Hire Image CEO Christine Cunneen Urges Background Screening Of Summer Camp Workers

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Christine Cunneen, CEO of Hire Image LLC and board member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners explains that background checks are a simple and inexpensive way to protect not only children but also co-workers at camps and other organizations. Summer camps are regulated by the states in which they do business and, while nearly all have a licensing requirement, less than half require background checks.

Twenty-nine U.S. states do not require background checks of camp workers. The safety of both children and adults are at risk.

Christine Cunneen, CEO of Hire Image LLC, a nationwide background screening and drug testing company, warns that camps and other youth-serving organizations may not be as safe as parents think.

For nearly 11 million U.S. children and their parents, camp is part of the summer ritual. From a day camp at the local YMCA to an overnight camp in the woods, parents leave their kids believing they are in a safe environment. But, Cunneen says, most parents are surprised to learn that background checks are not a routine part of the camp employee screening process.

Jarring headlines about sex offenders and pedophiles in the ranks of camp counselors and youth leaders are stark reminders that the dangers kids face from adults are a reality.

“Background checks are a simple and inexpensive way to protect not only the children but also the co-workers at camps and other organizations. It really should be part of the due diligence process but it isn't always,” explains Cunneen, who serves on the board of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners to help shape industry guidelines and develop legislation. “A background check should be required for anyone who is working with children.”

Summer camps are regulated by the states in which they do business and, while nearly all have a licensing requirement, less than half require background checks. Many youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and Little League Baseball have taken this issue seriously and perform background checks on staff and volunteers. Florida recently passed legislation requiring background checks of camp staff and volunteers and there have been efforts to draft legislation on the national level.

“Background checks are becoming an issue of concern among legislators,” Cunneen adds, “but legislators don't understand our industry and the laws they are coming up with don’t always provide for a proper search. They assume an FBI fingerprint screening or a local police criminal check is enough, but it’s not. It’s only the beginning.”

According to Cunneen, most states that require checks do not require a thorough background search procedure. The American Camp Association cites that many of the 1.2 million adults who work at summer camps in the U.S. each year have not been completely screened.

Cunneen recommends an Address and Social Security Number Trace be conducted on all applicants. This search reveals address history the applicant might not otherwise relate - especially if they have criminal history in a previous location. Because criminal records are filed by name and date of birth, and not by Social Security Number, revealing other names the applicant might have gone by is vital to a criminal search. In addition to doing a nationwide criminal database search and checking the sex offender registries, Hire Image LLC also recommends searching County criminal records anywhere an individual has lived in the last seven years.

“It really comes down to education,” she notes. “A lot of people feel they're doing their due diligence by going down to the local police station or by doing a Google search but those are very limited.”

The cost is a surprise to many. A professional search can usually be done for about the price of one video game, and only takes 36 to 48 hours to obtain a complete report. Cunneen advises employers to hire professional background screeners instead of attempting background searches on their own using public information Internet searches. “Professional screeners have access to more information, and are aware of federal and state regulations regarding which criminal information can be a factor in the employee screening process. Unfortunately, criminals and wrong-doers often know the system better than anybody and know how to manipulate it,” adds Cunneen. “Working with a professional can keep you one step ahead and can help keep people safe.”

For more information on background screening services and the recommended search package for youth-serving organizations, visit the background screening for youth organizations link at Hire Image’s website, or contact Hire Image LLC at 401-490-2202 (RI) or (954) 942-1893 (FL).

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Hire Image LLC is a provider of pre-employment background screening, drug testing and verification services. The company works with employers throughout the U.S. in various industries including non-profits, universities, small businesses, Call Centers, and Fortune 500 companies. Clients use Hire Image’s Web-based system to securely request searches, track report status and archive completed background reports. Information obtained on past criminal history, fraudulent social security numbers, untruthful resumes, sex offender records, workers compensation claims, falsified applications, drug arrests, traffic violations, bankruptcy, liens and judgments, terrorist activity, and more helps minimize the inherent risk associated with the hiring process. Hire Image is located at 6 Alcazar Avenue in Johnston, RI 02919 (Phone 401-490-2202; Fax 401-490-2232) and 440 East Sample Road, Suite 204 in Pompano Beach, FL 33064 (Phone 954-942-1893; Fax 954-301-0700); http://www.hireimage.com

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Lauren McCarthy
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