CHILD ABUSE-NEGLECT POLICIES/PROTOCOLS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I--Introduction Boys Hope Girls Hope is committed to providing a safe, secure and nurturing environment for all program participants and therefore has a zero tolerance for abuse and neglect. Abuse or neglect of any program participant is unacceptable. Any person who is accused of abuse or neglect, substantiated or unsubstantiated, may be removed from the program until an investigation is completed. Boys Hope Girls Hope may terminate any employee or volunteer services of anyone who has abused/neglected a child. Boys Hope Girls Hope may also discharge any scholar found to be abusing another person.
II--Definitions Child Abuse and Neglect includes, but is not limited to (depending on state statutes and their definitions), harm or threat of harm through intentional physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, maltreatment or the failure to provide for the basic needs of the child regarding food, shelter, medical care and/or supervision.
Physical Abuse is defined as any act which, regardless of intent, results in non-accidental physical injury.
Physical Neglect is defined as the failure to provide for a child’s physical survival needs to the extent that there is harm or risk of harm to the child’s health or safety. This may include, but is not limited to, the following: abandonment, lack of supervision, life-endangering lack of physical hygiene, lack of adequate nutrition, lack of shelter, or lack of medical or dental care that results in health threatening conditions.
Sexual Abuse is defined as acts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of minors by adults. Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, any inappropriate sexual contact for sexual gratification, such as the touching of the clothed or unclothed intimate parts of a minor. Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, such acts as pornography or indecent exposure. Scholar-to-scholar sexual contact, be it consensual or nonconsensual, may be defined as sexual abuse depending on the circumstances and state statutes.
Emotional Abuse includes verbal assaults, prolonged ignoring and indifference or constant interpersonal conflict.
Though Boys Hope Girls Hope is concerned about protecting the rights of everyone involved in an alleged incident of abuse or neglect, the organization is primarily concerned with the protection and welfare of the alleged victim of such abuse or neglect. Secondarily, Boys Hope Girls Hope is concerned about the following, in this order:
Protection of other potential victims.
Cooperation with agencies responsible for investigating instances of suspected abuse or neglect.
Protection of the reputation of Boys Hope Girls Hope.
Help for the person alleged to have caused the abuse or neglect.
The first line of defense against child abuse and neglect is prevention. Without exception, all potential staff members and volunteers must be screened according to the guidelines established by Boys Hope Girls Hope International and the local licensing authority. If an applicant’s background investigation reveals a history of committing child abuse or neglect, violent or aggressive behavior, substance abuse without documented evidence of successful rehabilitation, or propensities to sexual acting out, then the applicant must be rejected.
All staff, volunteers and scholars are to be educated about child abuse and neglect, following state requirements in this regard. They will know that aggressive discipline is not permitted and that certain types of touching are inappropriate (see BHGH policies on “Physical and Emotional Boundaries” in the PPGPO). Boys Hope Girls Hope is not only concerned with potential employee-to-scholar abuse, but also potential scholar-to-scholar abuse and abuse by, or of, persons not directly affiliated with the organization.
Being in a room alone with a scholar without visual supervision from outside the room is not permitted. Scholars are to be made aware that they are never permitted in the bedroom or bathroom of a staff member; that a staff member or scholar is not permitted in their room with the door closed; and that they are to report any behavior which is inappropriate in these areas by a staff member, volunteer or other scholar to the Program administrator (i.e., Program Director, Program Manager, House Manager, Academy Program Director/Manager, or other person in a supervisory role over BHGH programming) or Executive Director.
B) Guidelines for Reporting Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect All employees and volunteers shall be familiar with the requirements in their state for reporting suspected abuse and neglect, better known as “mandated reporter” laws. All employees and volunteers are expected to abide by the applicable regulations in addition to the requirements of this policy. Where there is a conflict regarding reporting protocols between state/local regulatory requirements and this policy, the more stringent requirements shall rule.
Any Boys Hope Girls Hope employee, volunteer or scholar who has reasonable cause to suspect that a scholar is a victim of neglect or serious bodily injury, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation by any person, including a Boys Hope Girls Hope employee, volunteer or scholar, shall immediately report this matter to the Program administrator. The Program administrator will immediately report the matter to the Executive Director. Failure to report such matters would be considered grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination. If a supervisor fails to respond to a report from an employee or volunteer in a timely manner, the reporter may bring the matter to the next level of supervision.
In the event the Boys Hope Girls Hope employee accused of the child abuse/neglect described above is the reporting employee’s or volunteer’s supervisor, the Boys Hope Girls Hope employee or volunteer making the report shall report directly to the Executive Director, or, in the case of the Executive Director’s involvement, the Boys Hope Girls Hope Affiliate/International Board Chair.
