Screening practices help define the relationship between people and organisations and increase both the quality and safety of programs and services in communities. Screening takes into account the skills, experience, and qualifications that are required for an assignment and puts in place an ongoing process to engage people best suited to fill the role. It also allows organisations to explore the interests, motivations, and personal goals of applicants. Screening puts in place touchstones, throughout a volunteer’s involvement, that support mutual benefit while reducing risk for everyone concerned. The benefits of screening are threefold:
Screening practices play a critical role for organisations in fulfilling their moral, legal, and ethical responsibilities to all those they reach, including members, clients, participants, employees, and volunteers. This obligation is even greater when they are working with vulnerable people, including children, youth, people with disabilities, and senior adults. Every organisation has a unique set of considerations, depending upon its mandate, the population it serves, the nature of its activities, and the jurisdiction in which it is located. Each position within an organisation has a unique set of requirements, risks, and benefits. Boards of Directors need to establish screening policies that address the range of roles and circumstances within the organisation.
Organisations should have comprehensive and ongoing screening practices in place that recognise the importance and value of all the relevant steps in determining the right fit for an assignment. To rely solely on Garda Vetting as the only screening protocol is to ignore other important and valuable sources of relevant information. Screening practices begin when an opportunity is created in an organisation. They are the basis of the selection process and continue throughout an individual’s involvement. The following ten steps provide clear guidelines for developing screening policies and practices that reflect an organisation’s commitment to safe and meaningful engagement.
An assessment of the programme, activity, position, and assignment to determine:
Tips for Assessment of Risks
Assessing the potential risks of a position involves identifying:
Role descriptions clearly articulate bona fide requirements and level of risk that were identified during the assessment.
Tips for Writing Position / Assignment Descriptions
Volunteer Position / Assignment
Recruitment plans and practices need to be carefully planned and clearly communicated that include selection systems that are:
Tips for Designing Recruitment Strategies
Recruitment strategies need to reflect:
A standardised application form is used for all volunteer positions and assignments that:
Tips for the Application Process
An information sheet or package can be provided to candidates about:
An interview provides an opportunity to talk with candidates about their skills, interests, qualifications, and personal goals to help determine if there is a potential match within the organisation.
Tips for Interviews
References need to be checked in accordance with the requirements of the position or assignment and in compliance with relevant legislation including human rights, protection of privacy, and access to information. The standing of regulated professionals should be verified.
Tips for Checking References
Depending upon the whether the role involves access to children or vulnerable persons, Garda Vetting may be requested to help assess the suitability of an applicant.
Considerations about Garda Vetting
Orientation and Training can be done in groups and / or on an individual basis to provide information and continue to assess the suitability of the match.
Group sessions can provide an opportunity to observe an applicant’s interpersonal skills, ability to work with others, and demonstrated understanding and acceptance of the organisation’s mission, values, and policies.
Tips for Orientation and Training
Orientation provides general information:
Orientation and Training Practices
Ongoing support and supervision are an essential part of ensuring that the match between people and assignments continues to be mutually beneficial, to maintain and improve quality and safe programs and services, and to reduce risks and liabilities.
Lack of adequate support and supervisionmay constitute a breach of the standard of care expected of an organisation and a court ruling of negligence, holding the organisation liable for any harm done to individuals as a result.
Tips for Supervision and Support
A clear follow-up system with programme participants is an important part of monitoring the suitability of the match, the quality of the programs and services, and exposure to risks and liabilities.
All parties, including participants, paid employees, and other volunteers, need to know who they can contact if they are concerned about the actions or inactions of a volunteer.
Tips for Follow-up and Feedback