Blog

 
     

School Volunteer Rates Decline in Pinellas County

By Michael Klazema on 7/29/2013

According to Michelle Roberge, volunteer coordinator for Pinellas County schools, volunteers are the “heart and soul” of a good school. They provide many useful services like chaperoning on field trips and helping kids with homework. Unfortunately, in Pinellas County fewer and fewer parents and community members have been stepping up to volunteer at local schools. Officials are left wondering why that is and what to do about it.

The number of volunteers dropped nearly 23 percent over the past few years in Pinellas County, and the number of hours that the volunteers worked dropped around 28 percent. With the value of a volunteer’s time set at $18.85 according to 2011 research, Pinellas’ decline in volunteer participation translates into a loss equivalent to about $5.5 million since the 2010-2011 school year.

One possible reason behind the declining volunteer rates could be declining student enrollment. This sounds good in theory—fewer kids enrolled means fewer parents or other family members available to volunteer. However, enrollment has not decreased as much as volunteer rates have, so there must be some other factor at play.

Officials also point to the weak economy of the past few years as a possible cause for declining volunteer rates. Many people can no longer afford to take time off from work in order to volunteer, and they may not have the cash to spend on gas for commuting to the schools either. However, neighboring Hillsborough County has faced the same economic challenges but grown their volunteer rates by 29 percent since 2010-2011.

Another possibility is that the numbers may be skewed because the county relies on volunteers to self-report their own hours using a new online computer system. Officials suspect that the new system may have confused some volunteers and discouraged them from reporting their hours. Other volunteers may view reporting their hours as boastful and underestimate their time spent at school. This would explain the decline in hours worked, but not the decline in actual volunteers.

A big part of the reason that volunteer numbers have dropped could be Pinellas County schools’ volunteer background check policy. Many schools, child cares, camps, and other organizations use background checks such as US OneSEARCH from backgroundchecks.com on employees and volunteers alike in order to keep kids safe from known predators. US OneSEARCH compares an individual’s name and date of birth against a collection of over 450 million public criminal records taken from state and local databases across the nation. It also includes a search of Offender Registries.

Starting in 2012, Pinellas County began enforcing their volunteer background check policy more strictly. According to School Board Chairwoman Carol Cook, a misperception in the local community regarding the new enforcement measures may have contributed to a decline in volunteers. Many community members mistakenly believed that all volunteers would be subjected to a rigorous fingerprint-based background check from the FBI. However, in reality this check is only required for volunteers who will drive school vehicles or spend one-on-one time with kids. Other volunteers undergo a much simpler process. Cook also mentioned that the $50 fee for the background check might pose a problem for some low-income volunteers.

Ultimately, the decline in volunteerism in Pinellas County is probably not due to any one single factor, but to a combination of factors. Officials can try to combat the decline by spreading the word about the situation and making sure community members know that they can get financial aid to cover the cost of background checks. Counties should also be aware that background check providers like backgroundchecks.com provide much more affordable solutions for national checks, compared to the $50 charge they now face for the FBI check.

About backgroundchecks.com

Founded during the Internet boom in 1999 by an executive in both the staffing and information industry, backgroundchecks.com – a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – has been able to create a service that provides a blend of flexible screening programs that included instant, cost effective and comprehensive solutions. Our experience in database modeling of public records information has led Backgroundchecks.com to become the leader in the acquisition and delivery of public records information by harnessing the power and technology of the Internet. To learn more visit www.backgroundchecks.com.

Source: http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/pinellas-county-schools-perplexed-by-decline-in-volunteers/2131364

Author:


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • December 11 The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General criticized a migrant youth detention center on the border for not running the proper background checks. Federal law requires the facility to screen all employees with FBI fingerprint checks.
  • December 06 In a bid to combat money laundering and illicit funding sources for terrorists flowing through the country's real estate sector, Singapore's government now mandates background checks for buyers purchasing properties prior to development.
  • December 04 What is a reference check? How does it vary from a work history check? We explore these questions and others.
  • December 04 Chicago Public Schools has dismissed hundreds of employees, coaches, vendors, and volunteers based on background check findings. The district recently vowed to re-check the majority of its 68,000 employees after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed holes in its background check policies.
  • November 29 Striving to create a safer environment more conducive to productive training and leadership development, the Army has recently moved to adopt a uniform policy of background checks for certain roles. 
  • November 27 For hiring managers to verify the information provided on a resume, verification is essential.  Such is the purpose of employment history background checks.
  • November 27 California’s biggest public school district is waiving the cost of volunteer background checks. The move is meant to encourage more family - and community members to get involved with the school district.
  • November 22 Contractors play an important role in the workforce, delivering services to both individuals and organizations. Vetting contractors for suitability continues to be a challenge, as two recent articles prove.
  • November 21 When it comes to background and pre-employment checks, it can be instructive to look at the characteristics of the ten most massive U.S. employers.
  • November 21

    Verification checks are a powerful way to assess how truthful a job candidate has been on his or her application or resume. These checks can verify work history, education verification, professional licenses, and favorable personal qualities.