C) Protection for Employees Reporting Abuse Any Boys Hope Girls Hope employee who, in good faith, reports a situation he/she believes to involve child abuse/neglect shall not be retaliated against or otherwise discriminated against with respect to compensation, hire, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, regardless of the ultimate decision on the allegation. (Refer to the BHGH Personnel Policies Manual for the complete non-retaliation policy).
D) Protection for Scholars Reporting Abuse Any Boys Hope Girls Hope scholar who, in good faith, reports a situation he/she believes to involve child abuse/neglect shall not be disciplined or otherwise retaliated against regardless of the ultimate decision on the allegation.
E) Consequences for False Reporting Any Boys Hope Girls Hope employee or volunteer who is subject to, receives a complaint about, hears of, or directly witnesses any inappropriate conduct or suspicious behavior relevant to scholar abuse or neglect is required to immediately notify their supervisor or the Executive Director. Employees and volunteers are encouraged to come forward with any concern regarding the safety of our scholars (even if the subject of your concern is not explicitly covered by our written policies), and to do so immediately so whatever action appropriate to handle the issue can be taken as soon as possible. However, any Boys Hope Girls Hope employee who knowingly makes a false allegation of child abuse/neglect will be considered in willful misconduct and will lead to the employee’s termination.
Boys Hope Girls Hope scholars should not hesitate to report suspicious behavior or concerns relevant to abuse or neglect to the Program administrator or Executive Director. However, any Boys Hope Girls Hope scholar who knowingly makes a false allegation of child abuse/neglect may be terminated from the program as a result. In determining whether the scholar knew the allegation to be false, and in determining whether the scholar appreciated and understood the consequences of making a false accusation, the developmental level of the scholar, as well as his/her background and psychological health, will be considered.
IV--Post-Reporting Actions The Program administrator must be verbally notified immediately of any report or disclosure made of child abuse/neglect. If the Program administrator is not available, the Executive Director must be alerted pending verbal contact with the Program administrator. After the report of suspected child abuse or neglect is made, the following nine (9) actions are to be taken:
1-A) If a serious, credible, first-hand account and/or self-report incident involving imminent danger has been made, then…
Immediate Notification The Program administrator will provide immediate notification to the following:
Local agency that investigates suspected abuse and neglect (normally child abuse hotline/child protective services)
In rare instances, an emergency call to 911 may be warranted
1-B) If the reported incident is deemed not to be a serious, credible, first-hand account or self-report incident involving imminent danger, then…
Internal Investigation (to be completed within 48 hours)
An internal investigation of the alleged abuse/neglect will be conducted by an appropriately objective, trained, neutral individual designated by the Local Affiliate and/or International Office. This investigation will follow protocols established and outlined in the CBRPT resource “Conducting Internal Investigations Training” (Sept, 2007), and will include:
Interview with the alleged victim.
Interview with witnesses.
Interview with alleged perpetrator.
Interviews with other scholars and other possible victims.
Review of archival data such as service plans, daily logs, employee schedules and personnel files, etc.
Boys Hope Girls Hope staff and volunteers are to cooperate fully with the internal investigation. This investigation will be fully documented and the results will be committed to writing and submitted, within five working days of the completion of the internal investigation, to the International Office President, the Local Board and Program Committee Chairpersons, the Local Executive Director, the Local Program administrator, and, if appropriate, the Affiliate/International Office legal counsel and insurance carrier. The findings of this report will also be shared with the alleged victim and the child's parent or guardian. If the report of abuse or neglect is deemed credible through conducting the internal investigation, return to action step 1-A then follow the rest of the post-reporting action steps. The internal investigation report will be available for review by any authorized entity conducting its own authorized investigation. If the internal investigation deems that the reported incident does not rise to the level of a CPS-reportable event, no further action will be taken other than (perhaps) a review of safety protocols or staff training needs.
2) Assurance of Safety for Scholars(s) or Other Victims
Depending on the seriousness of the allegations, the recommendations of the investigating authorities, the immediately available evidence, and the need for protection of the alleged victim and the other scholars, immediate action may need to be taken pending the outcome of any further investigation. Such action could include:
Immediate support provided to the victim(s). This may include a medical examination, counseling and other types of assistance.
Removal of the person accused of abuse or neglect, whether staff, volunteer or scholar, from the home environment, pending the outcome of any further investigation. Employees will be placed on administrative leave according to the policies outlined in the Personnel Policies Manual.
3) Broader Notification
Within twelve (12) hours the following must be notified of the suspected abuse or neglect:
Chair of the Affiliate Board of Directors
Chair of the Affiliate Program Committee
The child’s parent or guardian
Affiliate and International legal counsel
Note: As appropriate, corporate liability insurance provider will be notified through the International Office.
