CVPA Question Of The Month - May
A Volunteer Wants to Know if Their Application Will be Approved
At our registration event, a volunteer approached me with her Volunteer Application Form. She explained that she had a criminal conviction from her college days and wanted to know if it was going to pose a problem. I didn’t know what to say to her, but I told her that I didn’t think it would affect her ability to volunteer. It turns out that her volunteer application was not approved and she was very upset with me! How could I have answered her question differently to avoid this situation?
Although it can be tempting to reassure volunteers that their volunteer applications will be approved, it is not advisable to do so, for many reasons. For example, the information provided by the volunteer in the disclosure section, such as the date of conviction, may be inaccurate. Likewise, the volunteer may have disclosed one conviction when in reality they have multiple convictions. Until the information provided on the application is confirmed through a background check, it is inappropriate to discuss the possible outcome of that application. The danger is that when we use words intended merely as reassuring or positive, they can be interpreted as something more formal by the volunteer. When that same volunteer is later notified that their application was not approved, there is genuine surprise and frustration on their part.
The best course of action when asked about whether a particular conviction is going to impede the ability to volunteer is to let the volunteer know that those decisions are not made at the local level. You should also share the AYSO Criminal Background Check Policy with any volunteer who has this type of question, and let them know that all determinations are made according to that policy.