I am a retired YMCA CEO who has worked in the arena of youth sports programs and leagues for 35+ years. I am also a retired director of risk management for an insurance company that only ensures youth-serving organizations. I led a team of 16 risk consultants who worked in the field with over 400 YMCA’s and other organizations. I had the responsibility of developing risk protocols and practices for child-serving organizations in the area of child abuse and sexual harassment. We also developed a best practice protocol where a male and female staff members were member/guest advocates for confidential reporting of concerns.
Best practices in vetting volunteers and other personnel who are in contact with minors include complete background checks (local, state, and national) and an application which asks whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony. All volunteers should provide at least 3 references, of which one of the references should be either a family member or close friend. We have learned that adding a family member or close friend as a reference check typically reveals critical information. All volunteers should be interviewed as if they were applying for a job. Interviewees should be trained to pick up information as to gaps in employment, involvement with other youth-serving organizations, and frequent moves. It is important to follow-up with youth-serving organizations that are provided on the application to verify the quality of service the applicant provided and uncover other issues that might have occurred.