Safety First: Background Checks for VBS Volunteers
Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a great opportunity for churches to share the gospel with children. It is also a prime event for community outreach too. Kids are excited to attend, parents are looking forward to being kid-free, and church leaders are inspired to make a difference. One of the goals of VBS is to create a safe environment where kids can learn about Jesus and have fun! That’s why it’s important to do volunteer screening and background checks prior to starting your summer kids’ program.
You might think that VBS background checks are excessive for a week-long event. But we want to encourage you to think again. It may be true that you know your volunteers, but do you know their history or what they have done recently? Child protection is something that needs to be taken very seriously. Even though VBS is a one-time event, it is crucial to make plans to keep kids safe.
Below you’ll find a few reasons why your church should use VBS background checks. We’ll also discuss who you should perform the background checks on, and how to take additional security measures to make sure that your VBS is nothing but fun and gospel-focused.
Quality Background Checks Are Necessary
As a church leader, it is your job to protect all children attending your church’s summer Bible program, and that means looking into all concerning areas. This includes potential volunteers. In addition to protecting the children, you want to protect your church too. Quality backgrounds checks are one important step you can take to keep everyone in your ministry safe.
Background Checks for Ministry
Be sure to find a VBS background check that includes the most up-to-date information so you can ensure everyone is safe. Clover partners with Protect My Ministry to provide quality and thorough background checks. Serving over 35,000 ministries across the nation, Protect My Ministry knows how to keep churches safe. They are one of the only background check companies that will do a free “re-verification” of records from the national criminal database for a volunteer. They will also do a “true” 50 state search on sexual offenders.
Find Quality Volunteers
Finally, the reason behind conducting a VBS background check is not only to ensure you don’t have child predators in your midst but also to provide safe, capable individuals to serve in your church. Background checks will help verify your volunteers are there for the right reasons. A thorough background screening will search criminal databases, motor vehicle records, and other key information for protecting your people. You can never be too safe when it comes to children and volunteers.
Minister to Parents
As a parent, there’s no better feeling than knowing that your child is safe. By providing VBS background checks, you can put parents’ minds at ease. Not only will this help you have more children attend your VBS, but it will open a door to minister to parents too. If they know that their children are safe, they are more likely to attend your church again, such as on Sunday mornings.
Make Sure All VBS Volunteers Have Background Checks
Background checks should be performed on any individual who may come in contact with children. Whether they are teaching kids or cleaning up spills, all VBS volunteers should be screened.
Some churches skimp on background checks and don’t feel it’s necessary to screen all volunteers for VBS. They may review their teachers and other leaders but might forget people like photographers or janitors. Even people working “in the background” should have a background check because they could still interact with the children.
Take Additional Protective Steps
Another way you can protect your children and church in addition to a VBS background check is by hiring a local police officer to be onsite during VBS hours. Officers who are trained in child-related legal cases are often the best choices. They have the ability to recognize if anything is out of the norm, which will provide an extra level of protection for those attending your VBS. If you have an officer who attends your church, simply reach out and ask them to help. If they aren’t able, they will likely know somebody who can.
Additional types of security can include identifying specific individuals who are trained to notice anything suspicious or unusual. If your church has a security team, these individuals can stand at high traffic points, as well as places where people enter and exit.
Child Check-in and Check-Out
You can also create a smooth and strategic check-in and check-out process for each child. Creating a safe way for parents or guardians to pick up their children will help eliminate the threat of someone dangerous picking up a child who is not their own.
The goal of creating a safe environment through VBS background checks and additional security is to provide an atmosphere where parents and guardians can drop off their children without worry. These added security measures minimize the threats that could occur in your church.
Things to Keep in Mind
You’ll need to get each volunteer’s permission before running a background check. To submit a background check for VBS, you’ll need the volunteer’s full legal name (first, middle, and last), social security number, and full date of birth. All parties need to consent to a background check before one is completed. If the volunteer is uneasy about conducting a background check, this may be a red flag for you to consider before they volunteer in your children’s ministry.
Most VBS background checks are returned within 48 hours but some can take a few days. Make sure to plan and gather all volunteers’ background checks in enough time to have a successful summer program. If a background check returns questionable results, you will want enough time to find additional volunteers to fill that need.
Frequency of Background Checks
If you have conducted background checks on your VBS volunteers in the past, it is still a good idea to run a new screening. Background checks should be conducted annually in case of any new or additional findings. So, every summer you host a Vacation Bible School, run (or rerun) background checks on all volunteers.
VBS is a great opportunity to connect with your community. Planning ahead, equipping your staff, and conducting VBS background checks can alleviate negative outcomes. Clover and Protect My Ministry are here to serve your ministry to provide a safe environment. Connect with us today by calling (805) 527-8900 to learn more!