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  • Apr20Mon

    Hidden Risks - Assessing the Risk

    April 20, 2015
    Filed Under:
    Policies and Procedures

    Newspaper headlines:

    “Pedophile volunteered at local church.”
    “Camp Counsellor engage in inappropriate communication with camper!”
    “Family members charge Not-for-Profit organization leaders for undue influence with deceased mother’s Last Will.”

    Unfortunately these news headlines in themselves don’t surprise us anymore.  However, when we take the time to read the details of the story, we may be surprised by the circumstances. 

    Headline One:  A few years ago when I read the first headline, I recognized the name of the church and called to see if we could be of assistance.  The church is committed to ensuring a safe environment and has a strong Plan to Protect® in place. However, a sub-committee of the church decided to hold a Food Bank for the community.  During the planning committee, a new person in the church offered to help out.  The Food Bank was not a program that was regularly held and it fell through the cracks of screening staff and volunteers for children and youth programming.

    Headline Two:  The camp had very strong policies and procedures in place during the camp session.  However, once the campers and counselors left camp, the counselor began emailing and texting the campers in his cabin.  The campers shared the emails with other camp staff, and the counselor was arrested for sexual crimes against minors.  The camp was also charged for vicarious liability for the actions of their volunteer.

    Headline Three:  The family members knew their mother had bequeathed a percentage of her estate to the charity. However, when the Will was read, the family was surprised to learn that the Will had been recently changed to reflect the money was now to go directly to the Executive Director of the charity and his wife.  In discovery, it was found that the Executive Director and his wife would often visit their mother when there was no other person home. A relationship was formed, and they had shared with her the investments that the charity had, and the financial hardships they were experiencing as a family. 

    Whenever I read these stories, I realize the importance of organizations having strong protection policies and procedures in place.  Each of these scenarios identifies areas of hidden risks.  We recommend that organizations brainstorm all activities and programs they have and assess the level of risk associated with the activity.  We also recommend that policies and procedures be written to set parameters for interaction and engagement, communication after programs, and to avoid isolation during programs and when visiting the vulnerable. 

    The following Assessment Guide may be of assistance in identifying the level of risk.  For more information on accessing our help in writing policies, contact info@plantoprotect.com

    Risk Assessment Guide

    This guide will help determine if an individual should be screened and trained under Plan to Protect®.  If you respond by answering YES to any of these questions, we would recommend that you proceed with screening to ensure that you are providing a safe environment for all those involved.

    Risk Category

    Risk Factor

    YES / TRUE


    Degree of Isolation

    The staff member or volunteer may have opportunity to be alone with children/youth or vulnerable persons



    Degree of Supervision/Leadership

    The staff member or volunteer has limited or no supervision or is considered a person in a leadership role with authority. Children/Youth and vulnerable persons would have contact with this person and consider them to be an authority figure.



    The activities of the staff member or volunteer are in a place where activities are not observed or monitored



    Access of Property

    The staff member or volunteer may have access to personal property or money of persons served.



    The staff member or volunteer has access to confidential information related to children/youth and vulnerable persons.



    Degree of Physical Contact

    This role requires the staff member or volunteer to have physical contact with children/youth or vulnerable persons?



    Vulnerability of Persons Served

    Persons served have language or literacy barriers.



    Persons served are immobile.



    Persons served have challenges that contribute to their vulnerability (e.g. physical, psychological, and situational.)



    Degree of Physical Demands

    The activity involves potential danger to person served (e.g. rock climbing, using a stove)



    Activity involves potential stress (e.g. children upset by visit to elderly in palliative care)



    Degree of Trust

    The staff member or volunteer develops close, personal relationships with the children/youth or vulnerable persons they serve.



    Parents and care givers entrust children/youth or vulnerable persons into this individuals care, i.e. teaching, visiting, mentoring, tutoring, nursery care



    The position involves transportation of children/youth or vulnerable persons.



    The staff member or volunteer contribute to making career or other important decisions of persons served.



    Degree of Inherent Risk

    The activity heightens potential for the staff member or volunteer  to be in contact with bodily fluids or disease of the person served.



    The activity exposes the person served to operation or handling of the potentially dangerous equipment (e.g. playground equipment, lawnmower)



    The activity exposes the person served to handling toxic substances or results in exposure to poor air quality, noise, etc. (e.g. demolition work in an inner city mission.)





    On Thursday, March 31, 2016, Victoria Bissell said:

    Hi Amy,

    If you email us at info@plantoprotect.com we can provide you a version of that.


    On Sunday, May 3, 2015, Amy said:

    This is an eye opening article. Is there a way to access the risk assessment table in a Word or PDF Document? I wasn't able to copy and paste it into a document without losing the table format.Thanks.


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