Missouri Town Implements Youth Sports Background Checks for the First Time

By Michael Klazema on 9/23/2015
The town of Republic, Missouri is implementing a background check requirement for youth sports organizations for the first time. A new policy shift handed down by the town's Department of Parks and Recreation will mandate that most youth sports coaches in the area pass criminal background checks before working with kids.

The language of the policy applies only to individuals over the age of 18 who apply for youth sports coaching positions. Those under 18 technically won't have to clear the background check requirement. However, since many youth sports coaches are parents, the under 18 "loophole" probably won't end up making much of a difference. Beyond age, there are no exceptions to Republic's new background check requirement for youth sports volunteers.

From the description of the background checks that Republic will be running on youth sports volunteers, it sounds like the new policy will be a strong one. For the checks, adult volunteers will have to submit names and social security numbers. This information will then be run through both "national and local criminal databases," according to a report from KSPR 33, a local Missouri ABC affiliate. Each background check will also include a search of the national sex offender registry and an address history check. Whether or not Republic will run county background checks in other jurisdictions, based on the finding of each address history check, is not immediately clear.

Often, local youth sports screening policies like this are too limited in scope. Either they only look at criminal records on a county or state level, or they don't do the address history search. Such limited checks can miss big pieces of information if the subject has moved around a lot. For instance, if a town only ran state and county checks, but a volunteer committed a violent crime in another state, that offense would very likely go overlooked. Republic's background check policy, particularly the address history search, sounds like it will be a bit more comprehensive.

All volunteers will also need to submit to a new background check every two years. This repeat screening policy will help to weed out coaches who were convicted of criminal activity after passing their initial background checks.

According to the KSPR 33 report on the new background check requirements, the city of Republic has been at work on the policy for a while now. Indeed, the town has spent more than a year designing an ideal background check for its local youth sports programs. It's not difficult to see why. Republic is a major epicenter for youth sports, featuring 360 adult volunteers and hundreds more kids. The new background check policy will hopefully help to keep each young athlete safe.


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