Safeguarding Policy, October 2019
The Woodcraft Canada Personal Safety and Prevention of Abuse Policy
Minor: A person of age 0-18 is referred to in this policy as “Minor” Child A person of age 0-13 is referred to in this policy as “Child”
Youth: A person of age 14-17 is referred to in this policy as “Youth”
Position of Trust Includes youth leader, or any volunteer who works directly with youth.
This Safeguarding policy applies to all volunteers, helpers, members, staff, including senior managers, sessional workers, freelancers and General Council members or anyone working or volunteering on behalf of Woodcraft Canada. The purpose of this policy:
- to protect children and young people who attend Woodcraft Canada groups and events
- to provide volunteers and staff with the overarching principles that guide Woodcraft Canada’s approach to safeguarding and child protection
What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding children is defined in Working together to safeguard children as:
- protecting children from maltreatment
- preventing impairment of children’s health or development
- ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
- taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes Charities which work with children must always act in their best interests and ensure they take all reasonable steps to prevent harm to them.
Please see the safeguarding checklist for a list of minimum safeguarding requirements e.g. supervision ratios, risk assessments, screening, training and other actions which create a safe environment for all.
Child protection is part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. Child protection refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm e.g. referral, support plans and other intervention.
Woodcraft Canada’s Commitment
Woodcraft Canada believes that a child or young person should never experience abuse of any kind, that they should be supported to feel comfortable and confident when participating in our activities and the wider society.
Woodcraft Canada have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people and to keep them safe. Woodcraft Canada are committed to practice in a way that protects children and supports them to engage in activities that support our core values.
Woodcraft Canada will not tolerate any behaviour which may harm children or young people emotionally, physically or psychologically. Such behaviour includes physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse, bullying, harassment, undue or harsh criticism or violence directed towards individuals or groups. Woodcraft Canada will take serious measures against any volunteer or staff member found in violation of this policy. Woodcraft Canada strive to maintain a culture of honesty and openness, supporting children and young people to work co-operatively with adults to identify what they consider likely to affect them and their safety.
Children have said that they need:
- Vigilance: to have adults notice when things are troubling them
- Understanding and action: to understand what is happening; to be heard and understood; and to have that understanding acted upon
- Stability: to be able to develop an ongoing stable relationship of trust with those helping them Respect: to be treated with the expectation that they are competent rather than not Information and engagement: to be informed about and involved in procedures, decisions, concerns and plans
- Explanation: to be informed of the outcome of assessments and decisions and reasons when their views have not met with a positive response
- Support: to be provided with support in their own right as well as a member of their family Advocacy: to be provided with advocacy to assist them in putting forward their views
- Protection: to be protected against all forms of abuse and discrimination and the right to special protection and help if a refugee
Woodcraft Canada recognise that:
the welfare of the child is paramount:
- all children, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity, have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse
- some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues
- working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare.
Woodcraft Canada’s underlying safeguarding principle is that all members (children, young people and adult volunteers) should be protected at all times from behaviour and attitudes they find uncomfortable. To achieve this aim:
- The needs of the children and young people are central to all activity planning
- Open communication with members of all ages and effective planning will support safeguarding of children, young people and adults
- Anyone has the right to speak out about behaviour and attitudes they find uncomfortable, they know who they should speak to in advance and be confident they will be listened to
- Woodcraft Canada must nominate one adult member to take the lead on safeguarding issues and to lead the implementation of this policy.
- Groups of children and young people should be supervised by a minimum of 2 adult members
- Physical contact should be instigated by the child or young person, and should be relevant to their needs or safety
- Appropriate screening and checks need to be undertaken by all adults regularly working with children, but these are only effective when supported by good communication, training and ongoing observation.
- All volunteers and staff receive appropriate Safeguarding training relevant to their role in the Woodcraft Canada Risk assessments must be completed for all venues and activity types
- Personal details of members, children and young people are held securely in accordance with Woodcraft Canada’s data protection policy
Woodcraft Canada are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually.
