4-H: Who Needs a Background Check?

— Written By Sarah Kocher
en Español / em Português

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Our program conducts criminal background checks through North Carolina State University on all new employees and volunteers who work with, interact, instruct or otherwise directly supervise minors. We sometimes refer to this as any volunteer who may be in care, custody or control of youth.

On a club level, it is recommended that a minimum of three adult volunteers be cleared by the background check process. For larger clubs, that number may be increased.

Any adult with a formal volunteer role will be asked to consent to a background check.


It depends – If parents or guardians are only attending meetings with their youth, they may not need a background check.

Here are some reasons parents may want or need a background check while their child(ern) are involved in 4-H:

  • It is helpful to the 4-H Club to have more background checked adults.
  • Parents may be project helpers to youth other than their own.
  • Their child may become club treasurer and need to assist with accounts or handling money.

New volunteers?

Almost always – As new volunteers become acclimated to 4-H, we locally recommend all volunteers be background checked if they will be in contact with youth, because that is best practice.

If adults want to volunteer but do not want a background check run on them, 4-H may not be the organization for them, but there are still several opportunities available. For instance, project record judges do not come into contact with youth, but they are important for providing feedback and encouragement to our young people through their thoughtful comments.

How to initiate a check

When adults enroll in 4HOnline, they will be prompted to identify as a volunteer. That communicates to the 4-H Agent that he/she/they will be needing a background check, and she will be in further communication with that volunteer.

Types of checks

Beyond the criminal background check, depending on the volunteer role, a driving check and financial check may be done, if the person will be driving minors in a county vehicle or handling money, respectively.

Caldwell County and North Carolina 4-H follow the protocol established by REG 01.12.18 for programs involving minors.