The “Why” and “How” of Screening for Safety – A Webinar Recap
Last week KidCheck hosted a free webinar on the benefits of Comprehensive Screening. The webinar was designed to provide leaders with an overview of how to effectively evaluate individuals that are receiving direct access to children.
Comprehensive screening acts as a deterrent for bad behavior provides a layer of protection for families, staff, your organization, and eliminates easy access to children.
Importance of Culture
A discussion on culture and the safety benefits of creating one that is consistent, proactive, and encourages transparency all help to improve child safety. As a leader, you cannot be everywhere at once, so it’s important that your team members feel empowered if they see something to say something.
Top Risks to Child and Youth Centered Organizations
Highlighted where the top risks that involve volunteers, staff, and leadership. Included were the most common false assumptions, the lack of a child protection policy, incomplete vetting of staff, and allegations of sexual abuse.
Benefits of Comprehensive Screening and the Seven Steps
Emphasized were the foundational principles that comprehensive screening allows for multi-dimensional screening, bubbles up need-to-know information, establishes due diligence, and eliminates easy access to children.
The seven steps included a written application, background check, face-to-face interview, references, social media check, a motor vehicle report, and establishing a waiting period for our friends in ministry.
Covered was the process for youth screening for those working directly with children and how it should follow the same seven steps as the adult process minus the background check. Key guidelines were shared, such as never putting a minor in charge of other minors and never leaving a child alone with an unsupervised youth volunteer.
Training and Development
It’s a process that never ends, is unique to each organization, and plays an important role in improving child safety. Whether you choose to train twice a year or in a weekly 10-minute standing meeting, the goal is to keep educating and informing volunteers, staff, and leadership about working guidelines for interacting with children.
Child Protection Policy
The Child Protection Policy (CPP) is a very big topic, so we touched on it briefly. Discussed were the CPP’s role and importance as a working set of guidelines that define how an organization intends to protect and care for the children it serves.
Highlighted were the two main goals and benefits of any CPP. The goals are to decrease isolation and increase accountability, and the benefits include create a safer environment, defines guidelines for responding & reporting abuse, and provides the opportunity to discuss abuse prevention.
Listed below are a few of the attendee questions asked during Q & A.
We are a gym, and we offer childcare for two hours, which also includes swimming lessons where we use young instructors. Does the screening process apply to us as well?
Yes, comprehensive screening applies to anyone coming in direct and consistent contact with children and should include a process for youth instructors too.
Regarding the confidentiality of background checks – who should have access to the report, and what are the best practices for preventing leaks about information which may show up?
All candidate information must be secure and locked location, either in hard copy or digital form. Individuals who have access to the information must understand the importance of keeping it private, meaning the fewer the people that have access to the private information, the better.
What is a social media release form?
A social media release form grants authorization for a hiring party to view a candidate’s use of social media platforms. The information helps to determine if a candidate is a good fit for the organization.
The social media waiver or release should be turned in with the completed written application.
What if the candidate is not on social media, is that a red flag?
Not participating in social media is not considered a red flag. However, you will need to make sure you follow up on both the personal and institutional references as they can paint a good picture of this candidate’s previous work history with kids and youth.
What is the recommended age difference between youth workers and the minors they are supervising?
We recommend a maximum of four years difference. Anything greater than four years drastically changes the balance of power. It’s also helpful to pay attention to program ratios. Ratios are a key element of supervision, especially when youth are involved.
Is it a concern if someone says no to the social media release form?
Yes, most candidates understand that when they are applying to work directly with children, there is a certain amount of scrutiny involved. If someone says no, you have every right to ask why or share with the candidate that the social media evaluation is part of completing the overall process, and without it, the assessment would be incomplete therefore eliminating them for consideration.
Thank you for taking the time to attend the webinar. We hope that it raised awareness, provided useful information, and offered additional resources that can assist in eliminating easy access to children, establish due diligence, and function as a deterrent for would-be offenders.
For additional webinars, keep your eyes open as we’ll be offering one more for 2019, which is Predator Proofing Your Organization.
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