By Andrea Arnold, Associate editor/reporter

The need for volunteers continues to be an issue across the valley. Specifically for people who are dedicated and able to help make children’s activities possible.
However, the process to become a volunteer with an up-to-date criminal reference check is a lengthy and onerous one.
I have had a check completed in the past, but this year, as I started looking into what I needed to do to be a coach at the highschool, I discovered that mine had expired. Volleyball is a very short season, so we are trying to get it completed quickly.
I knew that the school board has an online system, so I attempted that. However, the only way to complete it through that system is to have the serial number of your BC Services Card on hand. I had to order one, and was told I had about a 10 day wait to get it in the mail. Once I receive the card, it could take up to several months before the whole process is complete.
In the meantime, I checked with the local RCMP detachment. I was told that waiting for the card and completing the application online was still probably going to be my faster option.
We have small schools, and a small population. There is not an unlimited number of qualified, cleared and available people willing to step up for class trips, events and sports teams.
When a family moves into the valley, is it fair that it can take almost half the school year before they can volunteer for their children’s class trips? If someone comes from another province, the process of getting a BC Services Card adds to that timeline. If a person is unfortunate and has to go through the second step of fingerprinting, even more time will have passed before they can step in to help.
I am not suggesting that the requirement for the criminal reference check be removed. It is there for the safety of everyone, not just the children. I am more thinking that there must be a way that the process can be expedited.
The school is working with the district to figure out a speedy solution for my dilemma, however, I cannot imagine I am alone with this headache.
As the kids have been in school for a month now, I might suggest to anyone who has had a clearance completed through the school, double check when yours expires. It might be a good idea to start the process now, even if you are still cleared for the next several months so you are not surprised later on when you try to help out.