CASA SHaW Child Protection Policy
CASA SHaW takes very seriously the safety and well-being of the vulnerable children we serve and has developed strict policies and procedures to address this issue proactively. Violation of these policies and procedures will be reported to the appropriate authorities and prosecuted to the greatest extent allowable by law and by our program.
I. Background Checks
a. All board members, staff, and volunteers are required to submit to the following screening procedures prior to serving with CASA SHaW:
i. Submission of an application, fingerprints, and two forms of identification;
ii. Local, state, and federal background checks;
iii. International background check in every country lived since age 18;
iv. Sex offender registry check;
v. Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) check;
vi. Social security number check;
vii. Staff and volunteers must also submit both personal and professional references from four unrelated individuals.
II. Code of conduct
a. CASA’s code of conduct for advocates and staff when interacting with children:
i. Children must be seen at least once every 30-days;
ii. CASA advocates and staff members are never to be alone with a child – they must be within eyesight of another adult at all times. When applicable, keep doors/windows open to increase visibility (this is for the protection of the child and the volunteer);
iii. CASA advocates and staff are never permitted to transport a child, family members, or other individuals associated with an assigned case;
iv. CASA advocates and staff are not permitted to supervise child/parent visits or supervise the child in any way;
v. CASA advocates and staff are not permitted to have close physical contact with a child. Caution should always be used in this regard. Any concerns regarding this issue should be reported to the CASA SHaW executive director.
vi. CASA volunteers and staff are not permitted to use foul language around a child, nor are they permitted to discuss or show them inappropriate things (off color jokes or photos, talking about personal problems, own abuse, etc.);
vii. CASA volunteers and staff are not permitted to take photographs of children unless there is a court order in place permitting the action;
viii. CASA volunteers and staff are required to hold confidential all information regarding their case and are not permitted to discuss anything about their cases with individuals outside of those legally entitled to that information. Any questions regarding the appropriate disclosure of information should be directed to the individual’s supervisor;
ix. CASA volunteers and advocates are not permitted to have children or family members from an assigned family to their home;
x. CASA volunteers and advocates are not permitted to give money or gifts to the children or families we serve with the exception of a birthday or holiday gift provided for them by the CASA program.
xi. CASA volunteers and staff are mandatory reporters and are required to report any incidence of child abuse or neglect of which they are made aware.
xii. CASA volunteers and staff are not permitted to “friend” children on social media sites;
xiii. CASA volunteers and staff may text or phone older adolescents when coordinating a visit, gathering information, etc. or Skype in place of a home visit if the children is out of state or some distance away. However, regular texting and phone calls – “chatting” – is inappropriate. They are not friends.
xiv. CASA volunteers and staff are not permitted to keep secrets. Any information disclosed to them may be reported to DCPP, the court, etc.
xv. CASA volunteers are not permitted to accept or trade services with youth.
III. Behavior Flags
a. Child predators are successful because the average person is often not aware of behavior flags that indicate that something is amiss, and they are often individuals who are both known and trusted. While not every adult who engages in the listed behaviors is an abuser, these “grooming behaviors” are something which every adult who works with children should be aware of and looking for proactively:
i. There are six general stages of grooming: Identify a victim, gain his or her trust, fill a need, isolate the child in a “special” relationship, sexualize the relationship, and maintain control;
ii. Taking an unusual interest in a child;
iii. Cultivating a close and/or helpful relationship with the parent or caregiver;
iv. Giving a child gifts;
v. Finding ways to be alone with a child;
vi. Having escalating physical contact with a child going from non-sexual to sexual;
vii. Having off-color or sexual discussions;
viii. Showing pornography to a child;
ix. Providing a child with drugs or alcohol;
x. Encouraging a child to have secrets;
xi. An “incremental cultivation” of emotional and physical closeness with a child;
xii. Can be charming and charismatic and quickly adapts to multiple environments;
xiii. May say one thing and does another;
xiv. Commanding presence and presents very “in control.”