Ensuring that our congregations are places of sanctuary requires that we do our "due diligence" by checking into the backgrounds and references of Pastors, staff and volunteers who work with our children. youth and vulnerable adults.
Staff: The New England Conference completes the criminal records and background checks for clergy before they are appointed to congregations. For other staff members, a criminal records background check is a must. In addition, during the interview process, the applicant should provide the names and contact information of three people who serve as references for the applicant.
Volunteers: In addition to having the criminal background check completed before the volunteer begins serving children, youth or vulnerable adults, it is good policy to institute a "6 month rule." Having volunteers wait to serve for six months following their entry into a congregation, gives leaders time to get to know them, to observe both their gifts and their vulnerable places. In all cases, newer volunteers to a congregation should be paired with a well-trusted and well-known member with whom they will serve.
Background Checks: Each state in the Conference offers criminal background checking services to non-profits. There is often a fee per criminal record request. Also, most states have requirements for how the information is to be stored upon receipt, who is able to view that information and guidelines as to how these reports are to be used. You will find each states web page information on criminal records at the links below.
Background checks related to the Safe Sanctuaries policy may be obtained through Trusted Employees, a corporate partner of Church Mutual, insurance provider for the New England Conference.
Trusted Employees provides a comprehensive range of applicant screening and verification services that are scalable, customizable, and can be integrated with applicant tracking systems. Trusted Employees’ “Invite Applicant” tool is an online process for candidates to supply their information and electronically sign the consent form.
To become a Trusted Employee customer, please utilize the following link: https://www.trustedemployees.com/Signup/ClientSignupWelcome.cfm?ClientSelected=ChurchMutual
Once you set up a user name and password, access your account through this website: https://trustedemployees.com/Login.cfm
For more information about Trusted Employees, (888) 389-4026 or email AccountManagement@trustedemployees.com.
For instructions on how to set up a new account for your church, click here: setting up a new account. For direct assistance with setting up accounts or compliance issues, contact Julie Welch, Trusted Employees national sales executive, at (813) 837-9265 or firstname.lastname@example.org
IMPORTANT: Before conducting a background check, a disclosure release form must be signed by the applicant and the applicant must be provided with a document detailing rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Click the link above to find both documents. They are also available under the “Resources” tab when you log in to your Trusted Employees account.
Trusted Employees also offers “Apply Now” Online Background Authorization where applicants can fill out the disclosure form online through “Invite Applicant.” Information is available under the “Tools” tab on the Trusted Employees website.
As both insureds and as Christians we have the obligation to exercise "due diligence." A criminal background check provides information that can help us protect one another, but also can be a means of grace as we remember that we are called to forgive "seventy x seven." There are some offenses that are so egregious that we cannot permit a potential volunteer's interaction with a particular population. Obviously, we are not going to put someone convicted of child abuse or molestation into a classroom of toddler or young teens. And it might not be the best idea to put a person convicted of bank fraud in charge of counting the offering plate.
Here are some questions that can help you make a decision as to what is best in a particular situation.
What most often comes back on a criminal record is substance abuse. If it is an older charge, there most likely isn't any problem. If you see a long list of convictions that continue to the present, this is won't be the person you want driving on the Youth Mission trip. Use your common sense and document what you do and why. Staple that document to the criminal background report and file it.
It can be difficult to tell someone that you have concerns about their behavior or record and are, therefore, limiting their access to children, youth or vulnerable adults. Make certain you have a face-to-face conversation with the individual that explains your reasoning. Include your Pastor in this conversation. If you are the Pastor, make certain you have a lay leader from the congregation with you. Following the conversation, make notes again to document the content of the conversation and staple it to the criminal record report. Documentation is ALWAYS helpful should later questions come up.