Protecting children and youth from abuse is a duty that all of us share. It takes a community to protect our youth, and Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) recognizes the importance of including the entire community in this important duty. Furthermore, it is also the responsibility of the community to be vigilant and protect itself. Each of us is responsible for the ongoing safety of youth at URJ. Finally, youth seem to be more at risk to the pressures and traumas of the world today. As a caring community, we must be ready to respond if youth need our help. In accordance with URJ’s mission of strengthening Judaism today and for generations to come, this policy addresses the steps URJ employees and volunteers will take both proactively and in crisis to help keep its youth emotionally, mentally, and physically safe.
2.0 Service Eligibility and Communication with URJ Leadership
3.0 Screening and Selection
4.0 Training and Education
5.0 Compliance with State or Provincial Reporting Laws
6.0 Reporting Abuse, Neglect, and Misconduct to URJ Leadership
8.0 Investigation by URJ Leadership
9.0 Appropriate Action Taken as a Result of the Investigation
10.0 Compliance with URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures
1.1 Abuse: The physical injury or mental injury of a youth by a parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of youth, or by any household or family member, under circumstances that indicate that the youth's health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed; or sexual abuse, whether or not physical injuries are sustained.
1.2 Adult: A person who is 18 years of age and older.
1.3 Application: URJ online staff employment application (CampMinder).
1.4 URJ Leadership: Director or designee.
1.5 URJ Personnel: Includes all leadership, senior staff, seasonal staff, and volunteers.
1.6 Civil Authorities: Law enforcement or child protective services of the state or province.
1.7 Criminal History Screening: An Internet-based background check completed through a third-party vendor.
1.8 Misconduct with Youth: Actions that compromise the safety and well-being of a youth or violate appropriate boundaries with a youth. For purposes of this policy, misconduct with youth does not include abuse.
1.9 Neglect: The failure to give proper care or attention to a youth, including the leaving of a youth unattended where the youth’s health or welfare is harmed, or a youth is placed in substantial risk of harm, by any parent, camp or program employee, service provider or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of the youth.
1.10 Physical Abuse: Non-accidental trauma or physical injury caused by punching, beating, kicking, burning, or otherwise harming a youth by a parent or caretaker.
1.11 Sexual Abuse: Any act that involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a youth by a parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of a youth, or by any household or family member.
1.12 Youth: Any individual under 18 years of age.
2.0 SERVICE ELIGIBILITY AND COMMUNICATION WITH URJ LEADERSHIP
In addition to the screening and education of URJ personnel, the interaction and performance of all individuals in URJ with youth must be monitored as described in the URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures.
2.1 URJ will exclude from employment or volunteer service anyone against whom there is a credible allegation of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect of a child or youth.
2.2 URJ personnel are expected to act in a manner that is consistent with URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures.
2.3 URJ personnel must contact URJ leadership immediately if it is learned that anyone accused or convicted of abuse, neglect, or misconduct with youth is involved in any capacity at URJ. This requirement is in addition to the obligations discussed below regarding reporting to civil authorities and screening of personnel.
2.4 URJ personnel must not initiate any kind of investigation before contacting URJ leadership. URJ personnel should proceed under the direction of URJ leadership.
3.0 SCREENING AND SELECTION
URJ is committed to healthy conduct with youth and seeks to engage competent, qualified people. To protect youth, URJ personnel are screened for their fitness to work with youth. URJ leadership and designated staff will be accountable for the proper implementation and compliance with URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures.
3.1 All requirements of URJ Youth Policies and Procedures must be completed with required documentation before an applicant may begin employment or volunteer service at URJ.
3.2 URJ designated staff will confirm that these screening requirements have been completed. If any of the requirements are not completed, then the applicant may not begin working.
3.3 All applicants for employment must complete a URJ application. URJ camps and programs should be using CampMinder for the application process.
3.3 All applicants for employment must provide three references. The references must be checked and documented by designated staff before the applicant may begin serving. References must be obtained from any URJ camp or program where applicant worked or served previously.
3.4 All URJ personnel must complete a criminal history screening before beginning employment or volunteer service. An applicant’s employment or volunteer service is contingent upon favorable results of the criminal history screening.
3.5 All returning URJ personnel must complete a criminal history screening annually.
Questionable or unfavorable criminal history screenings will be reviewed by the director or designee. In such cases, the employee or volunteers may not begin or continue serving until they receive approval from the director or designee.
3.6 During the course of employment or volunteer service, any employee or volunteer convicted for any crime (excluding moving violations) has five calendar days to report the conviction to URJ leadership. Depending on the facts, convictions reported may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or volunteer service.
