Standards for child and youth development programs
Child and Youth Development Human Resources (CYD-HR) 10: Volunteers
Volunteers receive sufficient and appropriate orientation, training, support, and supervision.
As noted at the beginning of CYD-HR, volunteers who perform the same duties as personnel and have a regular, ongoing role at the program are expected to meet the same standards as personnel. All other volunteers will be covered by this standard.
NAThe program does not use volunteers, or all volunteers meet the standards for personnel.
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While recruitment strategies and selection criteria will vary based on program needs, all programs should strive to ensure that volunteers’ skills and interests are appropriate to the roles and responsibilities they will assume at the program. For example, while a program with a mentoring component might need a large number of regular volunteers willing to make a long-term commitment to children and youth, a program looking for assistance with its STEM or arts programming might seek just a few volunteers who have specialized expertise in those areas.
Note: Partnerships with community organizations, institutions, and members, as addressed in CYD-OST 7, can help programs identify and recruit prospective volunteers.
To ensure the safety of program participants, screening procedures for volunteers who will have an ongoing role at the program include:
fingerprint-based state and federal criminal history record checks;
child abuse and neglect registry checks; and
sex offender registry checks.
This standard applies to ongoing volunteers who will provide direct services to, or be alone with, children and youth. If some volunteers were working with the program before the implementation of background checks, the program is expected to conduct background checks on those volunteers prior to achieving accreditation. The program should also conduct periodic re-investigations at intervals specified in its procedures, unless the program will be automatically notified by the authority that conducted the initial check if a subsequent violation occurs.
The program should also ensure that it complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations in conducting these checks. If a program is not legally permitted to implement part of this standard (e.g., it can only conduct name-based checks, not fingerprint-based checks), it should be prepared to provide documentation (e.g., copy of a law or regulation) demonstrating that this is the case. The program should also consult with legal counsel about any concerns regarding the appropriate use of background information. Background checks yield information, but the program must decide how to use the information it obtains. Accordingly, the program should define what offenses would disqualify a volunteer, but should also take care to ensure that it does not illegally discriminate.
NANo volunteers have an ongoing role at the program.
Note: Volunteers who will not have an ongoing role at the program and are thus not required to undergo background checks (e.g., an occasional parent volunteer) should not be left alone with children and youth, as addressed in CYD-HR 10.05.
Most programs permanently disqualify anyone convicted of sex-related crimes, violent crimes, and crimes involving children. For other types of crimes, programs might consider factors such as the age of the person at the time of the offense, how long ago the offense occurred, the person’s attitude about the offense, and the person’s lifestyle since the offense.
Volunteers receive an orientation and training that addresses:
the program’s goals; and
the program’s expectations of the volunteer, including the volunteer’s role and responsibilities.
The extent and nature of the orientation/training provided will likely vary based on volunteers’ roles and responsibilities. For example, when a volunteer has only a short-term or one-time role at the program (e.g., a parent who volunteers to assist with an activity or chaperone a field trip), the orientation/training they receive will likely be much more informal, and less extensive, than when a volunteer will play an ongoing role at the program. As noted in CYD-HR 10.01, the roles and responsibilities of volunteers should reflect their interests, skills, and training.
support that enables them to fulfill their roles and responsibilities at the program; and
information about any changes at the program that may impact them or their service.
Volunteers are adequately supervised by program personnel at all times.
The program should consider the nature of volunteers’ responsibilities, along with their qualifications, when determining what level of supervision will be adequate. Volunteers should not be left alone with children and youth unless they have undergone background checks, as addressed in CYD-HR 10.02.
The program maintains essential information about volunteers, including identifying information and emergency contact information.
The program ensures that volunteers are recognized for their service.