This policy concerns Woodcraft Canada activities at which we provide volunteers to care for and supervise minors. At events where we do NOT provide staff or volunteers for these purposes, the event organizers must make it clear in all communications that the responsibility for the care and supervision of minors and vulnerable adults will rest with parents and guardians or their designates.
All staff and volunteers who work in a Position of Trust during activities with minors are required to meet the following qualifications prior to commencement of their duties. Those who do will be referred to as “screened volunteers” in this document. All screened volunteers must sign a statement acknowledging that they have reviewed this policy and agree to abide by its provisions.
1.1 Be at least 15 years of age.
1.2 Provide the original of a police Vulnerable Sector Check at least every three years. The Vulnerable Sector Check should be used for volunteers age 18 or more. A police Criminal Record Check may be used for volunteers age 16 or 17. See the Police Records Check policy for more details.
1.3 Be interviewed and provide two references if a first-time volunteer.
1.5 Be provided with initial and annual refresher training that covers relevant safeguarding policies and procedures with emphasis on the definition and prevention of different forms of abuse and improper discipline, and the legal responsibility to report actual or alleged incidents.
1.6 Have a signed application form (volunteer contract form) confirming release for police background checks and agreement to follow all organization policies and procedures including the prohibition of verbal, emotional and physical abuse or sexual involvement with minors and vulnerable adults.
1.7 Repeat steps 1.1 through 1.6 above if a once-active individual who has ceased participation in the organization for a period of greater than six months and wishes to re-establish a relationship to the organization community in a position of trust with minors or vulnerable adults.
2.2 Any concerns that arise from non-adherence to this Policy should be brought to the attention of the Safeguarding Officer and if her or she is not available, to the attention of the Chair of the Board.
Whose responsibility is it?
All volunteers, helpers and adult members are responsible for:
- Being familiar with safeguarding policy and child protection procedures
- Ensuring parents, carers, children and young people are aware of the organisation’s safeguarding policy and procedures
- Share concerns promptly with their Local/Event Safeguarding Officer
The Safeguarding Officer is responsible for:
- Being familiar with local Safeguarding procedures
- Co-ordinating safeguarding training on a local level
Keeping safeguarding on the agenda, creating space for discussion
- Acting as the first point of contact for volunteers concerned about the safety and welfare of a child
- Contacting children’s social care in cases where a child is at risk of harm
- Ensuring that all volunteers know where they can find the safeguarding policy, local safeguarding plan and child protection procedures
- To support volunteers after they have shared their concerns about a child
- To liaise with appropriate local agencies for support and advice and keep a list of local contacts
- Developing safeguarding policy and procedures
- Advising and providing guidance to staff and volunteers concerned about a child protection issue
- Communicating to staff and volunteers any changes in policy and procedures
- Creating an environment which encourages all members to discuss concerns
- Training staff and volunteers about how to respond to child protection concerns
- Keeping accurate records of concerns about children and actions taken
- Collecting monitoring data on all safeguarding activities across the organisation
- Ensuring that the organisation meets the requirements of its insurers regarding its safeguarding responsibilities
- Promoting the importance of safeguarding across the organisation
- Managing complaints about poor practice of either staff or volunteers
- Making decisions about appointing someone who has a criminal record
- Carrying out risk assessments to assess the suitability of adults to work with children and young people
General Council is responsible for:
- Nominating a lead Trustee for safeguarding
- Nominating a Lead Safeguarding Officer and deputy
- Overseeing the Members Safeguarding Review Group
- Ensuring effective reporting of serious incidents to the Charity Commission and other relevant bodies
- Evaluating the effectiveness of safeguarding within the organisation
- Reviewing and updating the organisation’s policy and procedures on safeguarding every year
When assessing levels of risk, it is important to note the various aspects of a situation that contribute to that risk. Our policies reflect these levels of risk.
