Considering Background Checks for Volunteer Workers

How do you tell the difference between full-time and volunteer positions? In many cases, these two types may nearly be the same in terms of a position description – the only difference may be reflected in the pay. Some examples include full-time and volunteer firefighters and sports coaches. In both cases, the position requires interaction with the public, either in saving lives or giving advice to students. Previously, we’ve seen that schools, communities, and organizations want background checks for volunteer positions, as a former criminal may be volunteering to work with children. Although volunteer work isn’t off limits to former criminals, working with children, the elderly, or the disabled often is.

A recent news article discusses how a Nevada school district wants to apply background checks to all volunteer positions, but not necessarily for criminal history. A change of policy at Lyon County high schools might result in all volunteer coaches needing to receive a background check and giving a yearly review to all. Coaches who receive satisfactory reviews won’t need to reapply to the position for the upcoming year.

Nevertheless, giving background checks to coaches in Lyon County high school results not from criminal behavior but from a change of policy to hire those only 21 years of age and older. In previous years, a 20 year old had volunteered for the girls’ cheerleading team. Although, as mentioned, no criminal activity resulted, the school district is concerned about older men working with younger girls.

While some may say that the system has worked so far and no changes are needed, this Nevada school district is preparing itself for anything that might happen with volunteers. From assault and thefts to greater criminal charges, hiring a volunteer or full-time coach for a sports team puts many children at risk if you don’t know the adult’s background.