Statements From Big Brothers/Big Sisters - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Statements From Big Brothers/Big Sisters

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Here is the statement from Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee:

Big Brothers Big Sisters is aware of the criminal proceedings involving William Arnold. We are alarmed, outraged and saddened by accounts of a child being abused or harmed and deeply disturbed by reports that our program may have been exploited as part of any wrongdoing.

Arnold volunteered with our organization for three years until we closed his match in November 2010. We have been proactively cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation and it would be inappropriate and irresponsible for us go beyond this statement to discuss or speculate about any specifics.

Big Brothers Big Sisters makes child safety our priority. We have zero tolerance for abuse or exploitation of any kind. Big Brothers Big Sisters has designed our child protection systems in collaboration with experts including the Centers for Disease Control, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Nonprofit Risk-Management Center. 

Our volunteers and staff undergo thorough screening and background checks. Big Brothers Big Sisters' professional mentoring support staff have ongoing and regular communication with volunteers, mentees and their families and are trained to immediately make law enforcement and child protective services authorities aware of any reports of abuse or exploitation.

We remain committed to improving children's odds for overcoming adversity, succeeding in school, breaking negative cycles and having higher self-esteem and aspirations. Safety and security are the foundation of the service we provide.

The integrity of our program is extremely important and to achieve the highest quality standards possible, we work to constantly review and strengthen our screening and background check systems as new best practices in the industry emerge.

Here is the statement from the national Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization:

Our nearly 370 local affiliates develop proprietary operational guidelines for service and safety standards that include regular professional staff contact with mentor, mentee and parent(s)/guardian(s). 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America's community-based one-to-one mentoring model requires minimum match supervision contact  two weeks after the match is made with each mentor, mentee and parent(s)/guardian(s).   Subsequently, contact throughout  the first year with parent(s)/guardian(s), mentor and mentee is required to take place a minimum of once a month.  In addition, match support staff is available daily for mentor/mentee and parent/guardian-initiated contact.

After the first year, contact initiated by the match support professional with mentor, mentee and parent(s)/guardian(s) must take place at a minimum,  quarterly.  In addition, match support staff is available daily for mentor/mentee and parent(s)/guardian(s)-initiated contact.

Contacts initiated by match support professionals (in person or via telephone – with the opportunity to pick up tone and ask follow-up questions) should be rapport-building and substantive in nature with all match parties (mentors, parents/guardians and mentees).  These contacts should assess areas of concern that may require follow-up, providing professional support that helps build healthy friendships that will lead to the best possible outcomes for children.   (Communication/responses by email should be limited.)  Match support, while being a safety measure, contributes to enduring and enriching mentoring relationships that yield the outcomes unique to Big Brothers Big Sisters.  (*Note: Longstanding independent research finds children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters long-term mentoring programs are more likely than their peers to improve in school; avoid risky/delinquent behaviors; and have higher self-esteem and aspirations.)

Big Brothers Big Sisters' child protection system was developed in consultation with top nationwide child protection experts, including the Centers for Disease Control, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Nonprofit Risk-Management Center.   To achieve the highest quality standards possible, we work to constantly review and strengthen our screening and background check systems as new best practices in the industry emerge.  Our model requires the following minimum steps are taken in enrolling a volunteer:

  • Completion of a formal written application
  • A criminal history record check
  • References Checks
  • In-person interviews
  • Assessment of the volunteer's home environment
  • Professional assessment of appropriateness to volunteer with a child
  • Orientation and training process
  • Volunteers, parents and children receive education and training on child sexual abuse prevention at the time of enrollment.  This is important so that they understand the need for sharing information with match support.

Each local agency (each is a separate 501c3 with a local board of directors serving as its governing body) has agency operational standards and guidelines based on the minimums outlined above. 

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