Three Ways that Schools Can Implement Parent Volunteer Background Checks Without Reducing Volunteer Sign Ups

Leagues of school principals, teachers, and parents are on the fence about the background checks and screening policies being mandated by school districts and state laws. Many find themselves asking, “is it worth it?” while others stringently demand such practices, alienating parents and reducing peripheral involvement in the process. Our children deserve to be protected by the potential threat of “wolves in volunteers’ clothing,” but it is of cardinal importance that the parents who genuinely want to be engaged in the development of their child’s success aren’t deterred by confusing rules, wasted resources, and lack of support from the education system itself. Parents are of paramount importance in any student’s life, and they need to be informed and encouraged to participate. Here are three great ways that schools can implement parent volunteer background checks, without reducing the number of sign ups:

1. Make the state laws for background checks clear to all parents and teachers at the beginning of the school year

Many parents who enroll their children at school are inevitably new to the system. They may have just moved from another state or country, or they might be raising their first child through the ranks of the American public school system. Whatever the case, laws and regulations regarding background checks and other health exams vary widely from state to state, so make sure your school posts flyers and other freely available information about volunteering before you start a recruitment program. Better yet, prepare handouts for the students that outline their parent’s responsibilities and involvement at the beginning of the school year. Educating parents about background checks and administering them before school is in full swing will minimize conflict and bureaucratic hassles later on.2. Get seasoned parent volunteers involved early in background check advocacy

Parents who regularly volunteer at their child’s school(s) know how the system works. They’ve cut enough construction paper to fold an army of cranes, read so many books that their thoughts consist of fruit and animals, and steeped themselves in learning environments enough that they know when something’s out of place. These parents needn’t be exempted from screening policies; however, they’re a fantastic resource when it comes to recruiting and training new volunteers, so make sure they fully understand the reasons behind background checks and other screening tests. They’ll appreciate the school’s initiative to ensure student safety, and together you’ll foster an open forum for children and parents to learn about and discuss the changing nature of public school safety. Increased awareness is often the first step toward safety.

3. Systematize volunteer sign ups well in advance of the event

Ask any teacher: it’s always a bonus when utilities, instruments, lesson plans, and other teaching resources are completed ahead of time. The same goes for parent volunteering. Instead of calling parents the day before they’re needed, use volunteer scheduling software like Parent Booker as a hub for all your school’s event coordination needs. For a monthly payment of just $60 per school, parents and teachers can communicate via comprehensive scheduling software whose simple-to-use interface belies its powerful functionality. Parents can easily view an entire year’s worth of volunteer opportunities and sign up with a single click, and the program auto-sorts by class and grade. In addition to organizing volunteer sign ups, Parent Booker also offers unprecedented features that optimize student safety and maximize fundraising potential: faculty and parent coordinators can choose to turn certain requirements on or off, limiting the volunteer sign ups to parents who have passed background screening and Tuberculosis tests; by tracking and reporting parents’ volunteer hours, schools can apply to companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility budgets for additional fiscal donations or grants. Private schools seeking to close a revenue gap can raise tuition fees in any number of ways, but many offer discounts to parents who meet service hour benchmarks, whose efforts can be securely and accurately tracked by software like Parent Booker. There’s a veritable world of benefits to volunteering at schools and, with the right tools and procedures in place, your child or student will start to reap the rewards of parental involvement in no time at all.

Of course, the most important aspects of parent volunteering, besides having a great attitude and being accessible, revolve around tending to the safety of children and making sure other volunteers are doing the same. Volunteering doesn’t mean it’s time for you to kick back with a paper after tossing a couple soccer balls on the field; it means making a conscious effort to engage yourself in their social and academic development. By doing so, you’ll set a positive example for kids and adults alike that encourages fun and promotes learning. It will make all the difference when unfamiliar volunteers offer their help: just let them know that after a harmless background check, they’ll be welcomed into the foreground of early education with open arms.

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