Proposal for Expansion of KidSafe Background Checks
VOTE TO BE TAKEN AT VYSA JUNE ANNUAL MEETING
Our KidSafe program is now several years old and in light of the rather high exposure our children have to the potential abuses by adults, the VYSA Risk Management Committee feels it is time to take the necessary steps to implement full background checks for our volunteers (volunteers being defined the same as we now define volunteers for KidSafe).
There is a cost involved, yet it has come down to a reasonably affordable one. So affordable that, the Committee feels we would be remiss in our not taking the step to propose full background checks to our membership.
The VYSA Board of Directors has not voted on this issue, preferring to put the decision in the hands of those that will bear the cost of the program. THIS PROPOSAL WILL BE VOTED ON AT THE JUNE ANNUAL MEETING. In light of the urgent nature of this proposal, an important workshop session was held at the VYSA Workshop at 8:30am on February 9th. The session was done by Fran Sepler of Sepler & Associates, an expert in this area. Written copies of the session can be obtained by emailing Fran Sepler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In keeping with our current program, each club and/or league would be responsible for running the background checks and maintaining records in accordance with the procedures stated below. The Committee has negotiated a preferred rate from which all clubs and leagues would benefit. The cost, based on the recommended phase-in below, is $1.00 per child per season.
The Committee is recommending a three-year contracting coinciding with a three-year phase-in of background checks. That is, each club or league would do background checks on one-sixth of their volunteers each season (one-third each year) until, after three years, all volunteers would be screened.
The procedures would be as follows:
- Clubs/leagues order FREE registration materials, which include the volunteer releases and brochures explaining the service (this would replace our current KidSafe brochure).
- Clubs/leagues conduct its usual registration and the volunteers complete the release forms (it is recommended that 1/3 of the volunteer base complete forms).
- Clubs/leagues submit the volunteer information via a secure Web Site.
- Clubs/leagues mail the vendor a copy of the release forms and a check equal to $1.00 per child based on the number of players per season (clubs will use the player registration count from their VYSA data disk for each season).
- KidSafe volunteers for clubs/leagues are notified by email as a verification of the receipt of the aforesaid documentation.
- Volunteers are screened over a 7 year period. The scope of this search is for criminal history records from any criminal justice agency in any or all federal, state and county jurisdictions in the United States.
- In the event of a "find" KidSafe volunteers are notified by email to contact the security department of the vendor performing the screening, by phone. No information is sent by email.
- Screens generally take 7-10 business days from the receipt of documentation.
- KidSafe coordinators are mailed ID cards for all screened volunteers. These ID cards are distributed to the volunteers and are proof that a background check has been performed. Should the volunteer move, this card is evidence that a background check has been performed.
The vendor is VolGuard, Inc., a subsidiary of Credit Control, Inc. Credit Control has been in business since 1987 performing background checks for numerous organizations. References have been checked.
For additional information, please refer to the Insurance/Risk Management tab on the VYSA website and go to KidSafe FAQs.
The proposal before the membership will read:
VYSA will contract with VolGuard, Inc. for a three-year period to perform background checks on volunteers (volunteers as defined by VYSA) for VYSA members. VYSA members agree to pay a cost of $1 per registered player per season during the contract period and comply per VYSA rules and regulations. VYSA may place clubs that do not comply in bad standing. Exemptions apply only to clubs that are performing comparable background checks, prior to the signing of the contract. This shall begin with the Fall 2002 season.
Chairman, Risk Management
The recent mailing of the VYSA proposal on background checks has produced a number of questions. Here is a list of questions with responses. Our goal is to continue to add to this list as more questions come in.
- Will there be a hold-harmless and indemnification agreement with the vendor to protect us should they make a mistake?
Yes, there will be such a clause.
- Do we have insurance coverage for this type of allegation?
VYSA's general liability insurance coverage provides for a limit of $1,000,000 per person and $2,000,000 annual aggregate coverage for abuse and molestation. Abuse and molestation is defined as sexual abuse, molestation or exploitation arising from negligent hiring, training and supervision practices. Mental anguish and emotional distress are included if they are a direct result of physical contact during an act of sex abuse, molestation or exploitation or directly results from the claimant actually witnessing an act of sex abuse, molestation or exploitation, whether or not there is a physical contact between the "claimant" and the "perpetrator." In addition, VYSA and all clubs and leagues have Directors and Officers Liability coverage for a limit of $6,000,000 annual aggregate that protects our "boards" against actual or alleged acts, errors, omissions, misstatements, neglect or breach of duty in the discharge of the duties in the capacity as Insureds.
- Background checks are only one part of a comprehensive program to protect the children. In addition to the background check there does need to be additional rules of conduct for all adults who come into contact with the players and not just the coaches.
This is absolutely true. At this time risk management is working on the background check piece. Risk management will take up a more comprehensive program in the future.
- Background checks and other such measures can be reassuring to a point but not failsafe. They also are expensive ad may not be completely accurate.
