By Tom Wright
November 11, 2016
Creating a background screening program for a nonprofit organization can be rather difficult. Organizations are constantly walking on a tightrope, with budgeting on one side and a proper high due diligence background check on the other. However, developing a background check program that is a happy compromise between the two is not impossible.
One of the first things to consider is if your state has special policies or requirements for their statewide background screening program. Some states require the running of a statewide check, and many provide background screening services free for nonprofits. As an example, Michigan provides a service called iChat, which is a statewide criminal history report, free to nonprofits. These reports can provide a high level of due diligence while still maintaining your budget for other paid screenings.
Not All State Repositories Are Created Equal
Even a nonprofit that qualifies to receive a free statewide report should still consider running other background checks to help provide more detail. It’s important to note that criminal records and sex offender registries are not reported across state lines. State background check reports, including fingerprint based state reports, may be missing other criminal records as well.
This happens because the crimes are tried at the county level. Records can be missed because counties are not required to report all records, and that is especially true depending upon the type of offense.
Human error also plays a part. In the case of fingerprint background checks, some records such as misdemeanor drug offenses, public intoxication and disorderly conduct, can be missed simply because the crime is a ticket offense in that area and doesn’t require being fingerprinted.
A Proper Process Starts With A Residence History
The best way to prevent these criminal records from falling through the cracks is to not depend solely on fingerprint or state background checks. A county criminal history report based on residence history shows the highest level of due diligence possible. SELECTiON.COM® recommends utilizing a Social Security Number (SSN) Trace Report to identify counties where an applicant has previously lived.
The possible downside of this county level approach, is allocating too much of your budget on your background screening process. That is where the dilemma comes in. Do you run a high-level background screening report while your budget suffers, run a lower level report to save or few dollars, or worst of all no program at all?
The Answer Is Fairly Simple
No matter the size of the search process, every company needs to have a background screening program in place to mitigate your liability. However, always be certain to do your research before deciding on a specific report.
Many nonprofits decide to run a SSN Trace Report along with a National Criminal Database search as a supplement to their free statewide search, because it fits into their budget and they still get coverage in those outlying areas where criminal records on their applicants or volunteers may be hiding.
At SELECTiON.COM® our proprietary Search America® report is the largest National Criminal Database in the United States, with over 650 Million records from over 1,100 sources. It’s a multi-jurisdictional search of criminal record databases and Government Watch lists that includes correction records and Sex Offender registries from all 50 states. With this compiled database, we can help to keep your costs low and your coverage level high while providing a quality report.
Contact us today to see how SELECTiON.COM® can take your employment background check process to the next level.
NOTE: The contents of this article are not legal advice for your particular situation. You should neither act nor rely upon anything stated in this article without first consulting your own legal counsel.
Tom has been in the background screening industry for over 4 years, helping companies hire thousands qualified applicants through background checks.