How to Create A Background Check Policy for Your Youth Sports Program
Every youth sports organization needs a clear and effective background check policy in place. It’s an important way to protect your athletes, create a safe environment and ensure compliance.
That said, creating a background check policy can be a daunting task. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. This article provides a step-by-step guide, offering insights into the essential components that should be included in your policy.
To make your task even easier, we’ve also prepared a downloadable background check policy template. This can serve as a starting point as you customize and adapt your policy to meet the needs of your youth sports program.
Keep reading to find out:
- Why you need a background check policy
- What your background check policy should include
- How to create and implement your policy
- Your downloadable background check template
What Is the Purpose of a Background Check Policy?
To make your program safe for young athletes, you want to minimize the chances that individuals with a history of misconduct or criminal activities will be involved in your organization.
While criminal background checks are by no means foolproof, they can help you see if someone has been officially charged or convicted in the past. And since the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, this is an important piece of information to have when making decisions about who should work with young athletes.
Criminal screenings aren’t the only type of background check, though. For example, you might want to conduct identity checks or see someone’s driving record before appointing them as a staff member or volunteer.
All of these inquiries are defined by your background check policy. It provides guidelines about how applicants are screened and what to do with the results.
This policy is crucial because it ensures everyone is treated the same way. It makes your background check process clear, keeps it consistent and ensures it complies with all relevant laws.
What Should Be Included in a Background Check Policy?
The idea of writing a policy from scratch can be daunting. However, once you’re clear about the legal requirements in your state, it’s simply a matter of laying down the details.
Let’s look at the fundamental things to include in your background check policy.
Statement of purpose
Typically, your background check policy will begin with a short statement explaining its purpose. This doesn’t have to be more than a line or two; you just want to convey that the policy seeks to protect participating children by investigating the background of any adults who will have contact with them during the program.
Who to run background checks on
Your first action step is to define the scope of your background checks. Who needs to be screened?
Ideally, you should screen any adult who will interact or have unmonitored contact with minors. You can define this in your policy and spell out who this may include, such as coaches, team managers, referees, board members, volunteers, staff members, drivers, independent contractors, etc.
How often to run them
Since background checks aren’t a one-and-done deal, you need to define how frequently you’ll conduct them.
For example, you might say that background checks will be conducted on all applicable adults at least once every two calendar years or at the start of each new season.
What type of checks you’ll include
Background checks can include several different searches and screenings. Your policy needs to outline which of these your organization will conduct and on whom.
For example, your policy may state that all adults in contact with minors — staff and volunteers — will be subject to identity checks and criminal background checks, with additional DMV checks for anyone in a role that requires driving.
>Read more about 6 essential types of background checks here.
Procedure for conducting checks
In your policy, include a section outlining the procedure you’ll follow for background screenings. Background check policies vary in what they include and the level of detail, but here are some things to consider:
- What information is required from the candidate and what consent forms they will need to sign
- Any relevant deadlines (e.g., you might state that consent forms need to be returned so many weeks prior to the start of the season)
- What method or service provider is used to conduct the background checks. This may also inform other parts of the procedure. For example, if you use a compliance management platform like Ankored, those undergoing checks may be sent an email invite which allows them to add their information and consent directly in the system. This makes the process easier and keeps everything in one place.
- Which role in your organization (e.g., program director, youth sports administrator) is responsible for carrying out background checks
- What will happen if a disqualifying offense turns up. For example, what kind of investigation will take place, whether the candidate will have an opportunity to explain the circumstances of the crime, whether they can appeal, etc.
- A list of what the disqualifying offenses are.
- Processes around privacy and confidentiality. Incorrect handling of information is a common compliance issue in youth sports, so be clear about how records will be stored, who can access them and what purpose they’ll be used for
Your policy can include a brief section stating that it needs to be reviewed regularly and outlining how often reviews will take place. This is also a good place to include a signature option for your staff to acknowledge they have read and agree to your background check policy.
How To Create & Implement a Background Check Policy
When putting together your background check policy, it’s important to involve board members or other decision-makers to ensure everyone agrees to the details. Once everyone approves the policy, the next step is to make it public and ensure it gets communicated to all parents, staff, volunteers and coaches at the start of every new season.
Make the policy available via your website and distribute it electronically and at registration times.
Finally, review the background check policy each year with your board. Check with your state and governing body for any new requirements before a new season begins and update the policy as required.
>Download our background check policy for youth sports template. You can adapt and add to this policy based on your organizational requirements.
Play It Safe
Background checks are an important step in minimizing risk, staying compliant and fostering a safe sporting environment for young athletes.
Running checks consistently and effectively starts with your background check policy, so ensure you have a clear and robust one in place. We hope you find the resources above helpful in navigating the process of creating and implementing your policy.
Remember that there are tools you can use to make background checks easier. With Ankored, you can easily manage compliance in one place, from background checks to abuse prevention training — no paper needed.
Find out how Ankored can make youth sports compliance easy for you.