At Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, child safety is our number one priority. Due to the nature of any program involving adults spending one-to-one time with children, child safety is important. As such, our staff is committed to going above and beyond to ensure and maintain the safety of the child at all times.
Before being accepted into the program all volunteers must go through an extensive screening and assessment process which includes a Police Information Check-Vulnerable Sector and a minimum of three satisfactory references. There is then an intensive one-on-one interview with a qualified Big Brothers staff assessor. The interview covers the applicant’s motivations, expectations, stability, volunteer experience, and personal relationships, as well as some situational questions to assess their skills and experience.
Before acceptance, volunteers must also attend a three-hour group training session before being matched with their Little Brother/Buddy. The comprehensive training session includes topics such as child-development and self-esteem, play and activity planning, what makes a successful friendship, abuse, and disclosures, general safety issues, responsibilities of a Big Brother/Buddy and the characteristics of an effective volunteer. Applicants will be provided with a number of exercises and potential scenarios to prepare them for common challenges in a match.
Guardians and children are given separate training sessions which include a discussion about expectations and the importance of communication and specific safety issues before acceptance, such as maintaining safety while on outings and inappropriate sexual behavior. Trained Big Brothers staff ensure that every child understands what is okay and what isn’t and what to do if they ever feel uncomfortable.
The main goals of the training process are to ensure:
- The volunteers are role models of safety.
- All parties of the match know what is expected.
- The protection of all parties involved.
The training process is an integral part of the organization’s National standards.
In addition to the extensive screening and training process, our National Safety Standards require that every match is regularly monitored. Designated Mentoring Coordinators are available to volunteers, children, and guardians if they ever have any concerns.
The pre-scheduled phone calls and in-person meetings are to ensure that everyone involved is happy with the situation and to monitor consistency and stability in the friendship.
Our National agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, monitors all of its agencies to ensure that all agencies are in full compliance with the National Standards of Safety. All agencies go through an accreditation process every five years. They have also created a National Safety Standards Committee to ensure that all staff training and safety measures are up to date, current and effective. For more information on National Safety Standards please visit the National website.