Volunteers are widely utilized and are big contributors to many businesses. But while volunteers are obviously not on the payroll, they are often allowed the same access to people, records, and information as regular employees. This creates a dilemma for administrators. That is, how do they ensure that volunteers are not only safe to be in a facility but also safe to interact with those inside the facility and perhaps even have access to privileged and confidential information?
In reality, many organizations are opting to simply conduct a free, limited background check on employees. The theory behind this is that volunteers somehow present less of a threat than regular employees, and therefore, do not need to be thoroughly screened. A limited criminal history is better than no background check at all, but it is far from the best option available. Many issues arise from a limited background check, and often, information is missing from limited background checks.
An Expanded Criminal History is a much more comprehensive and thorough background check. It checks an individual's criminal history throughout all 50 states. The additional price may be the reason many organizations choose not to go with an Expanded Criminal History Check. While it only costs less than the price of a full tank of gas, many organizations still consider it too costly.
The decision really boils down to an organization’s priorities. Does safety, security, and prevention take precedence over saving a volunteer the additional $20 that a more thorough check will cost?
Many schools are now choosing to prioritize safety and security and are requiring that volunteers pass an Expanded Criminal History Check before being allowed to volunteer. Considering many recent national incidents, it is becoming more and more clear that cost cannot be the driving factor when protecting the lives of the innocent.
Our recommendation? Don’t jeopardize the safety of those within a facility by trying to save volunteers money. Treat volunteers just as you would any other employee and ensure they don’t pose any threats before allowing them access into your facility.