Knowing that the task is too big for one person, and the skills needed to be successful are quite varied, we recommend that a committee be formed to bring oversight to Plan to Protect®.
Some of the skills and gifts needed are:
- Leadership, including the ability to make difficult and painful decisions when it is not popular. Also, someone who may be privy to confidential information when approving individuals who will be placed in a position of trust;
- Administration (there is a lot of paperwork and organization required);
- Ability to teach adults and youth in an engaging and inspiring manner;
- Conscientious, to keep to the task and not let the ball drop;
- Discernment, as you will need to listen to that still small voice (and sometimes your gut) to say no to some people who wish to have access to the vulnerable individuals whom you serve.
The committee should be made up of representatives from the Board, staff, parents, and a community member at large. You could look for individuals that have experience in Human Resources, insurance, protection, fire and emergency safety, and adult facilitation training.
Probably the most important reason that we believe it should be a committee versus being delegated to one person is for accountability purposes to make sure that policies are being adhered to and not overwritten or neglected. Sharing the responsibility also ensures that the work is being done; we can hold each other accountable, and this allows us to share the workload.
I (Melodie) currently volunteer in a church that takes Child / Youth / Vulnerable Adult protection very seriously. There are five people that make up the committee. My role is the Trainer and Chair, and I have also customized the policies for the church and secured buy-in and board approval. We have two to three individuals on the committee that do the administration and screening of volunteers, including reference checks and interviews. Finally, we have our Assoc. Pastor on the committee who signs off on all of the volunteer and staff files. He reviews the files to make sure everything is in place and complete (he is the one ‘in the know’ in most cases). Two of our committee members also sit on the Church board, and the other two members (including myself) are representatives of either children’s programming or youth programming.
Finally, these are the responsibilities of our current committee.
- Maintain policy updates
- Call for meetings
- Ensure annual audit is completed
- Prepare and submit Annual General Meeting Report
- Ensure committee members stay on task
- Sign off approval on all files that have been screened (this could also be the role of a Pastor that sits on your committee)
- Problem solve as needed, in consultation with the Board, i.e. Unclear Criminal Record Check (this could also be the role of a Pastor that sits on your committee)
Screening Personnel / Administrator (3 individuals for 140 volunteers and staff)
- Attend Plan to Protect® Committee Meetings
- Process applications
- Conduct interviews with Ministry Leads
- Check References
- Maintain files on each ministry personnel
- Maintain Master List of Screened Personnel — notifying department heads when someone is no longer current
- Process criminal record checks and notify personnel when criminal record checks are needing to be renewed
- Update training notations in files (those attending on-site training and on-line training)
- Maintain database
- Attend Plan to Protect® Committee Meetings
- Provide on-line training options for those unable to attend
- Schedule annual orientation and refresher trainings
- Notify volunteers of training schedule
- Ensure supplies are available for training
- Schedule training room availability
- Take attendance at all training events, submit attendance records to Administrators
- Stay abreast of PowerPoint and training updates
- Maintain Plan to Protect® certification
We highly recommend those responsible for overseeing and coordinating Plan to Protect® at your organization take our Admin/Leader course. This course will help you administer, implement and maintain a strong Plan to Protect® program in your organization. Start off right and stay strong! Couse includes Plan to Protect® 101, Reporting and Response, Customizing Policies, Recruitment and Screening, and Documentation Management.
Finally, risk increases when there is a decrease in accountability and a decrease in adherence to the policies. To decrease risk we need to increase supervision and accountability. We can demonstrate accountability when:
- It is role modeled by paid staff members, Board members and the Plan to Protect® committee.
- Others are made aware of your activities and your whereabouts, particularly when meeting with Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults.
- A strategy for program maintenance will be developed and reviewed at the beginning of each year to ensure training, the updating of files, and the physical environment are compliant with this policy.
- Regular meetings with a Program Lead are arranged to discuss the ongoing nature and actions of the ministry.
- A person is involved in a situation where a boundary is violated, or something occurs that is out of the ordinary or could be misinterpreted, or where such a violation or occurrence is alleged, he or she immediately report it and discuss it with a supervisor. If the Program Lead is unwilling, unable, or unavailable for discussion, he or she should seek out a Board Member or Senior Leader to discuss the issue. Such incidents should be immediately reported to the insurer if appropriate.
- Activities that could easily lead to allegations of abuse or harassment, such as allowing unsupervised Internet access to Children or Youth on computers, vehicle transportation by Personnel alone with an unrelated Child or Youth, or improperly supervised sleepovers, are prohibited without express written permission of at least one Parent of the Child or Youth and the Program Lead.
Let’s role model accountability and reduce the risk of abuse.