Top 5 Tips to Ensure Your Staff is Prepared for the New Year
We hope that the new year brings optimism for your organization’s safest year yet. Of course, we all know that optimism is not a strategy, so what safety items should you be thinking about to prepare your staff in the new year? Some suggestions to keep in mind as you begin filling in that beautiful new planner:
- Review Your Policies. Your organizational abuse prevention policies are a living document. What did you learn last year from incidents, boundary violations, or policy violations that might suggest a need for revision? Have there been any relevant legislative or licensing requirements that impact your programs? Were any new risks identified that need to be addressed at the policy level? Have this conversation with your board and determine how to write – and most importantly – implement any changes.
- Research SOLs and Reporting Requirements in State(s) Where You Operate. Many US jurisdictions have revisited their statutes of limitations (SOL) and requirements for reporting child sexual abuse. Some states have removed the SOLs for claims related to child sexual abuse; others have extended the time period when a victim/survivor can make a claim. A handful of other states have enacted temporary “look-back” legislation that allows survivors to bring claims for historical allegations during a set timeframe – usually one or two years. For example, one jurisdiction may allow a time period of a year for any survivor to come forward with any historical allegation of child sexual abuse. Further, states are also re-examining who is a mandated reporter with the trend being increasingly inclusive. These changes can have a major impact on your organization’s obligations to respond to and report suspected abuse.
Following is a great summary of these changes:
- Develop a Training Calendar. Training is not just a compliance event – it is an opportunity to keep your efforts animated and nurture a culture of safety. Where are the opportunities for formal and informal training for staff and volunteers? Which topics are most relevant for your team? How can you engage parents/guardians in the conversation? Don’t forget to refresh everyone on reporting requirements as they may have changed (see #2!).
- Evaluate Your Insurance Coverage. With the surge in historical claims over the last few years, experts refer to the current insurance market as “hardening,” or more difficult and expensive to get coverage. Schedule time with your broker to discuss your sexual misconduct liability (SML) needs. Long before your renewal date, you will want to document specific strategies that your organization is implementing to prevent incidents of abuse and misconduct.
- Examine Your Personnel and Incident Files. Given recent legislative changes, it is more important than ever to know what kinds of exposures may be in your files. Conduct a deep review of your files to identify any historical allegations, patterns of boundary violations, investigations, and correspondence with victims/survivors. Consult with your board and legal team on the results and how to move forward with any unresolved issues. Many organizations are hiring third parties to conduct file reviews to ensure this is done objectively and consistently. Contact Praesidium to discuss how we can help.