COLUMBUS — To better screen volunteers in its youth programs, a new Ohio State University policy requires those who work with children to be fingerprinted every four years.
Since 2002, new volunteers in OSU Extension youth programs — including roughly 20,000 4-H advisers and Master Gardener volunteers across the state — have been required to have an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Activity fingerprint and background check.
The new policy now requires all students, staff and volunteers working in these programs to be fingerprinted every four years.
And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been a 4-H adviser for 40 years. Volunteers who were “grandfathered” in 2002 and have never been fingerprinted are also subject to the policy.
Kirk Bloir, associate state 4-H leader, said the university expects there to be some resistance to the new policy, particularly from longtime volunteers. But it’s being applied consistently to all volunteers, he explained, to ensure the safety of the children in the programs.
Bloir said some new volunteer applicants have been disqualified since the policy went into effect, but to date, no current volunteers have been asked to step down because of something the check turned up.
The Ohio Revised Code specifies certain criminal convictions as disqualifying events. These range from the more obvious — convictions for rape, murder, assault and various sex- or drug-related offenses — to the less obvious — crimes such as voyeurism, putting harmful objects in food or confection, and interference with custody.
A full list of disqualifying offenses can be found at www.go.osu.edu/DQoffenses.
The program is being phased in over the four years. For example, persons who began volunteering before 2012 would be required to be fingerprinted by the end of 2015.
Some 4-H programs, Bloir said, are already on more stringent fingerprinting renewal schedules, such as its National Guard partnership program, Operation: Military Kids, which requires that volunteers be fingerprinted yearly.
The base cost of fingerprinting is set by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and administrative costs vary by location or agency providing the service.
Volunteers are required to pay for the fingerprinting, which generally costs between $30 and $40
If a volunteer has not lived in Ohio for the past five years, he may also need to be fingerprinted by the FBI, which costs $30.
Some county Extension offices or county 4-H programs are subsidizing a portion of the fingerprinting cost, Bloir said.
Fingerprinting is conducted at most county sheriff’s offices and, in most cases, requires an appointment. A list of locations providing fingerprinting services can be found at www.myfbireport.com/locations/lawEnforcement/OH.php.
Bloir also suggested contacting the agency that will be doing the fingerprinting to see what forms of identification and other information are required.
Who sees information
The fingerprint information, Bloir said, will be used only for the purpose of the background check.
“It is a biometric scanning tool — a form of identification that belongs to you and no one else,” he said. “We don’t keep anything on file. We get a report from the agency and in the vast majority of cases there are no convictions of any kind in the (volunteer’s) background.”
For more information, visit http://go.osu.edu/Policy150 or contact the OSU 4-H Youth Development office at 614-247-8168.
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