In all contexts, children and youth, by wont of their age and for young children, their size, are vulnerable to adults. In addition, adults naturally assume and receive a level of authority over children and youth in our society and consequently in all interactions. It is important that adults who take on roles of advisory or teaching with children and/or youth are aware of this.
In situations outside of weekly meetings and special events at our main location, such as youth gatherings and sleepovers, the level of vulnerability is also raised.
With the above in mind, we have developed the following policies and procedures regarding promoting and maintaining personal safety:
There will always be at least two staff or screened volunteers assigned to any room with minors. Both screened volunteers must be age 18 or more. In an emergency, such as illness, it is permissible to have only one of the two adults be screened as long as the room has a window and is regularly checked by a staff person or other screened volunteer. The appropriate ratio of youth to screened adult leaders must not exceed 8:1
Caregivers shall have easy access to a phone and a first aid kit. Caregivers shall also receive information about childcare and emergency procedures at each location. A summary information sheet for caregivers shall be readily available. Under the direction of the Safeguarding officer, each classroom will conduct a fire safety and evacuation drill on an annual basis and discuss a safety plan.
Communication between youth and volunteers. No emails or phone calls are permitted between adult volunteers and youth who are in Grade 8 or under even with parental approval. Emails and phone calls are permitted between adult volunteers and youth who are in Grade 9 or higher with parental approval and if parents are copied on emails and participate in phone calls. There may be exceptions for persons with nontypical communication circumstances to be approved by the safeguarding officer.
SPECIFIC PROVISIONS FOR YOUTH TRIPS, OVERNIGHTS, AND RETREATS
A parent or guardian must sign permission slips when children or teens under the age of 18 are leaving the premises by vehicle, as well as for overnights or on retreats. Activity leaders will compile a list of names, emergency contacts, and medical conditions, to be kept with them at all times during the activity or trip. A copy of this list will also be kept on file in with the safeguarding officer.
If a child or teen does not have a signed permission form from their parent or guardian, they will not be allowed to participate in the scheduled event.
There must be a minimum of two screened volunteers with the group or the activity will be canceled. The volunteers must be at least age 25 and must have been vetted according to all criteria established in this policy.
When driving to and from activities, including youth group meetings, by screened volunteers, there must be at least two volunteers in the car with any minors. Volunteers must have a full license to serve as drivers for offsite activities or trips. Drivers who are formally associated with Woodcraft Canada must have appropriate driver’s insurance with no less than $1,000,000 in liability coverage.
Children and teens on field trips, overnights, or retreats are required to follow the instructions of adult activity leaders regarding emergency and safety concerns. Participants will respect property, activity rules, and each other during activities.
A first aid kit will accompany all groups taking field trips, on overnights, or retreats.
Any person who observes or suspects that a minor under the age of 16 is experiencing or may be experiencing physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect, or risk of harm shall immediately fulfill statutory reporting obligations to child protection agencies or police authorities. Any person who is concerned that a 16-or 17- year-old is or may be in need of protection may, but is not required to, make a report to a child protection agency.
For information concerning the definition of abuse and the delegation of the legal responsibility to report and protection of confidentiality, see “The Definition of Abuse and The Legal Duty to Report Known or Suspected Cases of Child/Youth Abuse or Neglect and the Right to Confidentiality of the Reporter” appended to this policy.
Subject to the requirements below there is no obligation to share the reported concern with any other member of the Woodcraft community.
Any person who observes or suspects that a minor is experiencing or may be experiencing physical, sexual or emotional abuse while attending Woodcraft meetings or a Woodcraft event, in addition to the requirement detailed in Section 8.1 above, shall also immediately provide a written report of their concern to the Safeguarding Officer.
Once in receipt of a written report described in number 8.4 above the Safeguarding Oifficer shall share the report with the Char if the Board of Directors. It is the intent of sharing this information to provide support to all involved and to take whatever steps are necessary to limit the civil liability of the Woodcraft Canada, it’s volunteers and directors.
