Lawmakers in Oklahoma are seriously considering a bill that would make it legal to force volunteers who work with children to pay for their own background checks. Some of the background checks, which cost about $40, could be paid for by organizations, but the organizations would not be responsible for the payment and would have the option to pass the fee along to the volunteers. Currently, Oklahoma law does not make it mandatory for volunteers to undergo a background check, but this bill aims to change that as well.
Oklahoma State Rep. Joe Dorman, who initiated this bill, states that he wants to make sure that honest adult volunteers are not swayed from volunteering because of this charge, but also wants to make sure that quality adults with no criminal history are the ones who are mentoring Oklahoma’s children. He additionally states that these volunteers would only need to go through a background check one time and stressed that organizations have the choice to pay for the background check, so the fee may not even be applicable.
These background checks would cover any adult who volunteers to work in any capacity where they would be with a child overnight or someone who volunteers to be in any position where they would be with a child in a locker room.
Though some opponents of this bill believe that the biggest problem is the cost, others say that this bill is simply not enough and other measures should be put into place in order to protect the children in Oklahoma State. For example, it is stated that anyone who works with children, such as a coach, who may be with children overnight will have to have a background check, but other volunteers, who may be with children during the day would not have to go through a background check.
For those organizations who want to perform background checks on volunteers, third party companies offer dedicated programs like backgroundchecks.com’s selectCHECK tailored to volunteer screening. Screening packages can be customized for each organization’s standard, including the addition of the US OneSEARCH which will be able to instantly search criminal records across all fifty states and several US territories. This product also includes a search of sex offender registries, which is always a high priority for screening solutions targeted towards subjects working with children.
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