Gaining Leadership Support for Improving Child Safety – Part #2
This is the second post in our series, “Gaining Leadership Support for Improving Child Safety”.
In Part #1, we shared some steps on how you can encourage leadership to take child safety and abuse prevention seriously and offer their support. We covered points on why leadership should take an interest, the kind of data to focus on, and some additional safety resources for you to check out.
This week we’re going to look at how to find people that will champion your cause and what you need to do to leverage their knowledge in speaking with leadership. We’ll also discuss how to prepare to answer questions about your efforts, data points to focus on, and what follow up should look like after you’ve presented your proposal. We’ll close with the final Do and Don’t action steps to consider.
Create Alliances – Connect with leadership
Before you present your request, it’s important to find a champion in your organization that understands your request and supports what you are doing. This person(s) is someone who will back you up, ask good questions, defend your request, and have both influence and credibility. When identifying an organizational champion look to current board members, executive leadership, others in peer positions that are in regular contact with leadership, and positive external influences.
Know your Audience – Who’s listening
Once you’ve identified a champion(s), you’ll need to meet with them to gain a good understanding of how your request fits into the overall goals and vision for the organization. During the meeting, it’s best to be prepared to listen more than you speak. Come equipped with questions that:
- Identify any obstacles you may face
- Uncover changes or suggestions that will make your request more relevant and effective
- Seek applicable advice on how to further build your case and assist in presenting to leadership
Questions Anyone? – Answering with confidence
In this next step, preparation is key! Now that you have a good understanding of those you’ll be presenting to make sure you can anticipate and answer any questions that arise. Being prepared, you will be able to answer with confidence. Questions that you may encounter include:
- Can abuse happen in our organization? Everybody knows everybody.
- Child predators aren’t anything like us –why would they target us?
- Our facility is safe –why do we need to do more to protect the kids?
- What’s your primary purpose for trying to affect this change?
- Will the new policy discourage people from volunteering or becoming more involved?
- Will the new policy require a different screening protocol? What is the existing screening process? What will be different about it?
- How often and to what level will individuals have background checks performed? How much will this cost? Is it in your budget? If not, what are you going to cut back on to make this happen?
- How will we know if your initiative is successful? What metrics will you use to measure the success of your program?
Keep it Simple – Communication is key
When you’ve completed your presentation and have successfully received buy off, or perhaps you’re still waiting for a decision on your proposal, you must be sure to share the news of what you’re trying to accomplish. Which means educating staff, volunteers, and the overall member community on the steps you’re taking to improve child safety. Make sure to give regular progress updates to champions and those who support you.
Communication vehicles may include informational meetings, newsletters, social media, emails, bulletins, inserts, flyers, etc. You want the message of your efforts to go far and wide.
Work to continue the conversation long after you have received the approval to move ahead. Leadership needs to see that you’re holding to your commitments. Make sure that you’re communicating at least once a month the positive effects of your efforts. Get parent and child feedback and share it often! Offer to present once a quarter or twice a year on the success your seeing.
Wrapping It Up – Final thoughts
- Research and know your position well.
- Communicate regularly about what you’re trying to accomplish and why.
- Be prepared to answer questions at any time – see list above.
- Set aside time to meet with those who would champion your efforts.
- Make training and communication top initiatives for your organization.
- Keep leadership discussions focused on prevention efforts and the moral and legal responsibility of the organization.
- Second, guess your effort to make child safety and abuse prevention a top priority.
- Buy into the “False Assumptions” of our organization is safe, who would want to target us; I’d know a predator if I saw one.
- Give up! Change is never easy, and anything worth fighting for is worth pursuing.
- Think the changes you’re proposing to increase child protection will be a slam dunk. There will always be opposition. Look at the opposition as an opportunity to start the conversation.
- Forget your responsibility is for the safety of the children, not the angry board member or parent who thinks what your doing is a waste of time.
Once again thank you for your interest in improving child safety! As you begin to make a plan, remember preparation is the key! Preparation will help you to anticipate questions, have confidence in your efforts and stand your ground when needed. Lastly, be sure to measure your success. You’ll need 3-5 metrics that you can present a couple of times a year. Metrics could include a training percentage (how many volunteers/employees have attended training), the number of incidents reports, and perhaps a percentage of background checks completed.
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