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  • The countdown’s on - we are weeks away from another program year.  Many organizations take a well-earned break during the summer months but they know they may need to recruit additional staff or volunteers for the Fall. 

    Plan to Protect® recommends an individual’s screening be completed prior to being placed in a position of trust with the vulnerable sector.  Completion means, Applicants who have not fully completed the recruitment and screening process will not begin to serve the vulnerable sector until they are finished.  We recommend that access to the vulnerable sector be limited until final approval is received. 

    A few years ago there was a shooting at the Eaton Centre in Toronto.  The investigation revealed the shooter had been working at a City run community centre for quite some time.  After the fact, it was discovered his Criminal Record Check had never been processed, and the individual did have a history of being known to the police.

    Too often we hear of organization leaders allowing volunteers and staff to have access to the vulnerable sector prior to the screening and training being completed.  We would strongly encourage you not to do this.  We encourage you to contact your insurance company to see if this disqualifies you from abuse coverage – most likely it would.

    Recently, when we were assessing a new client’s policies, we read that orientation training had to take place within the first 12 months of service.  Without training, how will volunteers know what you expect of them, how can they be successful in providing care if they don’t know your expectations? Furthermore, without proper training and screening harm could occur which goes unreported. We believe education is key in preventing abuse and injuries from happening. 

    Screening is one of the primary ways of demonstrating due diligence. Due diligence is anticipating the worst-case scenario and planning to prevent this outcome through risk avoidance measures. When we fully screen and train our volunteers and staff we are demonstrating we are doing everything we can to prevent abuse from happening. 

    The insurance industry has identified that organizations that service the vulnerable sector are at risk of abuse.  Many of our clients remind me often that everything they do is high risk.  If that is correct, then we encourage you to take special precautions not to place individuals into a position of trust unless they have been fully screened and trained.

    A position of trust is any position that requires its holder to enjoy the trust of those who elected or chose the holder. It includes any role wherein parents and or guardians have entrusted their loved one to your care i.e. teachers, helpers, assistants, supervisors, directors, leaders, caregivers, sponsors, etc. A position of trust, in legal terms, refers to a situation where one person holds a position of authority over another person and uses that position to his or her advantage to commit a crime or to injure the victim in some way. Liability for abuse of this position is not limited to criminal prosecution, and in some cases, a civil lawsuit may be brought as well.

    Limited access means NO access!  At the bear minimum, limited access means restricted access unless a parent or legal guardian is present.  Please don’t entrust candidates who have not been approved to work with the vulnerable sector into a position of trust. 

    For many years, I worked as an Executive Director of a children’s charity.  We would hold fundraising banquets and events.  At the end of an event, we would count the monies collected with two or three people signing off on it.  This money would then be deposited into the bank; receipted to donors; bank statements reconciled, and an External Auditor would audit our books and report to the membership.  Again, there would be many people involved in protecting against fraud or theft. Do our children, youth, individuals with disabilities and our elderly not deserve this same level of care and oversight? 

    So, with this in mind, what are some of the do’s and don’ts of screening staff and volunteers?

    DO’s:

    • Do develop a screening process that everyone will follow within your organization.
    • Do put into place a screening committee, which will hold each other accountable.
    • Do take the time necessary to screen your staff and volunteers with applications, interviews, reference checks, and vulnerable sector checks. 
    • Do provide Plan to Protect® Orientation training prior to placement.
    • Do provide the candidate a copy of your Plan to Protect® policy and ask them to sign a Covenant of Care.
    • Do assign someone in leadership to review the completed application file and sign off approval.
    • Do restrict access to individuals who have not completed the screening process.
    • Do consider a six-month waiting period for those new to your community or secure at least three reference checks. 

    DON’Ts

    • Don’t have workers working with the vulnerable sector without having completed the screening process.
    • Don’t overlook the importance of annual training for all staff and volunteers.
    • Don’t assume that professionals are trained and screened to the same standard as Plan to Protect®.  (Note: Two of my children have teaching degrees and my third child took Early Childhood Education.  With the exception of Plan to Protect® training they received, they received very little to no additional training on abuse prevention)
    • Don’t ignore the importance of auditing your procedures to ensure that all workers are screened and trained.
    • Don’t just limit access. Instead, restrict access unless a parent or legal guardian is present.
    • Don’t let the application process take more than three months.  If it does begin again with new references, interviews, and a new Vulnerable Sector Verification.
    • Don’t overlook an unclear Criminal Record Check or a flagged Vulnerable Sector Verification.  

    At Plan to Protect® we can take away the burden of screening and training volunteers and staff by providing many of these services.  To request a quote for our services including Police Record Checks, Initial Screening (Reference Checks) and Training contact info@plantoprotect.com

    Comment

    On Thursday, October 25, 2018, Lily LeBlanc said:

    What level of First aid training is required for working with the vulnerable sector and where can I find this documentation of requirements.

    I was informed that it was Standard first aid ( 2 day training) with CPR level C witch includes infant child and adult. I cannot find the document stating this.

    Could you please assist me with finding any printed documentation on First aid training requirements for working with the vulnerable sector.

    I believe a Municipal bi-law came out in 2015 stating that working with youth or the vulnerable sector required Standard first aid with level C CPR.

    Any links or information you can find would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you Lily

     

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