Government says new volunteer screening program improves safety

by Morinville News Staff

Alberta Culture and Tourism’s new Volunteer Screening Program offers non-profit organizations with resources to reinforce existing or create strong new volunteer screening practices.

The government says non-profit voluntary sector stakeholders and police agencies provided input for the tools.

“Helping non-profits to provide a safe and secure environment for Alberta youth and other vulnerable clients using the services these organizations provide is a priority,” said Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism, in a release Tuesday. “The Volunteer Screening Program adds another layer of scrutiny to volunteer recruitment and screening. The new tools and training resources, available free of charge to all Alberta non-profits, will help organizations develop practices to identify potential risks beyond police information checks.”

Both the program’s tools and training are designed to help organizations conduct a more thorough assessment of potential volunteers, including at the applications stage, through interviews and reference checks, and through ongoing support, supervision and evaluation. The tools not only help identifying potential risks, the government says effective screening also helps organizations better match the skills and experiences of volunteers with the right role in the organization.

Dave Elaniuk, Manager, Police Information Check Section with Edmonton Police Services said police services across Alberta recognize the importance that volunteerism plays in building strong communities, but that safety is essential.

“Vulnerable Sector Police Information Checks, in addition to other forms of screening, are a critical tool to keep our vulnerable population safe,” Elaniuk said. “The Volunteer Screening Program ensures that Vulnerable Sector Police Information Checks remain an integral part of the volunteer screening process in Alberta, allowing for volunteerism to remain strong and for those who are most vulnerable in our province to remain safe.”

Liz O’Neill, Executive Director, Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton also applauds the tools.

“This resource will be so important to organizations that work with vulnerable people,” O’Neill said. “The most important work we do is screening possible volunteers to ensure the safety of our children and families. The Government of Alberta and Volunteer Alberta are providing the opportunity for organizations to build capacity that will serve our community well.”

The government has allocated $44,000 for a limited number of Screening Development Grants. Eligible organizations can apply for up to $2,000 to support efforts to build effective screening programs and practices.

The Volunteer Screening Program resources are available online at the Volunteer Alberta website at volunteeralberta.ab.ca/volunteer-screening-program.

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