Criminal Background Check Requirements

Under the Serve America Act (SAA), all grantees must conduct National Service Criminal History checks on participants and program employees in AmeriCorps, Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and any other programs funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) under National Service laws.

National Service Criminal History check regulations have been in effect since November 2007 when two-part checks were first required under specific programs, and only on individuals in recurring contact with a vulnerable population.

Coverage was expanded under the SAA to all national service programs and covered individuals even without contact to a vulnerable population. Since that time, all grantees must conduct at least two-part National Service Criminal History checks on participants and program employees in AmeriCorps, Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and any other programs funded by the CNCS under National Service laws.

Beginning April 21, 2011, the law required that programs conduct three-part checks -- including FBI, statewide repository, and sex offender registry checks -- on individuals who will have recurring contact with vulnerable populations.

All employees, participants, and others who receive a salary, national service education award, living allowance, or stipend under CNCS grants, even if the activities don't involve service with vulnerable populations, must receive the checks prior to beginning employment or service. Summer of service awards are not considered national service education awards.

For the RSVP and VISTA programs, grantees are not required to conduct criminal history checks on their volunteers. However, RSVP and VISTA grantees are required to conduct criminal history checks on all employees who receive part or all of their salary from the respective program grant.

Required FBI Checks (Updated Oct. 5, 2012)

The National Service Criminal History Check Final Rule has been published in the Federal Register. You can read the rule and review additional guidance on the National Service Criminal History Check on our Knowledge Network. In addition, here are the latest Criminal History Check FAQs (Updated November, 2013). If you still have questions, please email your Program Officer.  

Additional Resources

Postings include guidance on obtaining an FBI fingerprint check; FAQs, including a list of the official state repositories; and copies of the regulations. Program-specific fact sheets are posted as soon as they are available.

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