Woodcraft Canada will also maintain confidentiality for the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator, suspend the alleged perpetrator pending the outcome of investigation, and consult a lawyer and report the incident to our insurance company.
I confirm that I have read and understand my responsibilities with regard to safeguarding children and young people taking part in Woodcraft Canada activities.
I confirm that I have never received criminal convictions for offences involving abuse against children, nor am I subject to any such investigation. I have no other criminal convictions which might render me unsuitable to work with young people or pose a risk to the welfare of children and young people.
I confirm that I am not barred from working with children and young people or barred by association.
I understand that any such proceedings or convictions could result in suspension or expulsion from the Woodcraft Canada subject to the organisation’s procedures.
Signed: ________________________________________ Dated: __________________
Summary of information obtained from the CAS, the CCAS and other social workers.
The Definition of Abuse.
All suspicions of child abuse or neglect, regardless of whether they occur or are suspected at a Woodcraft Canada event or elsewhere, must be reported directly to a Children’s Aid Society, as it is their exclusive mandate, under the Child and Family Services Act, to investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect and to deliver child protection services. Perhaps you witness bruising or wounds. Perhaps a child shares a situation they are experiencing at home or at school that sounds suspicious. If you find yourself asking the question, “Should I say anything about this?” the answer is yes!
Learn how to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. Child abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse and/or neglect. It also addresses a pattern of abuse and risks of harm.
The following are common definitions:
Physical abuse is any deliberate physical force or action, by a parent or caregiver, which results, or could result, in injury to a child.
Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide basic needs such as adequate food, sleep, safety, education, clothing or medical treatment. It also includes leaving a child alone or failing to provide adequate supervision.
Emotional abuse is a pattern of behaviour that attacks a child’s emotional development and sense of self-worth. It includes excessive, aggressive or unreasonable demands that place expectations on a child beyond his or her capacity.
Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used for the sexual gratification of an adult or an older child. The child may co-operate because he or she wants to please the adult or out of fear.
The Legal Duty to Report Known or Suspected Cases of Child/Youth Abuse or Neglect and the Right to Confidentiality of the Reporter.
- There is no legislated guarantee of confidentiality concerning the duty to report. However, a referral source may request that his or her identity be kept confidential from the family or express a desire to remain anonymous to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).
- When a referral source requests that his or her identity be kept confidential from the family, the Child Protection Worker (CPW) will explain to the referral source that, while every effort will be made to protect a person’s identity, they may be identified through evidence given in court or if subpoenaed to provide evidence in court. If a referral source has provided her/his name/phone number to CAS, that information will be identified in court documents as required when court papers are drawn up. The CAS needs good, solid grounds to intervene in a child’s life and the original referral source is crucial to those grounds.
The law DOES protect a referral source from liability if a civil action (lawsuit) is brought against the referral source for making a report as long as the report was not made maliciously or without reasonable grounds for the suspicion.
It should also be noted that even when the CPW protects the referral source’s identity, members of the child’s family may already know or be able to guess the identity of the referral source. The CPW, however, will not confirm this to the family.
- When a referral source does not provide his or her identifying information to the CPW, the CPW will inform the referral source that totally anonymous complaints may prevent the acquisition of important, additional information in the future.
- Reporting by the Minister or Life-Long Learning Professional on behalf of a volunteer. CAS says that it is always preferable for the report to come directly from the person who has observed or suspects the abuse or neglect. However, it is much better to have a report from the Minister or Lifespan Learning Professional on behalf of a volunteer than to have no report at all and the CAS will act upon such reports.
- Are persons who do not report (directly or indirectly via the Minister or Lifespan Learning Professional) a known or suspected case of abuse or neglect subject to penalties of any sort (fine or jail sentence)? Volunteers are not subject to such penalties. If the person has a professional responsibility to report (social worker, teacher, health professional, etc.), monetary fines may be imposed