From Santa Hollywood

Insight into Christmas, the Holidays and the World of Santa Claus

Special Report – Protecting Santa Claus – Background Checks

posted by SantaTim On October - 5 - 2012 Comments Off on Special Report – Protecting Santa Claus – Background Checks

Protecting Santa Claus –  The need for Background Checks

(This is the first in a three-part series on Protecting Santa Claus)

In recent years it has become a  necessity that all Santas have background checks and  obtain some form of entertainer’s liability insurance.   It is no longer just the simple task of putting on the Red Suit, now we find we have to protect ourselves and our clients.

If you haven’t already gotten your insurance and background check, now is the perfect time to take action.  So today, I am going to discuss Background Checks. And I have collected information on various background checks and the links are at the end of this report.

Why Background checks

It is fact that many parents are fearful of their children falling into the wrong hands.  At least once each holiday season we hear a rumor, or there is a news story, telling us of a situation where a child has been harmed or molested by someone the child thought they could trust, and maybe even the family trusted.

There have also been stories over the years, informing us of teachers, ministers and care givers who committed violent and unthinkable acts against a child, a senior or someone in their care.

Needless to say, the behavior and actions of a few have created levels of concern to the photo companies, the malls and, more importantly, the many parents who bring their children to see the ‘Man in Red.’

Shopping malls, entertainment companies and holiday photo companies have heard these stories too.  Because of this, and the requests of parents, they have taken on the practice of screening their Santas and, in most cases, all of their holiday employees.

This is not to say that Santa, nor his helpers are a problem.  The reason for the background checks is to give assurance to the families that their children will be safe.  It also gives everyone some peace of mind.

Employment screening was once as simple as a detailed employment application and a few phone calls to references, former employers and friends.

But times change and with that, today’s background checks are very detailed starting with a Social Security number trace and including a national criminal history search, checks against sexual offender and molestation registries, motor vehicle records search, credit history, verification of education, and previous employment references.

Hospitals, convalescent homes, daycare centers and schools are now finding it a requirement to perform a complete background check on all employees.  This practice includes everyone from doctors and teachers to the janitorial staff, teacher aides and anyone who volunteers.

And all major youth organizations and associations or charities that work with children not only require background checks with checks against national sex offender registries, but have established written policies on how their volunteers work and manage the children.

A good criminal background check should verify your identification and that you are who you say you are.  It should also include a criminal background check going back 5 to 10 years, and should be done for every county you have lived in during that 5 to ten year period.

Unless you are going to be handling someone else’s money, they should not need a credit report, although some companies look at those for character evaluations.

Some companies hiring may also want a Santa to have a drug test.  I have even heard of a few situations where the local or county health agencies required anyone working with children to have a TB test.

Some major companies require detailed, thorough background checks.  This is because whatever happens in their business or activities, is highly visible in the media.  For some reason, Major corporations, Public figures and even Santa Claus are easy targets for the media.  Should there be one problem with an employee or contractor, it will become a national or international news item.  It could even go viral on the internet.  So the Background check is a necessity.

Getting your Background check

If you are working for, or planning to work for, a major Photo Company or mall, they will generally take care of processing a full employment and background check on you.  If you are a contract employee, you may be asked to supply and pay for your own insurance and background check.

If you work for yourself and want to obtain something that you can show clients when asked, there are a few ways to obtain a background check.

Most major companies and many clients, including RealSantas.com now require that anyone working with children be required to confirm a background check prior to working at any booking or event.  Many clubs and associations now also require background checks of anyone joining.

To insure that the background check information is ‘Fresh,’ my company does not require the background check be done until October 1, or four weeks prior to the first day of work.  If you are a year-round entertainer or a Summer-Santa, you should have a background check done annually or at least every 18 months.  We normally will accept a background check if it is within the past 18 months.

ALL ACCEPTABLE BACKGROUND CHECKS MUST INCLDUED:

  • A national criminal records database search.
  • A national sexual offender database search.

If the background check is not within the past 18 months, or if is does not include the two national record checks listed above, it is not acceptable as a background check.  Therefore, local municipal or county record searches, applications and permits for business, hunting, or other activities are generally not admissible for this purpose as they do not include the national checks.

Some companies or associations will accept documentation or proof of background checks by legitimate agencies, however the records check must include all of the above national data bases, otherwise they will not be accepted.

We also know that some entertainment insurance companies are now providing additional molestation insurance coverage when the background check is done at the time of getting insurance. Check with your insurance company or association. (Details on insurance will be in tomorrow’s blog.)

Financial or credit background checks are generally not required nor necessary and normally do not include the national criminal and sexual offender searches.   RealSantas.com does not require drug testing and/or fingerprint checks, at this time, unless specified by the Client.    However please know that some photo companies and malls may request such as a condition of  employment.  This is usually at their expense.

The basic cost for a background check varies from around $20.00 or less, to as much as $50.00, or more if there are any record search fees charged by your city, county or state.  Unless your background check is being paid for by a photo company or mall, this fee is usually paid by you.

Background checks are for each individual.  It cannot be extended to couples, partners or other entertainers.

Some Santas, on their own, visit their local police department or county sheriff’s office and have them run a report.  These are limited possibly to the county and state they are run in.  And in some cases this will satisfy any request you might ever get from a client.  But more than often, if these do not have checks of the national criminal and sex offender data bases, will not be accepted.

Other Santas are foster parents, or do volunteer work with children’s associations or agencies.  These agencies will process a background check on you.  If you are lucky, you might be able to use this background check for your Santa work.  But often, it is only for their use.  So you may still have to get your own background check.

A few Santa organizations are now asking, and even requiring, that their members get or have some sort of criminal background check.

Beginning in 2007, I began requiring all of my Santas and anyone working with my clients to have a current background check, preferably done thirty days prior to starting work for my company.

Today, I simply give all Santas a list of agencies or services companies that offer background checks.  You can review this list at my web site www.RealSantas.com

Here is the direct link to the Background check page: http://www.RealSantas.com/backgroundchecks.htm

It is not easy going to a Santa you have known for five or ten years and asking them to submit to a background check.  But times are changing, and we do want to protect the children.

Tomorrow – Santa’s Liability Insurance

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