BU Protection of Minors (POM) and Field-Site Background Checks

For all students who will be in field placement this semester including job-related and out-of-state placements

Action Needed

All students must:

Overarching Questions

1. Are the BU Protection of Minors (POM) policy and field-site background checks the same thing?

No! Criminal background checks are procedures that allow an organization to review an individual’s available criminal history. POM is a University-wide policy and set of requirements that (a) educate BU students on signs of neglect/abuse and reporting obligations, and (b) once every three years, document BU student compliance with site background check policy and procedure.


  • POM applies to job-related placements as well (see FAQ 1k)
  • See FAQ 1d for more information about the BU POM requirements.
  • Review this Summary Chart for a helpful snapshot of what is required and the order that they normally occur.

2. How do I know if I am all set with the BU POM requirements? 

  • Log in to the Sonia Field Data System with your Kerberos user name/password;
  • Click the Checks tab;
  • If you see “cleared” marked in green highlight, then that requirement is all set (no further action needed).

3. Do I need to complete background checks for my site if I already completed the BU POM?

Yes! The POM is a BU policy and, in contrast, background checks are state-mandated procedures. As a welcome guest in the field, you are always obligated to abide by all site policies in a timely manner before your placement begins.


  • If you are continuing your field placement at the same organization during the same academic year or if you are not working with minors, you may be all set, but just to be sure, double-check with your field site.
  • If you do not complete your site background checks on time, that may delay your placement. You can ask your field site if they will allow you to begin, provided that your checks are in process and you are always in the presence of site staff (never left alone with minors). Ultimately, it is the site’s decision, and all BU students must abide by their site’s policies and procedures. If there are delays, please notify your placement coordinator or assigned BU supervisor.

4. How do I know which field-site background checks are needed?

ALWAYS ask your field site’s administration (e.g., the front office) or human resources office. If you are unsure whom to ask, then see if your site supervisor can point you in the right direction. Public school placements in Massachusetts require the CORI and fingerprint, but other settings may have different requirements.

TO REITERATE: You are always obligated to abide by all site policies, so please be sure to ask and act soon.


  • See the Essential Tips and FAQs in the left-side navigation bar for general information and guidance.
  • DE503 and ED200 students need to wait for guidance from their course instructor.

5. How can I complete the BU POM requirements if I don’t have my field placement yet?

You need to wait. Save this information for future reference. When you receive your field placement from your program’s placement coordinator, you will be well positioned to act quickly. The one thing you can and should complete now if you have not already done so is the POM Online Training (see FAQ 1d and 1i).

BU Wheelock Field Policies and Placement Standards

Sonia Field Database

Sonia is the field-placement data system that BU Wheelock uses to manage all field placements.  Sonia is also the official timesheet keeping system for students in field placement to keep track of their hours. Below are some helpful “How To” resources to support your use of the Sonia timesheets. 

Further Resources