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A Quick Guide for Social Innovation Fund Applicants: CNCS Criminal History Checks


Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grantees are required to conduct National Service Criminal History Checks (also referred to as the Check) to ensure eligibility of individuals in covered positions, as well as to ensure the safety of staff and grant beneficiaries. Please note that this is a staff-intensive process you will need to include in your budget. Failure to conduct Checks on eligible employees may result in the hours charged to the grant by the ineligible employee to be disallowed, requiring the organization to repay the funds and/or resulting in loss of future funding.

Who Is Required to Receive the Check?

  • Any individual in a covered position as defined by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), receiving pay, whether from Federal or match funds.  

What is the Check Process?

  • Employees MUST be checked BEFORE the first day of employment on SIF-funded work
  • Check all employees against the National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR)
  • Initiate State and FBI checks for employees with reoccurring access to vulnerable populations*. If an employee has no or only sporadic access to vulnerable populations, they must pass either a State check or an FBI check.
    • An employee who has not cleared the State/FBI check must be physically accompanied by another cleared employee when he or she accesses vulnerable populations (accompaniment)
  • All steps in the process must be clearly documented, including but not limited to
    • Dated screenshots of NSOPR search results verifying cleared individual
    • Printed and dated results of State checks, including the State requirements
    • Printed and dated results of FBI checks and how the results were obtained
    • Record of any accompaniments including start date, end date, and employee doing the accompanying

For additional information, watch this 4-minute video overview of the CNCS Criminal History Background Check. (Note: This video was developed for both SIF grantees and CNCS national service programs).

* A vulnerable population is defined as meeting at least one of the following criteria: children age 17 and younger, adults age 60 and older, or individuals with disabilities.

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