Guide to AB-506 Compliant Background Checks


California law now specifies the type of background check that must be completed. Your background check will need to be conducted through the California Department of Justice.

‘An administrator, employee, or regular volunteer of a youth service organization shall undergo a background check pursuant to Section 11105.3 of the Penal Code to identify and exclude any persons with a history of child abuse.’

Prevention of Crimes and Apprehension of Criminals

Section 11105.3 states: 

  • ‘shall include the applicant’s fingerprints’
  • ‘a fee shall not be charged to a nonprofit organization’
  • ‘Requests received by the department for federal level criminal offender record information shall be forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by the department to be searched for any record of arrests or convictions.’

What this means is that all background checks conducted using an online service no longer meet the requirements in California. There is significant debate on this topic (especially from those who are in the business of selling background checks to churches in California). You’ll hear from an online background check provider that their background checks are better than LiveScan, that their background check offers bells & whistles that LiveScan does not include, etc. We are sorry, but the online background check providers may continue to sell their background checks in other states, but in California, it is very specific about the background checks that must be conducted.

Understanding LiveScan for Your Ministry

So, what does this background check include?
It includes the data compiled by the California Department of Justice. 

Is this enough?
Nope. It’s limited in the information that is gathered to the California DOJ records.

So, what should we do?
While the law requires that you conduct a California DOJ check, it’s important to add an additional check that will search records outside of California. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Add the Federal FBI Check as well. This is an ‘enhanced’ LiveScan check and searches the national criminal history database, which contains criminal history information from any states or federal agencies that have reported information to the FBI. There are 28 states that participate in the Interstate Identification Index.
  2. Additionally, your ministry may want to consult with an online background check vendor (especially if your employee or volunteer has lived in one of the 23 states that do not participate in the Interstate Identification Index).

It’s a tough call… do just the California DOJ check as required by law? Probably not enough and you’ll want to add at least one of the other options. Both of the above options have merit and you’ll want to determine what is best for your ministry.

The legislation says that these background checks are free. What’s the catch?
The legislation doesn’t explain that there are some additional fees that you’ll incur. There is a fingerprint fee (between $15 & $99 depending on where the fingerprints are taken). There are fees for employees ($32) for the California DOJ check and there are fees for the FBI check ($17 for employees and $15 for volunteers).

How do we know where to go for LiveScan?
The California Department of Justice has a searchable database of locations that includes the associated fees. Search by your location and filter by ‘Rolling Fee’.

Is it easy?
No. It’s inconvenient and it takes time to get set up.

Should we conduct a background check in addition to LiveScan?
That’s up to you. What you must do is the LiveScan check that searches the California DOJ data.

Is there any good news about using LiveScan?
YES! Ministries that have been using LiveScan really like it. There is a feature called ‘Subsequent Arrest Notice’ that makes it so that you only need to do one background check as long as someone is employed by of volunteering for your church. Most online checks need to be repeated every 2-5 years. 

Where else can we go for help?
The team at The ChurchHRNetwork has compiled a guide titled ‘Everything You Need to Know About LiveScan’ document that will take you through the steps of setting your church up for LiveScan, steps for fingerprinting, and how to roll fingerprints on your campus.

Get the Guide

Everything You Need to Know About LiveScan