Volunteer Background Investigations

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Prepared by: Doug McRainey Director, PRCR

Adopted by Council:  12/13/2012

Supersedes: 9/11/2007

Effective: 12/13/2012 

PURPOSE:  The Town of Cary desires to promote the health and safety of children, the disabled, the elderly and those with specialized recreation needs (“vulnerable participants”)  who participate in the Town’s recreational programs by taking reasonable steps to see that volunteers who work or have contact with vulnerable participants are subject to background checks.    Such background checks will provide a means to verify the accuracy of information provided by the volunteer or prospective volunteer (jointly ‘volunteer’) and to promote the safety and security of participants in Town programs who may be vulnerable due to age or infirmity. 

PROCEDURE:  Background checks will be conducted for volunteers who fill or are being considered to fill “sensitive positions”.  “Sensitive positions” are those positions that provide services to vulnerable participants.   Any volunteer who refuses to consent to a background check will not be considered for a sensitive position with the town. A town volunteer is an individual who serves the town primarily because they choose to do so without the promise of compensation or expectation of pay.  

The type of information that may be collected as part of a background check includes, but is not limited to, criminal conviction record checks, sex offender registry checks, social security verification and if applicable reference checks (‘background check’). The level of background check should correspond to the following risk factors:

(1) The amount of time the volunteer filling the sensitive position will spend in direct contact with vulnerable participants.

(2) The amount of time the volunteer filling the position will spend unsupervised by Town staff.

(3) The nature of contact with vulnerable participants.

(4) The level of physical risk to vulnerable participants.

(5) Other similar factors relating to working with vulnerable participants.

Pre-volunteer investigations and information obtained in pre-volunteer investigations must be reasonable and appropriate for the position for which the volunteer is applying, taking into consideration the nature of the offense, when it occurred and the candidates conduct since the offense. The results of a background check will be used as a basis for denying a prospective volunteer the opportunity to serve in a sensitive position.

The Town will ensure that all information attained from the background check process will only be used as part of the volunteer review process and kept confidential as required or permitted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the North Carolina Public Records Act. 

If a volunteer is found to have withheld information with the intent to mislead or is found to have falsified information pertaining to convictions, residences, education, employment history, or any information deemed pertinent to the volunteer position, the volunteer will be disqualified from further consideration for any volunteer position with the Town.  If such withholding or falsification of information is discovered after a volunteer begins services for the Town, the volunteer’s services will be terminated.  

Sensitive Positions Volunteer positions that are deemed to be sensitive positions for which background checks will be conducted include, without limitation:Youth Athletic Coaches

                        Youth and Senior Program Instructors

                        Summer Day Camp volunteer

                        Applause! Cary Youth Theatre volunteers

                        Specialized Recreation Programs volunteers

                        Other Designated Departmental Activities and Programs

Volunteers currently filling any position that is identified as a “sensitive position,” shall be advised of the necessity for a background check.  All current and prospective volunteer applicants of designated sensitive positions shall be subject to a background check. 

The background checks must be consistent with the guidelines set forth by the laws requiring written authorization for and proper storage and disposition of covered information derived from such reports, and must be in compliance with all federal and state statutes, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These checks must be consistent with the guidelines set forth by the laws requiring organizations to obtain a candidate’s written authorization before obtaining a criminal background report. 

Disqualifying factors as identified within this policy will be used as a means to accept or deny volunteer services.  Upon receipt of information alerting the Town to the existence of a disqualifying factor, the prospective volunteer will be notified and has the option through due process to appeal. 

No information discovered as a result of a background check will be used to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, veteran’s status or sexual orientation.

Frequency of Background Investigations

Background investigations will be conducted for all applicants for volunteer sensitive positions and will be conducted annually for any volunteers who are in sensitive positions. Only one background check is necessary per year regardless of the number of different sensitive positions a volunteer may fill during any year. The initial authorization release signed by the volunteer applicant specifically states that the release shall remain in effect until revoked in writing. 

Disqualifying Factors

A person will be disqualified and prohibited from serving as a volunteer if the person has been found guilty of any of the following crimes as identified below. Guilty means that a person was found guilty following a trial, entered a guilty plea, entered a no contest plea accompanied by a court finding of guilty, regardless of whether there was an adjudication of guilt (conviction) or a withholding of guilt. This recommendation does not apply if criminal charges resulted in acquittal, Nolle Prosse, or dismissal.

Any applicant who has been charged with any of the disqualifying offenses will not be allowed to volunteer until disposition of the charge.  A serving volunteer who has been charged with any of the disqualifying offenses will have their service suspended until disposition of the charge.



All Sex Offenses – Regardless of the amount of time since offense. 

Examples include: child molestation, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sodomy, prostitution, solicitation, indecent exposure, etc.


All Felony Violence – Regardless of the amount of time since offense.

Examples include: murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, kidnapping, robbery, aggravated burglary, child endangerment etc.

All Felony offenses other than violence or sex within the past 10 years. 

Examples includedrug offenses, theft, embezzlement, fraud, etc. 


All misdemeanor violence involving a minor (unless the applicant was themselves a minor) – regardless of the amount of time since the offense.

All misdemeanor drug & alcohol offenses involving a minor (unless the applicant was themselves a minor) – regardless of the amount of time since the offense.

All other misdemeanor violence offenses within the past 7 years 

Examples include: simple assault, battery, domestic violence, hit and run, etc.

All misdemeanor drug & alcohol offenses within the past 5 years or more than one offense in the past 10 years regardless of whether the offense involved a minor. 

Examples include: driving under the influence, simple drug possession, drunk and disorderly, public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia, etc.  

Any other felony or misdemeanor within the past 5 years that would be considered a potential danger to vulnerable populations as described herein.

Any felony or misdemeanor conviction that involves a crime against a member of the vulnerable population as identified in this procedure. (Example: contributing to the delinquency of a minor, exploitation of an elder adult or disabled adult.)