Finding staff and volunteers you can trust to work with children includes additional steps beyond interviewing and checking references. Additional screening, such as conducting criminal and sexual offense background checks, can help your Youth-Serving Organization (YSO) maintain a high standard of safety for all new and future hires.
At minimum, your Screening and Hiring should include:
Written application and signed Statement of Suitability. Utilize written applications to assess candidates’ fit with your organization. Include a Statement of Suitability that asks them to confirm with their signature that all answers on the application are true, no information was withheld, and that there is nothing in their background that would prevent them from working safely with children.
Comprehensive personal interview and reference checks. Use interviews and reference checks to screen each applicant for their appropriateness to work with children and their ability to follow the policies at your organization. Utilize references to learn more about the applicant and obtain verification of their work history.
State criminal records check and national criminal background checks at hire and periodically (recommended). Employ background checks for both in-state and national records. The Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) is used in Massachusetts. Not all criminal offenses disqualify applicants from working with children. Consult the appropriate agencies and resources to determine what is acceptable for staff and volunteers at your organization.
State sexual offender registry check and national sexual offense background checks at hire and periodically (recommended). Employ checks to both state and national sex-offender registries. The National Sex-Offender Public Website (NSOPW) may provide additional detail from other states not contained in a Sexual Offender Registry Information (SORI) check.
Consider national and state child abuse registry checks. Ensure applicants are not on national or state abuse registries. In Massachusetts, this check will require a “Department of Children and Families (DCF) History Consent and Acknowledgement Form” and a signature from each applicant.
Utilizing the application process can help your organization maintain a high standard of safety through gathering information on potential staff and volunteers. While background checks may not identify everyone at risk, integrating this as part of your hiring and screening process at your YSO sets the tone of expectation that child safety is a priority for your organization.
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