Safe Haven is a child and volunteer protection program.
Child Protection has two key components: A Cycle of Intervention and a Cycle of Prevention.
There are four elements in the Safe Haven Intervention Cycle. These are intended to stop child abuse, educate or remove its perpetrators and screen out predators before they get into the program.
- Promote Education and Awareness
- Create Policies
- Screen Volunteers
- Train volunteers
There are eight elements in the Safe Haven Prevention Cycle. These are proactive steps which provide the medium for positive, healthy child development. These steps preclude the outbreak of child abuse in a weak, unfocused, nonempowering environment.
- Foster Meaningful Relationships
- Make Kids Full Participants
- Promote Ethical Behavior
- Model and Teach Conflict Resolution
- Encourage Kids to Speak Out
- Cultivate Kids’ Self-Images
- Implant Excellence in Individual Achievement
- Keep Things FUN
Volunteer protection has three key components: accreditation, education and records.
Accreditation by an authorizing agency attests to and approves our programs as meeting a prescribed standard. Accreditation applies to our programs, the way that they are delivered, and who delivers them. Through accreditation, an outside, credentialed institution grants recognition that we maintain reputable standards. Currently, we are working with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) to ensure that our programs meet the standards approved by institutions of learning across the nation.
Education applies to people and really comes in three distinct, but related activities. There is training, which is job specific; certification, which is AYSO Safe Haven specific; and continuing education, which is standards specific.
Liken it to learning to be a plumber, a teacher, or an attorney. You first go to school to learn your vocation. When you are finished, you are considered trained in your field. However, you still may not practice in most jurisdictions until you have the proper paperwork, permissions, and proof of competence.
As in the above example, the legal or professional group that authorizes you to practice your trade requires you to prove that you know the local codes, restrictions, standards, practices, and policies. This proof is offered through the additional activity of certification. This comes through some specialized, jurisdictional education that is followed by testing or confirmation. This specialized education will vary by vocation; that is, plumbers, teachers, and attorneys are tested and certified by different criteria. In addition, taking the teacher’s certification does not make one qualified to be a plumber or attorney.
In order to maintain a credential, plumbers, teachers, and attorneys must keep up to date on the standards of their professions. For as codes, restrictions, standards, practices, and policies change, these new criteria will be the performance expectations for which they will be held responsible. As standards change, so must practitioners.
We don’t. We focus on using both the Volunteer Protection Act and the Child Protection Act to protect both children and volunteers. In tandem, they provide us with the three layers of protection that volunteers need: training, certification and continuing education.
When I read the Volunteer Protection Act, I don’t see a lot of the elements put into Safe Haven. Where do you come up with your criteria?
Our goal is to protect both children and volunteers, not volunteers alone. Therefore, we have to look at the requirements of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, the Child Protection Act of 1993, the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997, amendments to all these acts, Good Samaritan Laws, the results of trial law, legal opinion and analysis, requirements of insurers, the core philosophies of the organization, and the input of volunteer task forces that have met on these subjects.
Why isn’t there just one risk management class for everyone instead of three or four different certification classes?
In the example of plumbers, teachers, and lawyers above, it’s clear that different roles require different types of certification. Additionally, traditional risk management generally focuses on loss prevention, safety, and liability exclusion. Safe Haven certification is a lot more than that, and we don’t want our efforts to be misconstrued by giving them incorrect names. We are in fact certifying a minimum level of competence in the awareness of AYSO job related standards.
In order to receive full protection under the law and to protect children fully, AYSO volunteers need five things.
- They must be trained, certified, and current on standards (through continuing education);
- They must be performing duties as laid out in a job description;
- They must act within the scope of AYSO’s Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines;
- They must be properly authorized (appointed) to do a job; and
- They need a good paper trail.
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