Background check requests should include a letter which clarifies that a criminal history is not an automatic disqualification for working with youth, but rather is the opening of conversation about the meaning of the offense and its relationship to youth ministry (e.g. convictions for civil disobedience). (See Appendix for sample letter]).
Background investigations may produce reports of felony and misdemeanor convictions. Some of those convictions may be those that the UUA considers to be social justice issues. Other convictions may be for ones that are not relevant because they occurred a long time ago or pose little or no threat to youth.
The UUA acknowledges the fact that there is pervasive racism, homophobia, and transphobia in the United States’ criminal justice system. People of color are disproportionately convicted of felonies, and homosexuality or claiming a transgender identity has itself been historically considered a sex offense in many states. To help deal with these facts, when the UUA receives criminal history information that raises concerns, experts may be called in when necessary.
Any criminal or child welfare history disclosed to the UUA in the volunteer application process will remain strictly confidential. UUA staff will not share the information without the express written authorization of the applicant.
Background Checks—Technical Information
Background checks should search the national criminal database, the database of the state of the adult’s residence’s, and sex offender registries. UUA staff uses either the background service provided by Human Resources or the basic service provided by Church Mutual’s recommended background check partner.
We recommend congregations use Church Mutual’s recommended background check partner.