Criminal History Check Resources

Under the National and Community Service Act of 1990, as amended by the Serve America Act (SAA), all grantees must conduct National Service Criminal History checks on participants and program employees in AmeriCorps, Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, MLK, 9/11, Volunteer Generation Fund, Social Innovation Fund and any other programs funded by the Corporation under National Service laws. All employees, participants, and others who receive a salary, national service education award, living allowance, or stipend under Corporation grants, even if the activities don't involve service with vulnerable populations, must conduct the checks prior to beginning employment or service. 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.

The statutory requirement at 42 U.S.C. § 12645g is supplemented by regulatory requirements at 45 CFR §2540.200 through §2540.207 (updated in 2012) as well as the terms and conditions of our grants. A grantee or subgrantee’s inability to demonstrate that you conducted any aspect of the required criminal history checks will likely result in cost disallowance.

The guidance below is updated regularly. Look for the word “NEW!” to identify recent updates.

NEW! Online Introductory Course

This online course, new in 2016, provides an overview of the National Service Criminal History Check requirements. This interactive, practical course will help you understand how to meet the requirements on time, every time. It is required for CNCS grantees and subgrantees annually. Get started! (Instructions for navigating through the course using a screen reader).

NEW! Video Trainings

Click here to view our new video library on the National Service Criminal History Check process. Use them for a quick review or to brush up on specific parts of the process as you implement them in your organization. Looking for a brief introduction to the process as whole? This four-and-a-half minute video recaps the key steps. Then, come back here for more information.

Federal Regulations:

  1. Read the Federal Register Notice of the Final Rule - published on October 5, 2012 (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. NEW! Frequently Asked Questions, Updated July 7, 2016 (PDF)

National Service Criminal History Check Components:

  1. NSOPW Check
    NSOPW Guidance (PDF)
    Department of Justice (DOJ) National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)
  2. State(s) Check
    State Check Guidance (PDF)
    CNCS Designated State Criminal History Information Repositories and Alternatives (PDF)
  3. FBI Check
    NEW! FBI Check Guidance (PDF)
    NEW! Using Fieldprint as an FBI Channeler - A Guide for CNCS Grantees (PDF)
    How to Use Fieldprint as an FBI Channeler (Video) (Transcript)
  4. FBI Memorandum to State Repositories RE: Serve America Act (PDF)

NEW! Alternate Search Procedure (ASP) and Exemptions:

  1. ASP and Exemption Guidance (PDF)
  2. ASP Request Form (DOC) (PDF)
  3. Exemption Request Form (DOC) (PDF)
  4. Current Pre-Approved ASPs as of January 4, 2016 (PDF)


  1. OGC Guidance on False Statement and Eligibility (PDF)
  2. Component Assessment (DOCX) (PDF)
  3. Procedures Review (DOCX) (PDF)
  4. NEW! 2016 Documentation Checklist (DOCX - With Text Boxes) (DOCX - Text Only) (PDF)
  5. Steps Checklist (PDF)
  6. Effective Dates (PDF)
  7. Effective Dates Flow Chart (PDF) 
  8. Self-Certification (PDF)
  9. Vendor Guidance (PDF)


  1. Interim Disallowance Guide for Staff and Grantees, Updated September 9, 2015 (PDF)
  2. Interim Disallowance Guide Training Exercises and Answers, Updated September 9, 2015 (PDF)
  3. Mitigation Rating Worksheet, Updated September 9, 2015 (DOCX) (PDF
  4. Social Innovation Fund Disallowance Guide Training Call, September 1, 2015 (Audio) (Transcript)
  5. Social Innovation Fund Disallowance Guide Training PowerPoint, September 2, 2015 (PDF)
  6. AmeriCorps State National – Direct Grantee Training Call, September 9, 2015 (Audio) (Transcript)
  7. AmeriCorps State and National – State Service Commissions Disallowance Guide Training Call, September 2, 2015  (Audio) (Transcript)
  8. AmeriCorps State and National – State Service Commissions Disallowance Guide Training PowerPoint, September 2, 2015 (PDF)
  9. AmeriCorps VISTA Disallowance Guide Training Call, September 3, 2015 (Audio) (Transcript)
  10. Senior Corps Disallowance Guide Training Call, September 3, 2015 - Dial 888-562-2937 for the replay 

Factsheets and Reference Tables:

  1. Factsheet: State of Residence (PDF)
  2. Factsheet: VISTA Sponsor Fact Sheet (PDF)

Guidance for Recipients using FBI Channelers for Departmental Orders (DO) (April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2016):

  1. FBI Channeler DO Temporary Exemption, Updated December 3, 2015 (PDF)
  2. FBI Channeler DO Temporary Exemption Model Self-Certification Statement  (DOCX) (PDF)

NSCHC Assessment (DEADLINE HAS PASSED December 5, 2014):

  1. Guidance and Instructions (DOCX) (PDF)
  2. Q&A Assessment Period (PDF)
  3. Assessment Certification and Summary of Findings
  4. Quiz

The resources listed below are provided to help Corporation grantees establish appropriate screening procedures for the selection of volunteers and staff members. These resources contain practical, useful information that can help grantees exercise proper due care in the selection of volunteers and staff members for their respective programs. This list is not exhaustive. Consequently, it would be prudent for grantees to also review other available resources that address volunteer selection and management issues.

  1. Staff Screening Tool Kit (Third Edition) (PDF)
  2. Screening and Placing New Members, EnCorps Collection
  3. The Attorney General's Report on Criminal History Background Checks (June 2006) (PDF)
  4. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  5. National Mentoring Partnership: Background Check Resources
  6. The EEOC Compliance Manual
  7. Federal Trade Commission's Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information, 16 CFR Part 314 (PDF)
  8. NVOAD Manual (PDF)

Related Resources:

  1. Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer & Employee Screening Guidebook
  2. Guidelines for the Screening of Persons Working with Children, the Elderly, and Individuals with Disabilities in Need of Support
  3. Screening Volunteers to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: A Community Guide for Youth Organizations

Go to the Financial Management Resource page

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