Types Of Background Checks On Volunteers
John M. Sadler, JD, CIC
Member, USA Baseball Medical & Safety Advisory Committee
November 2008

Every reasonable effort should be made to protect youth sports participants from adults in the program who have a history of unacceptable criminal activity. It is estimated that 9.6% of all volunteers screened have a criminal record and 2.9% of would be coaches have had convictions involving sex offenses, violence, or other felonies. (Source: Southeastern Security Consultants, Inc.) For starters, volunteer screening including background checks is a critical part of an effective abuse & molestation risk management plan.

Background checks on volunteers, (as well as paid staff), especially those with repeated access to youth players, are an important part of the volunteer screening program in youth sports. All volunteers should be notified prior to acceptance of their duties that they will be subject to a favorable background check and must provide their consent via a Volunteer Application. Such notification should also explain the steps that are being taken to safeguard their privacy and rights should any unfavorable information be found. Only one league administrator should be in charge of collecting and reviewing Volunteer Applications, receiving the results of the background checks, and making the disqualification decisions in order to reduce the chances of a release of confidential information. An unfavorable background check should disqualify a volunteer from participation if it falls within a sports organization's predetermined, written disqualification criteria.

The term "background check" represents a broad category of different types of checks that range from the most basic Sexual Offender Registries to the more complicated FBI 10 Point Fingerprint Check. Background checks from different sources vary by the following criteria: