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Are You Doing Your Due Diligence?

May 13, 2010

Dear Responsible Youth Sport Advocate:

Recently there has been high profile attention to the issue of predators in youth sports. As a result of this heightened attention it is more important than ever that we are all doing our due diligence to protect and preserve the integrity of our organizations. In the spirit of keeping children safe, we hope you find this email helpful in providing history as well as a responsible call to action by reviewing your organization’s best practices, policies and procedures. Albeit a lengthy email it is an important correspondence. Please continue to use the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) as a valuable resource and partner in amateur youth sports.

Honestly, background checks are one of the most important services the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) has ever offered to its membership. NCYS is an untiring advocate for youth issues, for the protection of children, and for eradicating criminal behavior in our organizations as well as society in order to make a positive difference for children of all backgrounds, genders, and economic diversities.

The Problem, How & Why the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) Got Involved.
In 2002, at the request of our members, the NCYS began a nationwide movement to protect our children, volunteers and administrators, and organizations from the possible loss of personal or organization assets because of costly litigation.

The NCYS criminal background screening initiative first began with the youth sports industry taking its concerns to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. NCYS was named in the PROTECT Act of 2003 to work with the FBI on a pilot program. Fingerprint checks were not the answer--they are just not rapid, reliable or affordable and only caught those with a criminal record history. We sought an vendors. We quickly learned that the credibility of various vendors was also questionable as their results are only accurate if they are comprehensive and kept up-to-date. We knew we had to get involved for the safety and protection of our children and society as a whole.

Another issue was often the person(s)/volunteers(s) responsible for the background checks are not always properly trained and they were left with the daunting task of judgment and jury on their peers without any policies or standards to follow. At the request of our members we created the “NCYS Recommended Guidelines for Volunteer Background Screening in Nonprofit Youth-Serving Organizations” to assist the youth serving industry with best practices, policies and procedures. These guidelines have quickly evolving into the industry standard.

NCYS also engaged the insurance companies into our child safety program initiative in order to prove our youth serving industry is taking on the responsibility, implementing best practices and properly protecting them against the liability exposure. NCYS remains active on Capitol Hill keeping a pulse on all legislation affecting our initiatives in order to secure the safest possible environment for the children in our care.

The Solution.
To further these goals, NCYS co-founded the National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI) in order to provide the very best background screening service solely dedicated to the unique needs of youth serving organizations. NCSI was formed in partnership with the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) with the goal of significantly increasing the level of safety for our youth and minimizing the organization’s liability risks.

NCYS, without exception, is the industry leader on complete and comprehensive criminal background screening program for youth serving organizations. NCSI is dedicated to this cause with passionate determination as the first-line of defense in the protection of the children under the care of the youth-serving industry.

The National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI) is the only national background screening services specifically dedicated to the protection of children and vulnerable populations. NCSI is also the only licensed company authorized to apply the “NCYS Recommended Guidelines for Background Check Screening in Nonprofit Youth-Serving Organizations” to its background screening, focusing its efforts, systems, and expertise directly into seven identified risk factors using multiple vendors to ensure client organizations will meet and exceed due diligence. In addition, NCSI is the only company that serves as a resource for NCYS members in terms of criminal background checks, educational training, policies, and other important related activities.

Let the buyer beware! While we wholeheartedly encourage you to be on top of your game with background screening please be careful what background screening company you contract with. Using a vendor who might provide a 'great rate' but doesn’t keep their information current and complete may actually do your organization and the children you serve more harm than good by providing a false sense of security.

NCSI is the choice of many of the most renowned and reputable organizations in the world. NCSI handles ALL aspects of the screening process from start to finish saving you time, money and the legal issues associated with the many liabilities involved in background screening. Don't forget to provide NCSI with your NCYS membership number and receive a special savings.

The National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI) Fully-Managed Program.
NCSI provides a comprehensive search with the assurance of the highest quality information available, plus all administrative benefits and features making your program the very best around. As part of NCSI’s fully-managed program, the following searches are generally conducted on every applicant:

Identity verification, using SSN Verification/Trace report;
National Criminal database search, updated regularly with more than 300 million criminal records;
OFAC terrorist database search;
Sex Offender Registry search of all available states (presently 49, plus DC, Guam and Puerto Rico);
Additionally, most of NCSI’s programs include at least one county search that generally covers longest and most recent residency in past five years.

NCSI offers additional search components that can be easily added to your program, including county and federal court searches, motor vehicle records and more. NCSI’s standard search protocol looks for criminal convictions, including (1) felonies, (2) lesser crimes of a sexual nature, (3) lesser crimes involving force/threat of force, (4) lesser crimes involving controlled substances (generally not paraphernalia or alcohol), and (5) crimes involving cruelty to animals.

Over the years, NCSI has conducted thousands of criminal background checks and has issued RED LIGHTS on convictions for crimes as serious as: rape and attempted rape, manslaughter, lewd acts on a child, armed robbery, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, sodomy, murder, mayhem, manufacture/distribution of controlled substances, embezzlement, forgery, assault with a deadly weapon and battery. Unfortunately, this list is by no means the full list of the crimes they have uncovered in our process. Remember also, that these offenses are associated with individuals who willingly submitted to a background screening with the intention of working with youth or other vulnerable populations, believing that somehow their convictions would not be discovered. NCSI’s effective background screening programs have saved thousands of people from harm and millions of dollars in losses to organizations.

While background screening is a critical element to any hiring, certification and/or volunteer process, it is not the “be all, end all” as it relates to safety in youth organizations. It is important to know that criminal background checks, through any source, have some limitations. The criminal records system in America is highly fragmented, with courts housing records at local, county, state and federal levels. There are civil and criminal courts, as well as any number of enforcement agencies with different protocols for reporting and classifying crimes. As well, if a crime is not reported and/or processed or if the arrest/charge was dismissed and/or did not result in a conviction or was later sealed, expunged or otherwise removed, the record may not be available and/or applicable. Screening is simply a tool that gives us important information about an individual that may be used as part of an overall process.

Other Important Risk Management Tools.
In addition to background screening, it is important to have comprehensive risk management policies in place, including “zero opportunity/zero tolerance,” as well as having clearly established lines of communication. Conduct appropriate communication, training and response protocol on a regular basis and immediately report potential criminal behavior on the part of any coach, official, etc. to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Reference checking is another important source of information, including previous clubs/teams or athletes with whom the individual has worked. Ask specific questions about the individual’s behaviors and if anyone has reported any inappropriate behavior(s) that might be of concern to you. Additionally, work with your insurance provider and/or other risk management experts to help maintain a safe environment.

Important Resources for You:
National Council of Youth Sports ( 772-781-1452
National Center for Safety Initiatives ( 440-542-9690 or 866-833-7100
Darkness to Light (
The Diana Screen (
Insurance companies who support NCYS and the youth sports/youth serving industry

Call to Action.
We encourage your thoughtful consideration to protect your staff, volunteers, organization and most importantly the children by reviewing your organization’s best practices, policies and procedures. We appreciate you taking responsible action to protect our youth sports/youth serving industry. We are here to assist you and we are thankful for all you do each day to make your programs the very best and safest they can be.

Yours truly for the kids,
Sally S. Johnson, CSA
Executive Director
National Council of Youth Sports
7185 SE Seagate Lane; Stuart, FL 34997
772-781-1452 office
National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI)
Call 866-833-7100 or
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Get to know the National Council of Youth Sports
The National Council of Youth Sports is a unified voice for youth sports. Founded in 1979, the NCYS represents the youth sports industry by advancing the values of participation and educating and developing leaders. It is our goal to preserve the integrity of organized youth sports while strengthening the performance of youth sports administrators. NCYS is committed to enhancing the youth sports experience in America by supporting and addressing the issues affecting more than 44-million actual boys and girls/60-million registered participants in organized youth sports. For more information call 772-781-1452 or visit