Nothing is failsafe nor completely accurate. This is just one piece of a larger puzzle that is evolving from the simple KidSafe questionnaire. Background checks are not inexpensive, but they are cost-effective as outlined in the proposal.
- What if someone other than the coach is left in charge of the children? Is the club not tacitly assuring by virtue of the background check that the children are safe?
This is an issue that would be up to a court of law to determine. Do we tacitly assure this now based on the simple KidSafe questionnaire?
- The board needs to thoroughly examine the issue of child protection before issuing a policy. A policy stating that at no time should there be less than two parents at any club activity where children are present could be a starting point.
The background check is just one part of the larger risk management puzzle. A larger risk management policy may include such a suggestion or even make it a requirement. However, the background check and the risk management technique stated above (as well as other risk management tools) stand separately and need not be rolled up into one.
- A club writes: if we had 1,500 players we would be required to pay $1,500 per season to conduct background checks for 20 coaches (120 coaches divided by the 6 season roll-out plan) which would be a cost of $75 per coach
The research into the number of volunteers has indicated that the volunteer to player ratio is 15/100. Thus, this club that states only 120 coaches appears to be stating that there are, on average, 12.5 players per team (which is reasonable) but that each team has only one coach and no assistant coaches, no travel team managers, no paid trainer, no board of directors and no committees, all of whom should now be completing KidSafe questionnaires and, thus, be subject to background checks. This brings this club's total volunteers closer to 250 or 260 and the cost of the check to about $35.00.
- Another problem with this proposal is that the program would become mandatory and for all Clubs. If we are not satisfied with the services of this vendor, we do not have a choice of opting out and finding our own vendor. There is also no comment on future cost, which means the vendor could raise their price without our knowledge and the Club would be forced to incur these additional expenses.
The contract currently negotiated is for a three-year period to ensure that all appropriate volunteers are screened. The cost of the contract is fixed for the three-year period. After three years if Volguard were to present VYSA with a renewal price that is unreasonable, VYSA can elect not to renew it and the charge to clubs terminated. As for not being satisfied with services, like any contract, they must perform or be subject to termination (performance is part of the contract). Remember, they are using a national database and are not reinventing the wheel with respect to how they secure background checks. What they are providing us is a secure, simple, convenient way to input and receive data.
- Would someone please define volunteer so that it doesn't cover every single adult who does anything for the team
The current KidSafe program states specifically that coaches, assistant coaches, travel team managers, paid coaches/trainers, members of boards of directors (including committee members) are "volunteers" under the KidSafe program. Anyone else that may be alone with kids is subject to completing a KidSafe form (and would be subject to a background check). We exclude parents that run car pools but would include, possibly, a regularly designated parent that a team may have to stay with kids if a coach has to leave practice.
- Exactly what will be checked? The form you sent out mentioned "full background checks." As an ex-paramedic/firefighter I've had full background checks and they are very intrusive and highly personal. Is Volguard just checking criminal records pertaining to child abuse or violent crime? Or any criminal conviction, regardless relevancy?
This is a national criminal background check, not constrained to child abuse or violent crime.
- What will VYSA do if someone does have a criminal record, but it has nothing to do with kids or violence?
The current KidSafe brochure is very clear on this and would continue in the same fashion. The form states that "pending arrest or closed arrest is not an automatic bar to consideration of my application but it is the intent of VYSA or any of its members to deny a position to any person who has been convicted of sexual abuse, physical abuse or exploitation of any minor." We have already handled situations where responses on the KidSafe form have been in "gray" areas.
- What are the legal limitations of Volguard with reference to the information collected? Who has access to the information on the forms and the information collected?
Contractually, Volguard is limited to the performing background checks based on the information we provide. There are 2-3 employees assigned to our account that will have access to the information collected. These employees have had background checks performed on them.
- Can we look at a sample form that we would fill out to be checked? What information is required?
We will try to get a sample form up on the website, but, in short, it simply asks for name, date of birth, ss# and address.
- Does the $1 per child per season cover all those who need checks, or just the 1/6 of the coaches?
As mentioned above, all those who need checks per KidSafe are included in the $1 per player/per season cost.
- Why Volguard? Why the gradual phase-in? Why not do everyone at once? If we're really concerned, waiting makes no sense.
Volguard is a nationally know organization that does background checks for a number of large organizations and has the capability to perform them and provide VYSA with the secure, simple internet site to transact our business. The phase-in allows clubs a cost effective way to perform the screening. Input is quick and painless. Turnaround is quick and private. Clubs may accelerate the screening process if they like.
- Will the league be implementing this, or will the clubs be responsible?
As with KidSafe now, clubs are the organizations that are responsible for and perform the program requirements. If leagues (or VYSA for that matter) have volunteers, employees, etc. that meet the screening criteria but are not involved in club activities, then the league (or state) would be responsible for that background check. The cost of that check has yet to be determined since the basis of cost, players, does not apply.