3.7 URJ leadership or designee must notify URJ Human Resources of the termination of an employee or volunteer for a credible allegation of abuse (including sexual abuse or physical abuse), neglect, or misconduct with youth.
4.0 TRAINING AND EDUCATION
URJ is committed to education on how to prevent, recognize, and report abuse and misconduct with youth. By educating adults, risks to youth are greatly reduced because there is a better understanding and awareness of the issue of abuse.
4.1 All employees and volunteers must complete safe environment training annually regarding preventing, recognizing, and reporting abuse and misconduct with youth.
4.2 Training documentation must be reviewed and maintained by URJ designated staff in a confidential, safe, and secure location with controlled access. Personnel files may be reviewed by appropriate personnel but may not be copied or removed from the office where they are maintained.
4.3 Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, some victims of sexual abuse may not feel comfortable completing safe environment training. URJ personnel in this situation may request to receive the materials in an alternative way. Documentation of completion will be kept in the same manner as the records above. This training must be completed annually.
5.0 COMPLIANCE WITH STATE OR PROVINCIAL REPORTING LAWS
URJ complies with state or provincial laws regarding reporting suspected abuse and neglect to civil authorities and cooperates with civil authorities investigating reports of suspected abuse or neglect by anyone, including but not limited to URJ personnel.* URJ should not investigate an allegation of abuse before making the required report.
5.1 Any person who has reason to believe a youth has been subjected to abuse (including sexual abuse) or neglect must make a report to the local office of child protective services or law enforcement as soon as possible. Reporting laws vary by state and province. It is the responsibility of the leadership of the URJ camp or program to know the state and provincial reporting laws.
5.2 The report should be made to the jurisdiction where it is believed the incident(s) occurred. If that information is not known, then the report should be made to the jurisdiction where the youth resides. In cases where the incident(s) are alleged to have occurred outside of the state and the victim currently resides out of the state, then a report should be made to the local office of child protective services. The local office will forward the report to the appropriate agency outside of the state that is authorized to receive and investigate reports of suspected abuse or neglect.
5.3 In some states, camp and program staff and specific professionals, including educators and health practitioners must also make a written report within 48 hours to the local office of child protective services and local State’s Attorney’s Office.
5.4 URJ personnel must also notify URJ leadership about the suspected abuse or neglect.
5.5 Any person who has knowledge of an incident involving the production, possession, distribution, or receipt of child pornography must make a report to law enforcement as soon as possible.
5.6 Any person who has reason to believe a child or youth resides with or is in the regular presence of an individual who poses a substantial risk of sexual abuse to the child or youth, should also notify the local office of child protective services.
5.7 Any person who reports suspected abuse in good faith cannot be held civilly or criminally liable for making a report of suspected abuse.
5.8 Any requests for additional information from the civil authorities shall go through URJ leadership.
* In Israel, suspected abuse should be reported to a child protection worker in Social Services and/or the police.
6.0 REPORTING ABUSE, NEGLECT AND MISCONDUCT TO URJ LEADERSHIP OR DESIGNEE
6.1 Any person who has reason to believe a youth has been subjected to abuse (including Sexual Abuse or Physical Abuse), neglect, or misconduct by URJ personnel shall immediately notify URJ leadership or designee.
6.2 Notification of URJ leadership or designee is in addition to any reporting required to civil authorities. URJ personnel must also make a report to required civil authorities in addition to notifying URJ leadership or designee.
6.3 Persons making reports of abuse, neglect or misconduct with youth will be advised that URJ takes such allegations seriously and will respond promptly.
6.4 To respect the privacy of those involved, confidentiality is maintained, to the extent possible, consistent with the civil reporting requirements and URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures, taking into account:
- The need to advocate for those who are victims.
- The need to provide appropriate outreach to victims.
- The need to be in compliance with civil law.
- The right of URJ personnel to be treated fairly.
- The need to fairly investigate by the appropriate authorities all complaints of abuse or misconduct with youth.
- The need to make a report to URJ leadership and/or designated staff in a timely manner.
6.5 All reports and documentation regarding abuse, neglect, or misconduct with youth must be maintained by URJ designated staff in a confidential, safe, and secure location with controlled access. Personnel files may be reviewed by appropriate personnel but may not be copied or removed from the office where they are maintained.
URJ is committed to openness and transparency. URJ will meet this commitment to the extent possible while also respecting the privacy and reputations of all individuals and applicable law.
7.1 Should a youth disclose abuse or neglect, or if abuse is suspected the focus of any conversation should be to obtain only minimal facts. These guidelines should be followed:
- Listen, let the youth speak (you might get all you need).
