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Spoons Across America (“Spoons”) is committed to the protection of all persons who are associated with Spoons including members, staff, volunteers and guests. In furtherance of this, Spoons may conduct criminal background checks of all employees and volunteers who have direct repetitive contact with children participating in our programs. Spoons will carry out this requirement in a fair, consistent and non-discriminatory manner, complying with applicable state and federal laws and guidelines.
It is the intent of this policy to establish certain guidelines wherein Spoons can seek to protect children involved in our programs by investigating the background of volunteers who have the potential of regular contact with participants. Knowing an individual’s criminal background can provide more certainty that people with a history of inappropriate behavior will not have access to the children and participants involved in our programs. Therefore, the objective of our background checks is to ensure the safety and well-being of participants and provide citizens with a peace of mind.
Background checks are conducted by Unique Background Solutions, which specializes in obtaining criminal histories, driving records, and credit reports. A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act is available upon request for reference purposes. At a minimum each individual background check shall include: (a) verification of the individual’s identity and legal aliases, (b) a national search of sex offender registries and (c) a national search of criminal records. Other data may also be obtained, based in part on volunteer duties or responsibilities. Background checks shall be conducted prior to volunteer service and renewed each twelve (12) months.
Background check findings shall be reviewed in a fair, impartial and confidential manner by an employee of Spoons, a member of Spoons’ Board of Trustees, or both. Because Spoons’ priority is the safety of children, staff, volunteers and guests, certain actions and convictions for certain crimes serve to automatically disqualify applicants for employment or volunteer service at Spoons in any position that involves working with children.
A person will be ineligible for employment or volunteer service if the person:
(1) refuses to consent to this background check,
(2) makes a false statement in connection with such background check,
(3) is registered, or required to be registered on any sex offender registry,
(4) or has been convicted within the past 5 years of a misdemeanor involving:
(a) physical assault or battery,
(b) drugs or controlled substances, or
(c) cruelty to animals.
With respect to convictions for crimes not listed above, any applicant with such a conviction shall be evaluated on an individual basis to determine whether they should be excluded from consideration based on the conviction. In so doing, Spoons shall consider the following factors:
- the nature and gravity of the offense;
- the time that has passed since the offense or completion of sentence;
- the nature of the job or volunteer opportunity sought or held;
- the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense or conduct;
- the number of offenses for which the individual was convicted;
- the age of the individual at the time of conviction or release;
- evidence that the individual performed the same type of work, post-conviction, with the same or a different employer with no known incidents of criminal conduct;
- the length and consistency of employment history before and after the offense or conduct;
- rehabilitation efforts, e.g. education and/or training;
- and, employment or character references and any other information regarding fitness for the particular position.
Spoons shall alert the applicant to the possibility of his or her exclusion due to past criminal conduct and provide the applicant an opportunity to submit an explanation. The final decision about volunteer service will be made by the Spoons employee or Spoons’ Board member that is managing the background check.
The privacy of the information obtained by Spoons through the background check will be respected. Your information is confidential and will only be shared with Spoons staff members who have a need to know. The service Spoons uses for gathering the information necessary to conduct a background check allows for the volunteer to go directly to a secure website and enter their information in without the need to submit a social security number to Spoons. In the case of a volunteer without internet access there is a form that can be filled out and sent in confidence to the service. The form will remain in secure HR files until the background check is completed when the form will be destroyed.
Spoons will absorb 100% of the costs associated with the background checks.
This policy may be amended at any time by majority vote of Spoons’ Board of Trustees.
Questions or comments about this policy can be directed to Spoons’ Director of Operations.