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The Kids Sports Network now offers youth sports leagues an opportunity to conduct Criminal Background Checks on their volunteers that are easier to administer, more comprehensive, faster and probably less expensive than any you've conducted before.

What you need to know

  1. What is a background check?
  2. Why are they important?
  3. Who do you recommend to conduct background checks?
  4. How are they conducted?
  5. How much do background checks cost?
  6. How accurate and thorough are the checks?
  7. What must a league do to conduct background checks?
  8. What if my organization does not yet have the 501c(3) status?
  9. How can my league participate?

1. What is a background check?

A criminal background check (CBC) is a manual or data base search of state and/or local government files to determine if the individual applying to volunteer has had a past criminal conviction. A CBC must be sufficiently comprehensive to ensure that all convictions are revealed. For example, a check of records in only one state will likely not reveal a conviction that occurred in another state where the individual previously lived. And, a check only for child molestation convictions will not uncover a burglary or assault conviction.

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2. Why are they important?

Parents enroll their children in a league fully expecting that they will be safe from harm. Conducting a CBC is one of several actions that youth administrators must take to protect their participants from abuse. Others include training and certifying their volunteers, setting guidelines on parent behavior and direct supervision of the league or program being conducted.

To be effective, a CBC must be conducted before the volunteer is permitted to associate with children and must be done annually on all volunteers regardless of their position or the number of years they have been involved in the league.

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3. Who do you recommend to conduct background checks?

After reviewing several companies, the Kids Sports Network has elected to use LexisNexis to offer CBC's to youth sports associations. LexisNexis accesses over 150 million conviction records in 46 states and, in most cases, updates its files monthly. Little League Baseball, Pop Warner Football and several other national organizations use LexisNexis.

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4. How are they conducted?

Leagues conduct their checks on line through the LexisNexis web page and receive results in a matter of seconds rather than days or weeks. There is no special software to purchase or training to attend. The cost of these checks is considerably less than what most leagues are currently paying for a less comprehensive, more complicated system through other companies.

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5. How much do background checks cost?

To have access to the LexisNexis criminal background check process through KSN you will be charged a one time set up fee of $50 that is payable to KSN via check or credit card. This fee helps defray the cost of establishing your access to LexisNexis and the time involved in providing you guidance on how to get started. Once that fee is paid, KSN will send you more detailed instructions on how to acquire the promotional code that will set your price for the basic National Criminal File search at $1.75 and waive any other LexisNexis registration fees. (Please note that this is a special rate that is available only through KSN. If you deal directly with LexisNexis the rate will be significantly higher.)

When you register your account with LexisNexis, you will be asked to give them credit card information. Your credit card will be charged once each month for all CBCs run the previous 30 days. You can also request to be billed monthly for these fees. More detailed information is provided when you set up your LexisNexis account.

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6. How accurate and thorough are the checks?

Background checks are only as accurate as the criminal records. For example, if the criminal court records in a county contain inaccurate or incomplete information on an individual, then the information that you receive on that individual will also be inaccurate. LexisNexis will ask for addresses and other information on the person you are running a check on to aid in the identification process and to help ensure that any conviction records on that individual are accurate. That said, you will sometimes receive conviction records that will require you to ask additional questions of the individual to verify information and ensure that the record actually pertains to that person. For this reason, LexisNexis now requires a social security number when running a check. You will not be able to run a check without it.

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7. What must a league do to conduct background checks?

There are several actions a league should take before conducting background checks. (1) You should be a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) association (if not, read answer No. 8 below). You will be required to send organizational proof (Articles of Incorporation, 501(c)(3) certificate from IRS or state, and if applicable, Articles of Partnership and Professional License to LexisNexis in order to establish your account. (2) You must have written permission from volunteers to have a background check run on them. You will be asked to verify this permission on screen when you run a check on an individual. (3) Your league must have policies in place on how to handle negative responses on individuals. For example, is a volunteer disqualified from coaching because he/she had a felony conviction ten years ago? Will you disqualify a volunteer if he/she had a recent DWI conviction? (4) Leagues should have a policy that limits access to derogatory information and defines procedures for destroying the information after a period of time. For more detailed guidance on this subject, please contact KSN.

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8. What if my organization does not have the 501(c)(3) status?

You can use two of these three other documents:

Business License
Federal or state tax ID certificate or W9 certificate
Declaration page from a commercial insurance policy

You still must have written permission from volunteers to have a background check run on them. Your league must have policies in place on how to handle negative responses on individuals and leagues should have a policy that limits access to derogatory information and defines procedures for destroying the information after a period of time. For more detailed guidance on this subject, please contact KSN (210) 654-4707 email CBC info. Once you register to do background check with KSN, we can supply you a sample policy and sample forms but it will still be your responsibility to create your own forms and policy.

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9. How can my league participate?

To determine if LexisNexis is right for your league, we encourage you to review their website especially the National Criminal File Sample Report. After you have done that, if you are still interested in establishing an account through KSN, please call (210) 654-4707 or email CBC info.

Please be aware that all background check companies are now required to obtain considerably more information from organizations in order to comply with recently enacted federal laws designed to protect individual rights. Because of the additional paperwork, it could take as long as two weeks to begin running checks depending on how quickly you complete the set-up and registration process. Part of this process now requires a site visit to verify that your organization is adhering to all necessary security measures required by LexisNexis. The most important of those is that you have a securely locked area (office, file cabinet, etc) for any background checks as well as all required consent/authorization paperwork needed prior to running any actual background checks.

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