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- Sex offenders are a real issue in today’s society, and can definitely be prevalent among volunteers, which is why you should make a decision matrix on what offenses in volunteers you find acceptable.
- A decision matrix - a form that is usually used to create company policy - is a form with a list of offenses that a company reviews to standardize which offenses are acceptable or not.
- Once you have created your decision matrix, your organization can begin to create a policy for your volunteers to follow.
- Knowing how to screen correctly and what to look for, when using a company policy, will equip your organizations with the tools and knowledge to make the best choice and get the best volunteers to represent your organization.
Aren’t youth sports great? Waking up early on those Saturday mornings, learning all you can from your coach, and gearing up to play your sport. There’s so much nostalgia that goes along with it. So don’t we want the same for our children? Don’t we want to give them the opportunity to have that great experience, build that nostalgia, and learn important life lessons from having a great coach? Then it all starts by implementing a volunteer screening policy so you can know everything you need to about the coaches you’re bringing around your children.
Importance of a Volunteer Screening Policy?
Screening volunteers has started to become more and more popular. But not every organization does it or realize why they should be screening volunteers (i.e. youth sports coaches). It’s sometimes missed that coaches are volunteers, and they need to be treated as such. In the many years Validity has been around our company has seen multiple cases for why organizations should be screening volunteers, and what it truly comes down to is safety. Volunteer coaches are great, and we always need more, but it’s important to know who’s coaching your children.
Volunteers are needed for many different tasks, serving food, helping the elderly, and sometimes dealing with children. If you have a volunteer working with children, it is in your best judgement to find out as much as you can about that volunteer. You don’t want to bring in a coach to work with children when that coach may have a checkered past.
Why You Need to Know Who Your Youth Coaches Really Are
It’s a topic that’s not fun to talk about…but sex offenders is a real issue. You can only hope that it will never affect the kids playing in your community’s youth sports. But with a volunteer screening service it can turn that hoping into certainty. For volunteer managers, keeping sex offenders away from those that you help and protect in the community is something that most of us can agree on as a priority. However, it isn’t always obvious how to go about screening sex offenders from the volunteer pool. State sex offender registries are publicly available and often accessible through local news websites or other state-run websites. While volunteer managers could, and should, use these resources as part of their volunteer screening practices, there are a few things that you should know before diving in head first.
The sex offender registry is broken down into a three-tiered system. Tier I includes the lesser offenses, and Tier III being the most serious.
Common offenses included in sex offender registries:
- Sexual assault
- Child sexual abuse
- Corrupting a minor
- Public urination*
*It’s important to note that each state has subtle differences in what offenses end up on the sex offender registry, even what tier they belong in - much like the difference in felony/misdemeanor classifications from state to state. So, while public urination may show up in one state’s registry, it may not in another.
How to Get Your Policy Started
How do you know where to start when creating a policy for the standards you want upheld for your volunteers? Start with a decision matrix. A decision matrix - a form that is usually used to create company policy - is a form with a list of offenses that a company reviews to standardize which offenses are acceptable or not. When filling out the decision matrix you base your decision on unique requirements of the organization and all applicable federal, state, and municipal laws and regulations. Once you have created your decision matrix, your organization can begin to create a policy for your volunteers to follow. Once that policy is in place, your organization will know how to handle the information you receive when screening your volunteers.
Need a decision matrix? Check out an example below, and for the full decision matrix please click below to download.
Safety should be the number one priority when running an organization. Having that peace of mind and knowing that everyone will be ok is what you gain when you screen volunteers. But screening is only half the battle. Knowing how to screen correctly and what to look for, when using a company policy, will equip your organizations with the tools and knowledge to make the best choice and get the best volunteers to represent your organization.
Want to know more about this topic? Then check out the episode, “Volunteer Screening”, from our podcast “The Water Cooler Podcast”! For more great content and to listen to fun office topics follow the links below to subscribe to our podcast. To learn more, or if you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.