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Manage A Summer Youth Camp In New York? What Background Checks Should You Run On Workers?

If you manage a summer camp geared toward children or teens, you know that ensuring the reliability and good character of your staff members is paramount. Just as one bad apple ruins the bunch, one counselor with a criminal history who harms a child could subject you and your organization to civil liability (or even criminal charges if it's alleged you negligently permitted a convicted sex offender to have access to children). However, obtaining a thorough background check in New York can be tougher than it may seem. Read on to learn more about the background checks that are available in New York as well as how you may want to handle your screening and hiring process to avoid any potential liability and ensure that the children in your care have a fun and safe summer.  

What background checks are available in New York?

Although you may assume that each state has a standard criminal background check available to all who request it, the background checks available can vary depending both on the scope of the request and the identity (or tax status) of the person or entity making the request. For example, in New York, certain non-profit organizations geared toward children are not permitted access to the FBI's criminal database. Recent legislation is seeking to change this restriction, making the FBI's criminal database available to non-profit organizations who serve children. 

On the other hand, you will have access to state criminal conviction records, letting you know if any of your candidates have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense in New York State. You'll also be able to order a credit report to look for bankruptcies or a high rate of debt -- while these factors aren't often relevant when it comes to camp counselor positions, those whose jobs will involve collecting or distributing cash may need to be vetted in this manner. 

When during the hiring process should you conduct these background checks? 

Because it may not be cost-effective to run a criminal background check on all candidates for employment, you may want to narrow down your pool of applicants by conducting interviews first. 

Once you're satisfied that your prospective employee has the right attitude and skill set for your camp and are interested in extending a job offer, you'll want to have him or her sign a document authorizing you to order a criminal background and/or credit check. If you need this applicant to begin immediately, you may be able to enter into an employment contract with him or her that can automatically revoke employment if any criminal history is uncovered during the background screening process. 

For criminal record research, contact a company such as Access Road Island LLC.