Jun30ThuFour Worthy Recipients are Awarded the Plan to Protect® Seal of Excellence June 30, 2022
TORONTO, JULY 1, 2022, Plan to Protect®, is pleased to announce that four organizations have been recognized for their outstanding achievements in meeting the HIGHEST STANDARD of safeguarding the vulnerable sector as outlined in the Plan to Protect Safeguarding Guide for Children, Youth and Adults. A Peer Review Panel evaluated their submissions demonstrating how they are meeting the high standard of protection that was presented.
The Plan to Protect® Seal of Excellence program recognizes outstanding achievements by churches, charities, not-for-profits and businesses globally. Individuals representing a Peer Review Panel read through each submission in response to the 12 standards, assessing how strongly the organization demonstrated that they are meeting each standard. The 12 categories include Leadership Buy-In, Awareness of Abuse, Policy, Screening, Training, Operational Procedures, Facility, Documentation and Administrative Processes, Reporting, Response, and commitment to protection.
Melodie Bissell, President of Plan to Protect, stated, “On behalf of Plan to Protect and our Advisory Board, I am very pleased to present the Plan to Protect® Seal of Excellence to four outstanding organizations that have demonstrated that they have met the rigorous standards and requirements of the program. In a world where abuse, sexual misconduct, and abuse of power is so prevalent, they are wonderful role models to other churches, schools and camps that desire to create safe environments.”
The four recipients of the Plan to Protect® Seal of Excellence include Muskoka Woods Camp (Huntsville, ON), Life of Victory World Outreach Centre (Victoria, BC), Society of St. Pius X (Toronto Priory, ON), and Calvary Christian School (St. Catharines, ON).
Chris Tompkins, Muskoka Woods’ Executive Director (Ontario) responded when hearing the news, “We are honoured by this recognition. Safety is our paramount goal as we welcome thousands of children from around the world annually. Our many years of partnering with Plan to Protect have enabled us to provide the highest assurance to parents as they entrust with their children. We are grateful for the recognition of the hard work all our staff and volunteers have done to achieve this high level of excellence.” Since 1979, Muskoka Woods has welcomed everyone to an experience of a lifetime. At Muskoka Woods, we believe that fun plus reflection equals confidence. Unlimited fun is delivered through our dedicated staff, top-notch facilities and 50+ activities. By encouraging youth to reflect and draw deeper meaning from fun experiences, we give them the confidence to shape their world. Safety First is their mantra.
However, with any camp, there are occasions where a child discloses that they have been abused. When asked the question “How and when does leadership learn about abuse?” Diane Huff responded, “As soon as a staff member learns of abuse, he/she contacts our Summer Director immediately. This is not for affirmation as to whether or not to consult authorities, it is so that the staff member and the reporter can be supported throughout the reporting process. We report immediately. At times we have also reached out to Melodie at Plan to Protect for advice and support.”
When hearing of their achievement, Bonita Hannesson from Life of Victory World Outreach Centre Inc. (British Columbia) said, “We consider it a special honour and privilege to be awarded the Plan to Protect Seal of Excellence and to work with Melodie Bissell, President & CEO, and the Plan to Protect Team.” This church rents a church building in Victoria on Vancouver Island. In response to how they secure leadership buy-in and ensure that safeguarding is a priority at the church they responded, “At Life of Victory World Outreach Centre, we have a team of three certified Administrator / Leaders and one Trainer that annually review our Plan to Protect® Policies and present them to the board for approval once adjustments have been made.
Changes to the Plan to Protect® Policies are made as we become aware of new legislation, best practices or the need to improve the wording. We review our policies and procedures annually to assure that we are abiding by them. This internal audit is done each fall and helps us identify necessary changes while affirming where we are doing well. Recently, one of our board members completed the Crisis Management and Response training which will help our church prepare for unforeseen circumstances that could draw public and media attention. Though we believe for the best we are preparing for the worst.”
St. Michael’s priory Society of St. Pius X is a religious community located in Ontario. St. Michael's Priory is a Traditional Catholic Community in Toronto. They celebrate daily Latin Mass, and offer all the sacraments according to the 1962 usage. Fr. Dominique Boulet not only oversees St. Michael’s priory, but he also has been assigned to oversee the Plan to Protect program for all of the priories across Canada.
Recognizing that it takes a team to achieve such an award he states, “I am thrilled by the Plan to Protect Seal of Excellence that was awarded to St. Michael’s priory – Society of St. Pius X. Let me thank our dedicated staff and volunteers who, on account of their teamwork and hard labour, deserved such award.” When asked why they believe they qualify for the Seal, Fr. Boulet responded, “With all humility, I firmly believe that, since the first contacts with Plan to Protect, back in 2012, our organization has been very serious in developing and implementing the Plan to Protect Abuse Prevention program. Moreover, our Policy was tested in real life three years ago when we had to report an incident of abuse. Both police officers and social workers involved in that case congratulated us for our serious and professional approach, and for the solution.”
Donna Jo Hewitt, full time teacher and Vice Principal well on her way to becoming a Safeguarding Professional said of Calvary Christian School, “we recognize that our students are treasures from God. As staff and volunteers, we are a reflection of God’s love to those in our care and we take our responsibility seriously. Our goal is to protect God’s plans and the destiny He has for each student, and to create an environment that is safe and secure so that they are able to grow toward the fulfillment of His plans. It is very honouring for us to be recognized for excellence in implementing Plan to Protect standards that help us to achieve these goals.” Though for a school, Donna Jo recognizes that achieving this level of safeguarding is not easy. When asked about obstacles they face or have had to overcome, Donna Jo responded, “Administratively, there is a lot of work involved in keeping everyone up to date in all areas of screening and training. Our staff is committed to taking the necessary time and giving the necessary energy to keep our level of protection in the area of excellence. People's busy lives and schedules and our need for volunteers could be a roadblock but we seek to do all that we can to make sure we overcome these obstacles by offering lots of training opportunities and directing them to Plan to Protect online resources if needed. We do not compromise our screening requirements no matter what!”
We congratulate these four worthy recipients of the Plan to Protect® Seal of Excellence. Each recipient will receive a banner, logo and certificate recognizing their noteworthy achievement that they can display for three years! They will be featured to participate in upcoming webinars and podcasts. Their best practices will be added to our data collection of best practices. Access to this data collection of best practices is a Plan to Protect member benefit.
Our review and determination of the submissions were undertaken with great care. However, we strongly recommend that participants, parents and caregivers do their own due diligence in assessing whether an organization is providing the standard of care they desire for themselves and their loved ones. The Plan to Protect®Seal of Excellence is based on a set of questions, requiring organizations to demonstrate that they are meeting the rigorous standards. Achieving the standard does not guarantee that abuse, injury, or harm will not happen at the organization, nor does it ensure that the organization will qualify for abuse coverage with their insurance provider. Organizations are encouraged to seek out the legal requirements within the Province, Territory and State and seek out the requirements of their insurance company to qualify for abuse coverage. Only recipients of the Plan to Protect Seal of Excellence may display the logo. They may display it for a term of three years upon signing the Logo Agreement.