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Parent's Guide to Background Screening

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Being a parent means protecting your child, but you can't always be there. Every day, you drop your child off at school or practice with the belief that those in charge are working to keep your kids safe, too. But what if the screening they are performing on teachers, volunteers, coaches and others with access to your child isn't keeping anyone safe?

There's no if. This happens every day in school districts, non-profits, sports leagues and churches across your state. As a parent, you have the right to know how these people, who have access to your children, are being background checked and the limitations and risks involved with some methods. So, what can you do?

Firstly, know the facts:

  1. Social Security numbers are not used to search for criminal background records. Records are found by using full name and DOB matches. How are SSNs useful? They are used to perform an Address History Trace (AHT), which reveals where a person has lived or worked and if they have any AKAs.
  2. There is no such thing as a "national" database. There is not database available, either held privately or by the FBI, that is a comprehensive listing of every criminal record in the U.S. Commercial databases cover about 50% of the U.S. (400 million plus records). The FBI database has approximately 40 million criminal records.
  3. Every good screen should include county level searches because they are the court of record and have the most complete information.
  4. State repositories like DPS do not collect all criminal records (i.e. Class C misdemeanors), and dispositions may also be missing.

Secondly, ask Questions:

  1. Find out who makes the decision on volunteer screening in your district (School Boards, Superintendents, HR Director and Parental Involvement Coordinators often all have some say so in the policy).
  2. Ask about the methodology used to screen.
  3. Educate stakeholders about what a reliable screen is and is not, insisting on the use of an Address History Trace and county level searches supplemented with a database.
  4. Ask how AKAs are determined or if they search them at all.
  5. Inquire about how sex offender registries are searched.
  6. If your district does use a third party to screen (not DPS or the FBI), ask who it is and find out their reputation.
  7. Recruit other parents to stand with you in a movement for better screening.
  8. Go social with your concerns - Tweet and post using #keepschoolssafe.
  9. Talk to stakeholders about alternate payment ideas, including self-pay by parents and volunteers or raising funds through school booster activities. You help raise funds for so many other things that don't impact your kids nearly as much.

At BIB we want to help you screen better because if it's worth doing, its worth doing right. If you want to learn more about how BIB can offer you a better way to background check, contact us to begin a journey for better screening! We're here for you, and we're committed to helping you protect what matters.