Why We Need Background Checks for Youth Sports Volunteers

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

March 20 2015

While after-school activities are an integral part of a child’s social development, parents are often wary of the individuals assigned to supervise their children on a regular basis.

With many youth activities, such as recreational sports leagues, the adults in charge are volunteers. Ensuring that these people are going to act as safe guardians for the children can be a difficult task, and some groups utilize background checks for youth sports volunteers to help verify a clean record.

However, volunteers are not formal employees and it can be difficult to obtain permission and funds to run formal background checks on them. Even so, the potential consequences of failing to run background checks far outweigh the minimal costs of conducting them. Before allowing an adult to work with children, it is vital that some sort of screening occur.

Certain national groups are already aware of this fact and have implemented strict guidelines on background checks already. For example, Little League background checks are required to be submitted to the national brand and updated annually.

These checks must be performed on any managers, coaches, volunteers, and hired workers who provide regular service to the league, the players, or the teams. Rather than relying on a quick internet search, the Little League requires a minimum of a photo ID and can also ask the volunteer to provide Social Security information to ensure that the check is thorough and current.

Outside of these large organizations, the rules vary. While there is no set law at a federal level, certain states require background checks to be run on specific types of volunteers. These rules often apply to state-sponsored groups or events involving children, the disabled or the elderly in order to protect these at-risk individuals, including background checks for youth sports.

Some insurance companies that cover these sorts of events can require screening for volunteers as well. Activities involving children, particularly sports, can be full of unplanned accidents, and having qualified volunteers with clean records helps limit potential issues.

If your child is involved in a sport that does not require a background checks  for youth sports volunteers, your child could be in danger. With one in three girls and one out of six boys having been subjected to some form of sexual abuse by age 18, screening a coach, event leader or volunteer who works closely with children is vital. Parents should request these checks be done before entrusting their children to others’ care.

It is imperative to request that at minimum a nationwide search containing applicable government sex offender registry data be run. If a volunteer shows up on this “sex offenders” list, he or she should not be allowed to mentor or supervise children of any age.

It is also important that a criminal background check be performed on potential volunteers. These checks can reveal any other issues not supplied by the sex offenders list, such as assault, battery, theft or drug offenses.

Multiple different types of programs are available over the internet, but these quick checks might not give the full or accurate results. Your child’s safety is vital, which is why it is best to trust a reputable background screening company with the process.

Some screening companies might not be equipped to handle a volunteer or nonprofit environment, so make sure that you or the organization you are working with selects a company that has experience screening volunteers.

Even with a limited budget, a child’s safety should be the top priority for any volunteer group or organization. Volunteers with clean backgrounds will give you peace of mind to ensure that your child has a safe and fun time.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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