Why Volunteering on Your Child’s Next Field Trip May Require a Background Check

Trips to local museums, farms, colleges, and area businesses are a rite of passage for students. These field trips are a welcome break from their daily school routine and give kids a chance to do some real world learning. Field trips are often a way to increase parent involvement as many parents are asked to volunteer as chaperones for these outings.

Are Field Trips a Thing of the Past?

Some people, though, are worried that field trips, and parent volunteerism, could be stunted with the rise in laws or regulations requiring volunteer background checks. In the last five years, school districts across the country have begun re-examining their safety protocols, with background checks at the forefront. Things like mass school shootings and the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal certainly contributed to the trend, but Melissa Sorenson, executive director of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners of which Active Screening is an accredited member, said in this article that screening was common for employers 30 years ago, but the popularity of background checks has risen significantly in the last 15 years.

Pennsylvania is the state widely cited as the litmus test for protecting children by requiring background checks. But Pennsylvania is also ground zero for the controversy surrounding background checks and volunteerism.

The issue, at least according to this article, is that extracurriculars may have to be canceled because too many parents need background checks and either:

  • can’t get them in time
  • can’t afford them
  • feel they’re an invasion of privacy
  • don’t know how to get one

The Time Factor

It’s true that background checks take time. But maybe not as much as some parents fear. Turnaround time varies. Some companies will promise ‘instant’ results, but like anything else that sounds too good to be true, you should use caution around these service providers. Due to the careful nature of background checks and the collection of important and delicate information, it’s important to know that most reliable background screening providers will turn results for you in two to three days. Active Screening conducts 80% of its criminal research in-house and still manages to complete the majority of background checks in 48 hours. Even better, Active Screening has a 97% customer retention rate so you know our clients are pleased with our services and our final results.

So… even if you only have a week’s notice to volunteer for your kindergartner’s field trip, you can still get your credentials in order with a complete background check.

The Money Factor

This is not so simple to answer. Pricing plans vary for lots of reasons – basic vs. in-depth checks, one-offs vs. bulk requests. The types of background reports that your school district requires may dictate how much money you need to spend.

You may find background checks provided for as little as $20 or as much as $100. The best thing you can do is do some research and talk with various providers like Active Screening who can tell you their pricing plans, but more importantly, explain why their services are best in class. Or, you can click here and request to see our pricing plans.

The Privacy Factor

By its very nature, a background check is an invasion of privacy. A screening company is verifying information to make sure it’s truthful and accurate and at the same time searching for past indecencies and indiscretions that may give an employer pause. It’s not that the screening agency is trying to dig up dirt, it’s just they have a responsibility to whoever has hired them to perform due diligence to prove you are who you say you are and that you’ve done what you say (or haven’t said) you’ve done.

What’s important to note in this discussion, however, is that it is completely, 100% legal for background screening firms to search for this information as long as compliance, privacy and hiring laws are followed. Most background screening companies are committed to operating at the highest standards and keeping your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) protected. Click here for a list of the most proactive firms (these are the ones like Active Screening who have taken a pledge to never off shore your PII).

And, when you think about the parents who will be chaperoning your own child on a field trip, wouldn’t you want to know that they passed a background check? By consenting to a check, that parent is in a way saying, “Protecting these children’s interests are more important than my own ego.”

The Knowledge Factor

You might think a simple Google search would turn up the results that you need. Yes, you will get a healthy dose of screening agencies, but not all screening agencies are created equal. We recommend finding an agency who is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). These screening agencies have gone through a rigorous approval process to earn this seal of approval and must have an impeccable track record in customer service, correct information, and tight turnaround time. Active Screening earned its accreditation by NAPBS. Also, do some research on your own to find out if any NAPBS-accredited agencies specialize in youth organization volunteer screening. Active Screening has customizable programs that can suit church groups, youth sports programs, non-profits, and virtually any other organization that relies on volunteers. Check out our online consultation service to see how we can help you.

Parents – we want to hear from you! How do you feel about the new screening regulations for volunteering? Will it change your mind about participating in field trips and other extracurricular activities? Leave us a comment – we might use it for a future blog post!

This entry was posted in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.