When youth sports programs make the proactive measure to protect its child participants from predators by using background checks, we can only applaud them. Background checks are the single most effective tool youth organizations can onboard to keep participants, volunteers, and employees safe, as well as safeguard themselves from litigation in the unlikely event that something terrible happens. It’s frightening, however, when we locate youth sports organizations who are trying to make all the right moves, but end up potentially penalizing themselves by not complying with federal law.

Take the Bend (Ore.) Unified Recreation Soccer League, a joint program between Bend Park & Recreation District and Bend FC Timbers, for example. Earlier this month the organization put out a call for adult volunteers as enrollment reached an all-time high with more than 1,600 kids playing on 130 teams. That’s a lot of soccer balls!!!

The soccer league emphasizes straightaway its commitment to keeping kids and adults safe. Here’s some information it provided in a recent news article:

Volunteer coaches are an essential part of the program, providing support with program logistics, coaching and mentoring youth. Volunteers must enjoy working with youth and be able to create a positive, encouraging recreational environment for all players.

Training and on-going support is provided. Volunteer coaches must attend a pre-season volunteer orientation/training. Safety is a top priority, so all coaches must complete a volunteer application and criminal history background check, as well as online concussion awareness training.

The problem arises when you click on the volunteer application page. Once you scroll down to the “Criminal History Background Check Authorization,” applicants are met with a slew of authorization and information content. This is a HUGE mistake. This consent form is not a stand-alone form. It’s part of a continuous and running page. This organization is out of compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If not corrected, this group could get sued or fined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or Federal Trade Commission.

According to FCRA law, a background check consent form must be a separate, stand-alone pre-authorization form that has no extraneous wording and is not combined with other application materials. Here’s what else a disclosure form needs to have:

  • It’s written
  • It’s asked for on a form separate from any other forms related to the candidate’s application for the job
  • It’s required if you will hire an outside agency (like Protect Youth Sports) to check out a candidate
  • Consent often includes the right to inquire about a candidate’s credit report (but this should be specifically stated)
  • There can be no waivers, additional wording, or other extra information on the form that can be confusing to applicants
  • The disclosure must provide specific information about the person’s rights to obtain information regarding the investigative report, including that they can view the file maintained by the consumer reporting agency, obtain a copy of the file by mail or in person, or obtain a summary of the report over the telephone.
  • It’s required to obtain extra information like school transcripts or military service records
  • An applicant does NOT have to consent to a background check. You are entitled to take them out of consideration if they do not consent.

As a nationally-accredited screening agency, Protect Youth Sports is always at the forefront of compliance issues and we stay ahead of the curve with our compliance forms. It’s important that our clients not only have access to these forms, but that our website visitors and potential customers have an opportunity to see what legal consent forms looks like. We believe in the necessity of background checks as a hiring tool, and we want to ensure employers and employees alike are educated about their necessity when they are in full compliance with the law. We have made our consent form templates completely transparent and available on our website. The template we offer is in full compliance with federal and state laws. It has been vetted by our FCRA attorney who is a veteran in the industry.

If your youth sports organization is going to make a concerted effort to protect your charges and your employees/volunteers, we want to help you do it the right way. Don’t end up with a red card. Score a goal with proper disclosure forms.

Think you might need help correcting your disclosure forms? Contact a Protect Youth Sports team member today!