- Let the youth guide the conversation. Do not supply words, body parts, or acts for the youth, or ask questions that assume details.
- Ask open-ended questions: What happened, who did this, where did it happen?
- Keep questions simple (follow-up questions are usually not needed).
- Recognize this may be difficult for the youth, and they might not be ready to tell you everything.
- You do not need details just the basic facts.
- It is not your job to investigate.
7.2 If there is a concern or allegation that a parent or guardian is abusing or neglecting a youth, in consultation with civil authorities, URJ leadership will communicate with the non-offending caregiver. Staff and volunteers are to refer any questions to URJ leadership. In the case that the offending caregiver is an employee or volunteer involved in an allegation with their own child, URJ leadership will defer to civil authorities when contact may be made with the employee or volunteer regarding the allegations.
7.3 Any media requests will be handled by URJ leadership. The leadership will also be responsible for liaising with Executive leadership and other staff members as necessary.
7.4 URJ shall communicate the key components of URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures to camp and programs’ families, all staff, and volunteers.
7.5 URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures will be readily available publicly through the URJ website.
8.0 INVESTIGATION BY URJ LEADERSHIP OR DESIGNEE
Upon receiving a report of abuse, neglect, or misconduct with a youth suspected to have been committed by URJ personnel, the URJ leadership or designee will assist in investigating and providing both immediate and on-going care and assistance to victim(s), their families, and members of the affected community. Investigations take place and care is extended whether the abuse, neglect, or misconduct with a youth was recent or occurred in the past. Because URJ cooperates with civil authorities, a URJ investigation of an allegation of suspected abuse or neglect by URJ personnel might be delayed pending investigation by the civil authorities. The report to and investigation by civil authorities will occur before any internal investigation.
When URJ investigates an allegation of suspected abuse by URJ personnel, the following guidelines apply. These guidelines may be modified as appropriate for the particular circumstances. They may also be used, with appropriate modifications, for allegations of suspected neglect or misconduct with youth or in instances when the accused is not URJ personnel but is associated with URJ, such as an independent contractor.
8.1 URJ leadership and/or designee will be assisted by appropriate personnel in investigating and responding to allegations of abuse. Appropriate personnel will speak with the person(s) making the report and others who may have relevant information in order to obtain as clear and detailed information as possible.
8.2 After receiving the initial report, URJ leadership will determine the specific steps needed to proceed, guided by the following values:
- The safety and protection of youth.
- A fair and honest search for the truth.
- The need to provide appropriate outreach to victims.
- The need to be in compliance with civil law.
- The right of all persons to be treated fairly.
- The need to investigate and take appropriate action in all cases of alleged abuse or misconduct with a youth.
8.3 Victims of abuse, neglect, or misconduct with a youth by URJ personnel are offered appropriate support.
- URJ will explain, as fully as possible, the process that is being undertaken.
- URJ will advise the person of the reporting requirements under state or provincial law. The person will be informed of his/her right to also report to the civil authorities.
8.4 URJ will cooperate with any investigation being conducted by civil authorities.
9.0 APPROPRIATE ACTION TAKEN AS A RESULT OF THE INVESTIGATION
9.1 As a result of an investigation of abuse, neglect, or misconduct with youth, URJ will undertake appropriate outreach, personnel action, and communications with affected communities consistent with URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures.
9.2 Pending the outcome of an investigation, any URJ personnel accused of abuse of neglect will be placed on an administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.
9.3 Appropriate personnel action may include any action up to and including termination of URJ personnel.
9.4 In those instances when there is a credible allegation of sexual abuse by URJ personnel, the alleged offender will be permanently relieved of all employment or volunteer service.
10.0 COMPLIANCE WITH URJ YOUTH PROTECTION POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
It is the expectation of URJ that all URJ personnel comply with URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures and contribute to a safe and healthy environment for those served by the URJ.
10.1 URJ leadership and/or designee and senior staff is responsible for ensuring that all URJ personnel are in compliance with the requirements of URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures and that all required documentation is maintained.
10.2 URJ designated staff maintains compliance records for URJ so only those who are compliant may be employed or serve as a volunteer. URJ personnel must maintain appropriate confidentiality regarding sensitive information and make sound judgments regarding an individual’s eligibility for employment or volunteer service in accordance with these policies.
10.3 Failure to follow and document all requirements of URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
10.3 URJ leadership and designated staff will provide training to appropriate URJ personnel on URJ Youth Policies and Procedures.
10.4 Questions regarding the interpretation or application of URJ Youth Protection Policies and Procedures are encouraged and should be directed to URJ leadership.