serve' programme which consists of doing a 'Safe to Serve' training (which is to be attended in person) complete a Police check, sign a code of conduct form, and sign either a volunteer or employment agreement where referees are required.

    We have discovered some opposition to these procedures, but mostly people understand that we have implemented this to protect our children/youth as well as the leaders/helpers that work with them.

    It is sad that society has become like this and that even in a safe place like a church that we have to take precautions, but I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to keeping our young ones safe.

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