The Preventing Abuse seminar that occurred on November 1 was very successful and had a great turnout with attendees from almost every industry. During the seminar, we discussed implementing best practice standards in each of the eight operations closes gaps, decreasing risks, and creating safe environments.
Policies define the bandwidth of acceptable behavior in an organization, and offenders often violate policies in their interactions with clients. When employees can identify policy violations, they are able to interrupt and report them.
2. Screening and Selection
Offenders must have access to clients before they can offend, so organizations should do everything possible to avoid giving access to someone who should not be in a position of trust. Comprehensive screening and selection requires organizations to systematically discover and consider everything they can about applicants.
Offenders often act in predictable ways and effective training can provide employees and volunteers with the information they need to identify high-risk patterns of behavior and high-risk program characteristics.
4. Monitoring and Supervision
When employees and volunteers are adequately supervised, potential offenders are less likely to act on their impulses because they face detection. And when clients receive adequate supervision, they too are less likely to engage in inappropriate interactions with others.
5. Internal Feedback Systems
Information about program operations can identify high-risk programs or individuals; where increased monitoring, supervision and training or policy changes may be needed; or even whether a program should be allowed to continue.
6. Consumer Participation
Educated consumers—both clients and interested others—can contribute to overall safety. But to do so, they must know the organization’s policies and how to respond if they notice policy violations or interactions that make them uncomfortable.
How an organization responds to suspicious or inappropriate interactions or policy violations, and to incidents or allegations of abuse, can dramatically affect the harm to the individual and damage to the organization. Once an organization learns of a concern or allegation about the treatment of a client, swift and determined action, including reports to authorities, must be taken to reduce any subsequent risk of harm.
8. Administrative Practices
The board of directors ultimately owns the responsibility for establishing policies that ensure safety. To do this they must be well informed of the risks the organization embraces in each of its programs and the practices in place to ensure safety. Organization leadership must see to it that programs comply with policies and that drift from standards is quickly remedied.
We also learned that there are some emerging trends that organizations should keep their eyes on.
Background checks are a vital part of the screening and selection process for all youth-serving organizations across all industries. The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), under the federal Department of Health and Human Services, recently reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Under the CCDBG, the new requirements include the following:
1. FBI fingerprint check using Next Generation Identification (the biometric identification system that has replaced the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification system)
2. SEARCH of the National Crime Information Center’s National Sex Offender Registry
3. SEARCH of the following registries, repositories, or databases in the state where the child care staff member resides and each state where such staff member resided during the preceding 5 years:
a. state criminal registry or repository (with the use of fingerprints being required in the state where the staff member resides, and optional in other states),
b. state sex offender registry or repository, and
c. state-based child abuse and neglect registry and database.
Child care providers who are licensed through their state agency, or who are registered or regulated by a state agency, regardless of whether they receive federal funding, must comply with this new background check requirement. However, many states have granted extensions for compliance, so we recommend that you check with the lead agency in your state to determine what currently applies to your organization.
Statutes of Limitations
Many state governments continue to press toward longer statutes of limitations, increasing the time available to file civil suits against individuals and organizations that may have played a role in the abuse. Changes have ranged from dropping the limitations altogether to varying them by the age of the victim, or by when the victim recalled the abuse or became aware of adverse effects. As the statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse civil suits continue to lengthen or be eliminated entirely, the potential financial impact to youth-serving organizations and insurance carriers will increase. Because the statutes can be quite complicated, we recommend you consult with your counsel for an interpretation of the statutes that may be relevant for your particular circumstances.
Here is a self-assessment quick check questionnaire to assist you in identifying areas of opportunity within your organization. The purpose of this seminar was to raise awareness and to help our clients protect those in their care from abuse and help them preserve trust in within their organization.
About the Author
Jim Greaves | Director of Risk Management