4) Assurance of Confidentiality
Any Boys Hope Girls Hope employee making an allegation of child abuse/neglect to their supervisor, any supervisor receiving a report of suspected child abuse/neglect, and all other informed administrators, shall not reveal the existence or content of the report to anyone outside of the listed notification groups (#1-A and #3) or others authorized to investigate. Further, any other employee, volunteer or administrator coming into possession of information regarding an allegation of child abuse/neglect, shall not reveal the existence or content of the report to any other person beyond those authorized to investigate. Strict confidentiality surrounding the allegations and investigation of the matter will be maintained in order to protect the privacy of alleged victims and perpetrators. Failure to comply with the confidentiality provisions of this policy could be considered an act of willful misconduct and could lead to termination of employment.
5) Spokesperson Assigned
A spokesperson (Executive Director or other Board designee) will handle all requests for information from outside agencies and the press concerning the incident. All inquiries will be directed through this person. Employees, volunteers and program participants shall refrain from contact with the press, and shall direct all inquiries to the approved spokesperson. Failure of an employee to comply with this guideline could be considered a breach of the confidentiality provisions of this policy and could lead to termination of employment.
6) Staff Cooperation
Boys Hope Girls Hope staff and volunteers are to cooperate fully with the CPS investigation and/or state and local law enforcement personnel investigating any incidents of suspected child abuse/neglect. Failure to cooperate with such investigation(s) will lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or volunteer service.
7) Plan of Action
Following the completion of the Boys Hope Girls Hope and state or local investigations, a plan of action will be developed. Possible outcomes might include:
possibly no follow-up action, but follow-up training/education may be required.
Boys Hope Girls Hope will cooperate fully with state and local officials in their resolution of the allegations. Additionally, whether an incident is determined to be substantiated or unsubstantiated, the Program Committee will review the incident to determine the need for policy or safety procedural changes and to identify additional training needs.
8) Disciplinary Action/Termination
If disciplinary action or termination of a staff member is sought following the outcome of a child abuse or neglect investigation, this action will proceed according with the Boys Hope Girls Hope policies regarding staff disciplinary action and termination. All related documentation will be maintained in a separate incident file apart from the employee’s personnel file.
Boys Hope Girls Hope will provide supportive counseling to scholars affected by an incident of abuse or neglect, the specific services and duration of which to be determined on a case-by-case basis, including services for the scholar’s family if appropriate.
Boys Hope Girls Hope will offer professional help for an employee, volunteer or scholar unjustly accused of child abuse or neglect, the specific services and duration of which to be determined on a case-by-case basis, including services for the scholar’s family if appropriate.
V--Abusive Conduct Suspected by Someone Other Than a Boys Hope Girls Hope Employee or Scholar Any Boys Hope Girls Hope employee or volunteer who has reasonable cause to suspect that someone, other than a Boys Hope Girls Hope employee, volunteer or scholar, has abused a scholar, regardless of where the abuse has occurred, is required to report the suspected abuse immediately to the Program administrator.
The employee or volunteer must inform the Program administrator of the suspected abuse/neglect. Even though the employee or volunteer has reported the suspected abuse internally, the employee or volunteer retains the right, and possibly the obligation depending on state/local regulations, to make a direct report of suspected abuse/neglect to Child Protective Services.
The Program administrator shall collect information necessary to determine whether or not there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child in question is an abused/neglected child and to determine whether there is an obligation to report to Child Protective Services. In such matters, staff should always error on the side of child safety.
VI—Retention of Right to be Informed of Incident Resolution Individuals who have made a report to their supervisor of alleged abuse or neglect of a scholar, whether it occurred in the agency environment or elsewhere, have the right (and possibly the obligation depending on state/local regulations) to expect to hear from their supervisor regarding the resolution status of their allegation report. This right can be exercised either through the supervisor proactively updating the reporter, or through the reporter inquiring of the supervisor to whom the report was made about the resolution to the allegation report.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT (Upon entry into the organization, a copy of this signed policy will be placed in the Employee’s or Volunteer’s Personnel File or the Scholar’s Case Record. This form shall be reviewed and signed on an annual basis by employees and volunteers following the completion of training and related testing on child abuse and neglect. Scholars and guardians should be periodically reminded of these policies as well.)
My signature below acknowledges that I, ________________, a________________
with Boy Hope Girls Hope of __________________, have read, understand,
and agree to comply with the aforementioned policies and procedures regarding
child abuse and neglect.
Signature and Date
I, ________________________, the designated Boys Hope Girls Hope program
representative, have verified this policy was reviewed with the signatory party above
and have witnessed the above signature. _______________________________