Volunteer screening

What is Volunteer Screening?

Volunteer Screening is an on-going process designed to identify any person (volunteer or staff) who may harm children or vulnerable persons. Volunteer screening serves two main purposes:

  • to create and maintain a safe environment
  • to ensure an appropriate match between volunteer and task

Why does the MDHA Screen its Volunteers?

In 2010, Hockey Canada directed all Minor Hockey Associations and Leagues, under the direction of their Branches, to have a documented screening process. MDHA's Hockey Canada's Branch is Hockey Eastern Ontario - HEO.
The MDHA provides programs to vulnerable people and the Association has a legal requirement under the principle of "Duty of Care" to appropriately screen people who work with our registered players.  This includes all volunteers.

Under the guidance of the HEO, the MDHA is now compliant with this directive.

The 10 Safe Steps to Screening

1.   Determining the risk

As a matter of policy, all volunteer positions will be examined in light of the relevant factors to determine the degree of risk involved. When there is a doubt as to the degree of risk, a position will be categorized as “high risk.”

Volunteers and employees who are active in more than one capacity should be screened for the position with the highest level of risk. When a person moves from a position with a low level of risk to a position of high risk, appropriate screening will be carried out for the new high-risk position.

Each position is listed in the Risk Matrix.

2.  Job Descriptions

Clear and precise job descriptions have been documented for each volunteer position within the MDHA to include responsibilities, expectations and time commitment. These job descriptions also indicate the screening requirements within the risk matrix. Volunteers must be competent and willing to fulfill the duties of the volunteer position they are are applying for.

3.  Recruitment of Volunteers

When the MDHA post notices for volunteer positions, the advertisement indicates that screening is part of the application process.

Advertising that there is a screening process in place demonstrates that the MDHA takes the personal safety of children entrusted in their care seriously and sends the message to undesirables that they need not bother to apply.

4.  Volunteer Application forms

MDHA uses application forms that included required contact information as well as the individual’s consent in writing to verified background information and check references.

If the volunteer position requires other screening measures (medical exam, driver's record, police records check), the application form will ask for permission to do so.

The individual’s consent to do this is required in writing and should be included on the application form

MDHA  Volunteer Application Form  for Executive Members, Head Coach/Assistant Coach, Trainer, Manager and on-ice volunteers.

5.   Interviewing Volunteers

MDHA conducts interviews to provide the opportunity for all volunteer applicants to speak to their background, skills, interests, and availability, and also to explore any doubts about the suitability of the applicant. The Interview Committee will be comprised of a minimum of 3 people selected by the President, and who do not have a” conflict of interest”.

The information provided by the applicant will not be taken at face value. After the interview, the disclosed information will be verified through references.

6.   Reference Checks

By identifying the level of trust required in the position and asking specific questions, the applicant's suitability may be easier to determine. The MDHA will follow up on references and determine if the applicant and the position are a match for the Association. We will do more than one reference check.

7.   Police Records / Vulnerable Person’s Check

Police Record Checks for the Vulnerable Person’s Sector will be performed according to the level of risk determined by the assessment and as recorded on the Position Risk Matrix.

MDHA recognizes the sensitivity of Police Record Checks results and has a Privacy Policy and Procedure in place in accordance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) to safe guard results, determine eligibility to volunteer and the retention of information during the volunteer period.   The Director of Risk and Safety is the MDHA’s Privacy Officer. An applicant’s human rights must not be breached in the determination of volunteering and/or availability of the stored documents.

8.   Conducting orientation and training sessions

MDHA provides orientation and training sessions for volunteer positions. Some positions (ie. Coach/trainer) require more detailed orientation/certification training. Orientation sessions include the review of MDHA rules, policies and procedures. Probation periods may also be considered giving both MDHA and the volunteer, time to learn more about each other and further determine the fit between the volunteer and the position.

9.   Supervision and Evaluation

It is recommended that the identified level of risk associated with a volunteer position will determine the necessary degree of supervision and evaluation. If the risk is great, it should follow that the volunteer will be under close supervision. Frequent feedback in the first year is particularly important.

The MDHA will perform evaluations based upon the job descriptions at the mid- year and year-end in the form of on-line surveys. Coaches will be monitored throughout the year by the Coach Mentor and Level Convenors. Feedback will be provided as necessary.

10.   Following-up on program participants

It is recommended that the MDHA Executive have regular contact with participants and family members. Volunteers have the ability to comment and provide valuable feedback to the MDHA Executive through a Year-End Review Survey and parents have the opportunity through the mid-year and year-end coach and team staff survey. All Volunteers should realize that follow-up activities that may occur and could include spot checks for volunteers in high-risk positions.