Youth Sports Background Checks - The Complete Guide

The Jersey Watch Team

Youth sports organizations are an important part of local communities. They provide the opportunity for children to learn the importance of teamwork, provide leadership opportunities, and strengthen relationships between kids, coaches, families, and businesses.

They can, however, be a target for potential predators.

Your team’s safety and well-being are non-negotiable. Constantly worrying about the safety of your team around other coaches or volunteers will detract from the positives for both parents and children. That’s why background checks are essential. These checks make sure that any individual involved with your team is vetted before they can work with children.

This post will run through all of the details on youth sports background checks to ensure your league’s safety every year.

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    An Overview Background Check Services for Youth Sports

    No matter if this is your the first year with a youth sports team or your 10th year coaching a youth team, background checks need to be done every year. It helps weed out anyone that can potentially pose a danger to children.

    If your organization does not currently run background checks you can start by creating a background check policy. A background check policy can set consistent expectations with your board, coaches, volunteers, and parents on the timing requirements, level of detail, and enforcement of background checks at your organization.

    Requiring annual background checks is beginning to become standard across all sports and age groups. Parents are beginning to expect that organizations run background checks on any adults that will interact with their child throughout the season.

    Running a background checks once per year gives you up-to-date results for each volunteer and can help catch any red flags from the previous 12-months.

    Most youth sports background checks run a local check on each volunteer. If the volunteer will be driving athletes to events, a driving record is often required for each volunteer. Depending on the type of background check your organization runs, you can expect a variety of useful information about the volunteer including:

    • Identity confirmation

    • Felony convictions

    • History as a sex offender

    • History of child abuse

    • Domestic violence history

    • Serious driving infractions, such as DUI or Reckless Driving

    • Sex offender registry

    • Invalid Social Security

    • Local and national criminal history

    It's important to remember that your organization should run background checks regularly on coaches and volunteers. Even if a coach passed a background check before a previous season, they should still be required to complete a new background check before each new season.

    Online Background Check Services

    Before the onset of sports team management software, background checks were tedious, expensive, and required manual verification. In many cases sports organizations had to work with the local police department to run screens on each volunteer.

    However, technology has made possible a number of different background screening services that provide fast and accurate data, empowering you to make more informed decisions and keep players safe.

    You should plan to run your background check process completely online. Volunteers and coaches should be able to fill out an online form to complete the background check, and results can be available to your organization online within a few days.

    Background Check software allows you to manage the entire background checks process online.

    Online background check providers like Checkr also regularly monitor legal trends and guidance to ensure that your process is fair and consistent.

    Other online background check providers like Goodhire the National Center for Safety Initiatives allow you to process background checks quickly and access results online.

    Essential Documents for Background Screening

    It’s exciting when you have parents and other community members who want to volunteer and be a part of your organization.

    However, before they’re able to join, there are essential documents that you should lay out to ensure potential candidates understand the criteria to become a volunteer. Make sure that you review these documents periodically to ensure complete compliance with the standards set by your board.

    Background Check Policy and Volunteer Code of Conduct

    Having a written background check policy and code of conduct is essential to the success of a youth sports organization. It can help remove any hiccups or miscommunications between members.

    Ensure your policy states that all members involved with the players need to go through the same screening process. Even if members of your organization know each other, they will have to go through the same screening process as new applicants. This demonstrates a solid and transparent commitment to the safety of your players and others involved.

    Volunteer Position Descriptions

    Ensure that you provide a job description of the roles and duties you expect of a volunteer. Precise clarification of responsibilities helps potential candidates:

    • Know what their responsibilities will be during the season

    • Understand when the season starts and ends

    • Get a feel for how many hours will be expected of them

    • Clarify ho they'll be reporting to (coaching director, board member, head coach, etc.)

    • Get a head start on any coaching certifications are required

    You should list your background check policy, code of conduct, and volunteer position descriptions on your website so that they are easy for potential volunteers and community members to access.

    Volunteer Application

    Any person that’s volunteering for a position must complete an application form before the season. A simple application can be completed online by the volunteer and can be listed alongside your player registration form.

    The volunteer application can include basic information like relevant coaching qualifications, areas of interest at your organization, and past volunteer experience.

    Within the application you should collect the volunteer's email address so they can be invited to complete their background check.

    Pricing of Youth Sports Background Checks

    Basic background checks include identity verification, sex offender check, and national criminal search and can cost as low as $10 per volunteer. These checks are most commonly run on youth sports volunteers prior to each season.

    Basic background checks can be run for as low as $10 per individual. More detailed background checks that include driving record can cost $50 or more.

    The pricing of state and local county searches can vary significantly. Some states charge premiums of up to $50 or more to view details of the individual's driving record and local criminal background check.

    You should consider these more detailed background checks if your volunteers will be driving players. You can learn more about your state and county's pricing by searching "{INSERT YOUR STATE} background check fees" or visit Checkr's guide to state and local fees.

    Running Background Checks With Jersey Watch

    Requiring that coaches and volunteers complete a background check is an important first step in enabling a safe environment for your sports organization. Managing background checks across your entire organization requires a few steps, but doesn't need to be a time consuming or expensive process.

    Jersey Watch can help lighten the load, and you can be up and running in less than 24 hours without long wait times and paperwork. Background checks start at just $10 per volunteer and include SSN Validation and National Criminal Search. For an additional fee, you can get a more comprehensive background check on an individual that includes their driving record and current county search.

    Volunteers can complete their screening in just a few minutes online and you access the results directly in your online account. Results are typically available less than 24 hours after the background check is completed.

    Additional Resources

    How to Create a Background Check Policy for Youth Sports

    4 Tips to Manage Youth Football Background Checks

    The Benefits of All-In-One Sports Team Management Software

    A Complete Youth Sports Registration Form Template

    How to Build a Website for a Youth Sports Program