Know the background of those
interacting with your clients


Screen prospective employees and volunteers.


A common denominator for social service organizations is the desire to improve the lives of their clients. No organization wants to be involved in an incident that causes harm to a client. One of the most important steps an organization can take to protect their clients – and the organization – is to implement high-quality pre-employment and pre-volunteer screening procedures.

If you operate a social service agency, such as community outreach, elder services, disabled services or youth services, multiple layers of screening services are available and can be an invaluable advantage to your clients and organization.

Establish a screening policy

An employee screening policy guides staff members who are tasked with hiring, provides the tools necessary to enlist superior volunteers and employees and decreases the risk of litigation.

Consider including the following in your screening policy:

  • Ensure consistent standards apply to everyone
  • Detail the methods used to screen prospective employees and volunteers
  • Designate who is responsible for employment screening decisions

Keys to an effective policy

Application – Use an application for both employees and volunteers.

  • Consider including the following in your employee application:
    • Work history and explanations for any gaps – make sure the experience matches the specific needs of your organization
    • Credentials – review all listed credentials
    • References – it is crucial to contact references
  • Consider including the following in your volunteer application:
    • Current employment information, if available; retired persons may not have current employment information
    • Volunteer history
    • References

In-person Interviews – The value of meeting a person and looking them in the eyes is often overlooked in this fast-paced world.

  • Ask questions specific to the applicant’s experience in the industry
  • Inquire as to what motivates the applicant
  • Probe into any gaps in employment

Background Checks – Consider whether background checks are appropriate for the position being filled.  Be certain that your background check procedures comply with state and federal laws. Consult with your organization’s legal counsel to ensure compliance – additional guidance on background checks is available from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The following is some key information that may be available through background checks and screening procedures:

  • Criminal records
  • Sexual offender records
  • Social Security number verification
  • Education verification
  • Motor vehicle records
  • Drug screening
  • Professional licensing verification

By establishing and following an effective screening policy, your social service agency can protect your clients and your organization’s reputation.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Neither The Cincinnati Insurance Company nor its affiliates or representatives offer legal advice. Consult with your attorney about your specific situation.

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