Safety Guidelines and Protocol

Protection of Minors/Protection of Volunteers

General Overarching Guidelines for Serving Our Young Guests

 

Francis in the Schools requires all volunteers to do their best to maintain the highest standards of personal behavior at all times when interacting with our young guests. Francis in the Schools volunteers must go beyond the standard “Protection of Minors” guidelines and understand that we wish to treat the children with the greatest respect, dignity, kindness, understanding, and care they have ever experienced. We believe the children deserve such behavior, as they are the beloved children of the Great King.

 

Francis in the Schools volunteers are asked to listen to and interact with minors in a genuinely positive and friendly manner.

 

All Francis in the Schools volunteers are asked to go through training with the Executive Director or another senior staff volunteer to learn how to become increasingly aware of how their actions and intentions might appear – how they might be perceived and misinterpreted.

 

In general, the Francis in the Schools program wishes to ensure the physical, emotional, sexual, and overall safety of the children, the parent and teacher volunteers, and the community volunteers helping to host each event.

 

Schools

 

Before field trips are finalized, principals and teachers are made aware that they are solely responsible for the safety of their students. Francis in the Schools volunteers are never permitted to be alone with a child or children and may never escort children to the bathroom. Teachers and principals are asked to provide as many parent chaperones as they feel necessary to provide for the safe supervision of their students. They are also asked to share our Francis in the Schools safety information with parent chaperones prior to the field trip.

 

Volunteers

 

The Executive Director or other trained Francis in the Schools mandated reporters meet individually or in small and large groups with Francis in the Schools volunteers to teach and emphasize the crucial importance of child safety – physical, sexual, and emotional – as well as volunteer safety.

 

  • Volunteers must never be alone with a child.

  • Volunteers must never escort children to the bathroom or to any closed area that is not in plain view, easily and openly visible to others.

  • Volunteers may never touch a child, unless reasonably required to assist the child in the assigned Francis In the Schools activity. Even then, touch is limited specifically to the task and must appear to any onlooker as safe and respectful to the child.

  • Volunteers may never photograph any of the children using their own or another volunteer’s camera or phone, etc. And no photos can ever be shared via social media networks. Remember, the children are minors!

  • When volunteers are invited to be “in the photograph”, their hands must be in plain view, not behind the child’s back, for example.

  • Volunteers must always be in the company of the parent or teacher chaperones.

  • If a volunteer must, for a child’s safety, escort them to the Support Area or another Nurse’s or Doctor’s station, they must bring an adult or two or more children with them.

  • Volunteers may never discipline children using unkind words or a harsh tone of voice.

  • Volunteers are asked to monitor themselves and their self-discipline meter. If children are beginning to “test” them and volunteers feel themselves losing their self-control, they must immediately ask for assistance by contacting another volunteer or the Executive Director.

  • If a volunteer feels a child or group of children are “pushing their buttons,” the volunteer is taught to kindly request one of the parent or teacher chaperones to assist.

  • Under no circumstance is there any excuse for or tolerance of rudeness on the part of our Francis in the Schools volunteers. The children are our honored guests and must be treated so throughout the course of their time with us.

  • Volunteers are never allowed to yell at, shame, humiliate, intimidate, ridicule, or discipline a child.

  • Volunteers are free to guide the behavior of our guests only in a loving and kind manner, without any physical force, coersion, or unkind language, facial expressions, and/or insinuations.

  • Volunteers must refrain from showing physical affection to children. They are permitted to shake hands and smile kindly, but no volunteer is permitted to pick up, carry, hug, rock, or pat the head or body of a child. (In the unlikely case of an emergency when a child’s safety is in jeopardy, a volunteer must consider the risk factors to the child. If carrying them to safety is required, the volunteer will have to accept the risk of that behavior and err on the side of protecting the child.)

  • Volunteers must not tickle, chase, or tease the children.

  • No volunteer is ever to invite or permit a child to sit on his/her lap.

  • Volunteers are not permitted to administer sunblock or ointments for the children. All of our Francis in the Schools guests are old enough to do this for themselves or to ask their parent chaperone or teacher to do so.

  • We require all new volunteers to attend a training session at which we make sure they are sensitive to and aware of how their “behavior or touch” looks to others.

Mandated Reporting

Francis in the Schools volunteers who are mandated reporters in their professional career must remember they are not serving as a mandated reporter at the Francis in the Schools events.

 

If a volunteer suspects a child to be the victim of at-home or at-school physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, they should contact one of our on-site Francis in the Schools safety officers, Dr. Ivy Summers, Dr. Jimmy Venza, Caroline Chiara, or the Executive Director, Terry Johnson.

 

Probationary Procedure for Volunteers Who Breech Our Code of Conduct Guidelines

 

Francis in the Schools has absolutely zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior toward children or adults.

 

When volunteers behave impolitely toward a child or group of children, the Executive Director meets with them and explains the terms of their probation. They will not be not permitted to interact with children for a designated number of events until they demonstrate a clear understanding of our goals – to serve the children with the utmost respect, kindness and tolerance. If the volunteer feels they have developed greater self-control, they may be permitted to serve as a volunteer again but only on a trial basis. In such circumstances, a volunteer on probation is partnered with a highly-trained volunteer who is told that their job is to monitor the behavior of the returning volunteer. If there is even a hint of inappropriate behavior, the partner must contact Terry Johnson immediately and the volunteer on probation is excused and replaced right away.

 

When volunteers behave inappropriately toward a fellow volunteer, the same probationary guidelines are in effect.

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