At Big Brothers Big Sisters St. Catharines-Thorold & District, child safety is our number one priority. Due to the nature of any program involving adults spending one-to-one time with children, child safety is important. As such, our staff are committed to going above and beyond to ensure and maintain the safety of the child at all times.

Before being accepted into the program all Volunteers must go through an extensive screening and assessment process which includes a Vulnerable Sector Scan and a minimum of three satisfactory references. There is then an intensive one-on-one interview with a qualified Mentoring Coordinator. The interview covers the applicant’s motivations, expectations, stability, volunteer experience and personal relationships, as well as some situational questions to assess their skills and experience.

Before acceptance, Volunteers must also attend a two hour group training session before being accepted into any Program. The comprehensive training session includes topics such as: what makes a successful friendship, abuse and disclosures, general safety issues, responsibilities of a Big/Little and the characteristics of an effective Volunteer. Applicants will be provided with a number of exercises and potential scenarios to prepare them for common challenges in a match.

Guardians and children are given separate training sessions which include a discussion about expectations and the importance of communication and specific safety issues before acceptance, such as maintaining safety while on outings and inappropriate and appropriate behaviour. Trained BBBS staff ensure that every child understands what is okay and what isn’t and what to do if they ever feel uncomfortable.

The main goals of the training process are to ensure:

  • The Volunteers are role models of safety.
  • All parties of the match know what is expected.
  • The protection of all parties involved.

The training process is an integral part of the organization’s National Standards.
In addition to the extensive screening and training process, our National Standards require that every match is regularly monitored. Designated Mentoring Coordinators are available to volunteers, children and guardians if they ever have any concerns.

The pre-scheduled phone calls and in person meetings are to ensure that everyone involved is happy with the situation and to monitor consistency and stability in the friendship.

Our National agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, monitors all of its agencies to ensure that all agencies are in full compliance with the National Standards. All agencies go through an accreditation process every five years.  For more information on National Standards please visit the National website.