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  • The old saying “two heads are better than one.” references the concept that two people are more likely to solve a problem or think of an idea than one person working alone. This same thought applies to the work of abuse prevention.  Not only does the phrase apply to solving problems and thinking of new ideas, but it also captures the concept of accountability, which is critical to achieving a high standard of protection. 

    I am extremely concerned about the blind trust many organizations place on individuals who have are assigned to a task of protecting our vulnerable persons (children, youth, and vulnerable adults). 

    Terry Carter, states, “Board members should be aware that they could be exposed to personal liability if they permit their organization to work with children or other vulnerable persons where the board has failed to implement an appropriate abuse prevention policy that has been customized to reflect the specifics of their organization. Failure to follow the protocol set out in the abuse prevention policy could also lead to liability, so it is important that an organization that has the foresight to implement a policy also makes sure that the policy is strictly followed.”   Terrance Carter of Carters Professional Corporation

    Two of the most important steps in implementing an abuse prevention strategy and achieving a high standard of protection are supervision and holding policy audits.

    Once the Board has formally approved the protection policies, exceptions should only be made if a provision has been made or identified by the Board.  In other words, no one person should circumvent the policies or make exceptions to the policies unless the policies allow for exceptions.  These exceptions should be included in the policies with the process that is to be followed.  

    Accountability is most critical in the situation of fulfilling your duty to report abuse.  No persons, including Senior Leaders and Board members, are to assume the function of assessing, substantiating or investigating the need for intervention or interpretation of suspected child abuse. 

    There must not be any undue interference when a report of child abuse has been filed with child protection authorities or the police. The Senior Director or his designate should ask the child protection authorities how they can assist in helping and supporting the investigation and the hurting Child or Youth and their family.  

    Too often, I see organizations that have put policies in place but individuals unilaterally wish to make exceptions to the policies.  There is undue influence and leaders that do not role model accountability to the Board. 

    Too often, I see organizations that have put policies in place but individuals unilaterally wish to make exceptions to the policies.  There is undue influence and leaders that do not role model accountability to the Board.  

    I would like to see every organization that services the vulnerable sector to have at least one person with the portfolio of “abuse prevention / vulnerable sector protection.” This role or as you will soon see roles (depending on the size of the organization) should report their activities to Senior Leadership and eventually as a report submitted at the Annual General Meeting for the Board and the Members of the Corporation.  The amount of human resource hours dedicated to this role would also be dependent on the number of vulnerable persons you are serving, the number of staff and volunteers you have and your budget constraints. 

    In an effort to increase accountability join us next week as we will share the roles and responsibilities of Committee Members. 

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