Posted: 28 November 2017
Author: Shaba Qureshi, Community Learning Network
This week, we are pleased to feature a guest blogger. The blog has been submitted by Volunteer Alberta, with an introduction from Monica Doherty, Volunteer Coordinator from Centre for Family Literacy.
Volunteers have the potential to be the greatest partners in our work in Community Adult Learning Programs. Having the right volunteers in the right places is key to our success!
During a workshop on working with volunteers at the Symposium this fall, participants asked me some great questions about screening practices. I also had a number of requests for more information about the Volunteer Screening Program offered by Volunteer Alberta.
This made me realize there are likely others working with volunteers who may not yet be aware of the program and its benefits to our organizations, including the fee waiver available for volunteers (such as tutors and facilitators) who need a Vulnerable Sector Check to work directly with the people we serve in our programs.
I reached out to the good folks at Volunteer Alberta, who put together some information on Volunteer Screening to share with the CALP community. Their resources are excellent. If you are working with volunteers, I would encourage you to check out their website for more information.
Monica Doherty, Centre for Family Literacy
Volunteer screening is key to your organization’s success – it provides better volunteer matches, improves safety and quality of programs, and reduces risks and liabilities. Screening is about making informed, reasonable judgements about people based on information gathered from a variety of sources. It begins before onboarding a volunteer and continues throughout their involvement with your organization.
The Volunteer Screening Program (VSP) supports non-profits to implement effective volunteer screening practices. The program has two primary components:
Data gathered from our workshops and presentations showed us that the biggest challenge faced by organizations is access to resources and best practices related to volunteer screening. Organizations want to maximize their volunteer engagement strategies and support a deeper understanding of participation, privacy, and protection at all levels – volunteer managers, leadership, and board.
Organizations also shared they want to hear from their peers. It’s important to have a space to share organizational best practices, discuss challenges faced by the community, and learn from the experts (e.g. police services or insurance agencies). Exploring organizational mindsets around volunteer screening and employing best practices from peers and experts can lead to new solutions and possibilities!
For these reasons, VSP offers lots of free online resources including templates, tools, and workbooks, as well as interactive learning opportunities such as webinars and in-person learning forums.
VSP provides funding to eligible organizations to support development in the areas of volunteer screening as well as funding for eligible organizations to support costs associated with Vulnerable Sector Checks (VSCs).
The Volunteer Screening Development Grant is designed to help support organizations in developing effective screening practices and processes. The grant provides $2,000 to support non-profits facing resource and capacity challenges in the area of volunteer screening.
The Vulnerable Sector Check Fee Waiver alleviates costs associated with VSCs. The waiver is available for organizations operating in participating communities. Eligible organizations must work with vulnerable populations and engage volunteers in approved positions of trust and authority in order to access the fee waiver.