Are Background Checks a Hindrance in Volunteering?

How hard is it to become a volunteer these days? Not as easy as it used to be. For volunteering at schools and nonprofits, background checks are recommended in order to weed out criminals who would come in contact with children, the elderly, or the disabled. At the same time, background checks are expensive and take several weeks to complete – and the results may even have inaccuracies. As a result, nonprofits in Central Florida want to make background checks for volunteers more efficient.

According to Central Florida News 13, nonprofits in Central Florida require security clearance, but the procedures take six to eight weeks, and each costs $50. Every time a volunteer wants to help out at a nonprofit, he or she needs to submit to a background check. At the same time, volunteers are helpful, if not necessary, for these organizations to continue. About these issues, Heart of Florida United Way President Robert Brown stated:

“In a time when the resources in the community are shorter than ever in agencies, volunteerism is a part of the solution. We can’t pay more people, but we can use more good hearted people to conduct some of the services that we provide.”

Sharing background check results amongst all area nonprofits would streamline the volunteering process and significantly cut down on costs for all agencies. At the moment, all nonprofits in the area have until mid November to come up with a plan.

The accuracy of background checks in the area has also come into question recently. Writer Mark Woods talks about his experience in volunteering for a school and requiring to submit to a background check. Knowing he had no criminal history, he had no objections. The results, however, showed he had a criminal history, and Woods went to investigate the background check company who dug up his history. As he found out, the company, in not being able to obtain criminal records based on his social security number in some areas, just looked for a close match – and didn’t verify the information. While Woods was able to get his background check cleaned up through the company and went on to volunteer, such an error can happen to anyone.