Jackson wants to do background checks on volunteers

To lend a helping hand in Jackson County, a willingness to volunteer may not be enough.


County Manager Chuck Wooten is asking that commissioners look at implementing a more stringent application process and some type of background check for residents who want to volunteer with the county.

Such a policy could affect participation in programs from Meals on Wheels to youth basketball programs. Wooten said he is most concerned about the quality of people that are put in direct contact with the county’s elderly and youth.

“We know youth and seniors would be an important area to look at,” Wooten said. “We need to make sure we’re putting the appropriate people in the appropriate situations to help these folks.”

Background checks and a screening process are commonplace for volunteers at many nonprofit organizations, church organizations and Western Carolina University, Wooten said. And though he doesn’t have any reason to believe there has been any wrongdoing by the county’s volunteers, to have safeguards in place might avoid an unfortunate incident.

“I think it’s just a good business practice,” Wooten said. “We just need to confirm it.”

Wooten said the county will look at such policies in the coming weeks to decide the depth and the scope of such background checks or screening for volunteers.

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