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Three Reasons Why Every Church School Should Screen its Staff and Volunteers

Protect My Ministry takes seriously the need to vet anyone – ANYONE – who is hired by, or volunteers for, a faith-based organization. In particular, we feel strongly that employees and volunteers within schools who are sponsored by, or run on the campus of, a religious organization must maintain high standards of conducting thorough and routine background checks. When we send our children and loved ones to school, we want to believe that it’s a safe place but we need affirmation in the form of background checks that this is true.

A Well-Rounded Offense

Campus safety and security is not the only reason for vetting candidates, though. Think of how much financial information is stored at a church-run school. Think of how much money it takes to recruit and retain top talent. Think of the number of times a credit card is swiped or a check cashed on campus. A church school could be easy prey for a major financial security breach or an embarrassing oversight. And if word got out, which inevitably, it would, the damage to your private school, church and its community reputation would be incalculable.

Screening faculty, staff and students at faith-based schools is imperative, but it’s still often treated as an afterthought. This must change. We like to use this analogy: Background checks are like preventive medicine. They won’t stop a cancer from forming, but they will provide you the necessary information to make an informed decision.

Protect My Ministry understands the dilemma facing private, faith-based schools. You want to provide the best talent for your students and facilities for your educators and coaches, but raising tuition or consolidating schools aren’t viable, long-term solutions. You need to find smart, affordable, well-rounded solutions that mitigate any risk. That’s what we provide with Protect My Ministry’s comprehensive screening solutions for the education industry.Here’s three reasons why you should partner with a professional, accredited screening agency like Protect My Ministry for your background check needs.

Not all background checks are created equal. Simply running a name through a generic criminal record database does not suffice. Would you send your son or daughter to a school who did this? Commercialized data like this doesn’t offer any guarantees that the information is correct or without gaps. They are ripe with errors, calling certain criminals ‘cleared’ or labeling innocent people as ‘criminals,’ because there is nobody – literally, no body – double-checking these results. At Protect My Ministry, we have trained professionals who conduct 80% of our criminal records research in-house. Our verification system ensures accurate results and validates (or doesn’t) candidate-provided information. The other 20% of our criminal record searches are performed by boots-on-the-ground representatives who go beyond industry standards and actually head into courthouses to get the latest documents.

We get compliance. Our Protect My Ministry team knows every law and regulation about hiring and background screening so you don’t have to. The screening industry is rapid fire; changes happen all the time. Can you really expect a small human resources department at a local church to keep up with these changes? It would tax even the most robust HR departments. We know EEOC. We know FCRA. We know adverse action. We even have a paperless screening option called Ministry Mobilizer that will better protect your data and reduce your overall costs.  Outsourcing your background screening needs is not only the smartest thing you can do for your staff and students, it’s also the most time and cost efficient.

We know social media (and its limitations). So everyone has a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine these days, right? That should provide you everything you need to know about a person, right? Wrong. So wrong. In fact, social media profiles may provide you with too much information that can be labeled discriminatory if you’re not careful. Pictures show a person’s gender and race. Profile information may disclose sexual orientation. Comments can present religion. All things, according to EEOC laws, you can’t take into consideration when hiring someone. But how will you prove you didn’t refer to these things if things turn sour? Additionally, social media has plenty of limitations and doesn’t provide all the information you need about candidates or applicants. Pre-screening or recruiting candidates using social media, for the most part, is fine. Treating social media as a thorough and professional background check is not. You’ll be on the hook for negligence if you think it is and something bad happens.

We’d love to hear from you! Are you a church school who routinely conducts background checks? We’d like to know how you got started and what challenges you have overcome to fully incorporate screening into your hiring and volunteering processes. If you’re not quite on-board with screening yet, what are your concerns about implementing background checks? Let us know and we’ll see if we can diffuse your fears.