Florida Lawmakers Urge Nonprofits to Check Backgrounds of Volunteers


According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 62 million people volunteer at least one day a year. Those volunteering to work with the elderly, children or the disabled persons are likely to be screened for “red flags” in their criminal history, such as convictions for drugs, violent crimes, sex crimes and child abuse. The ability to use national criminal history checks to screen out volunteers with certain types of criminal records has been made possible by the National Child Protection Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

In Florida, a state law requires schools to check volunteers against the sexual predator and offender database. A proposed law would also require youth sports organizations to check the backgrounds of coaches and referees. Some Florida volunteers who have been turned away from positions have hired a lawyer and plan to argue that the background checks violate their rights to privacy.

Checking someone’s background only costs few dollars. That seems like a small price to pay to be able to ensure parents and caregivers that their loved-ones will not be in the care of a person with a known or reported criminal history.

Read more about national laws and policies for criminal background checks on volunteers at Volunteers screened before working with children, elderly. </a