Health and Safety Policies

Confidentiality Policy: Adopted 12-21-20

It is the policy of the Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County to protect the confidentiality of its participants and their families. With the exception of the limitations listed below, staff will only share information about mentors, mentees, and their families with other staff and the Board of Directors. Further, all prospective mentors, mentees, and parents/guardians should be informed of the scope and limitations of confidentiality by program staff. Additionally, mentors are required to keep information about their mentee and his/her family confidential.

 

In order for Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County to provide a responsible and professional service to participants, it is necessary to ask mentors, mentees, parents/guardians, and other outside sources to divulge extensive personal information about the prospective participants and their families, including:

 

  • Information gained from mentors and mentees, written or otherwise, about themselves and/or their families, in application to and during program participation

  • Participants’ names and images gained from participants themselves, program meetings, training sessions, and other events

  • Information gained about participants from outside sources including confidential references, school staff, employers

 

Records are, therefore, considered the property of the agency, not the agency workers, and are not available for review by mentors, mentees, or parents/guardians.

 

Limits of Confidentiality

Information from mentor and mentee records may be shared with individuals or organizations as specified below under the following conditions:

 

  • Information may be gathered about program participants and shared with other participants, individuals, or organizations only upon receipt of signed “release” forms from mentors, mentees, or parents/guardians.

  • Identifying information (including names, photographs, videos, etc.) of program participants may be used in agency publications or promotional materials only upon written consent of the mentor, mentee, and/or parent/guardian. 

  • Members of the Board of Directors have access to participant files only upon authorization by a formal motion of the board. The motion shall identify the person(s) to be authorized to review such records, the specific purpose for such review, and the period of time during which access shall be granted. Such members of the board granted access shall be required to comply with the agency policies on confidentiality and may use the information only for purposes stated by the approved action of the Board of Directors. Known violations shall be reported to the Board chairman. A violation of the agency’s confidentiality policy by a Board member shall constitute adequate cause for removal from the Board.

  • Information may only be provided to law enforcement officials or the courts pursuant to a valid and enforceable subpoena.

  • Information may be provided to legal counsel in the event of litigation or potential litigation involving the agency. Such information is considered privileged information, and its confidentiality is protected by law.

  • Program staff and volunteers are mandatory reporters and as such must disclose information indicating that a mentor or mentee may be dangerous to or intends to harm him/herself or others.

  • At the time a mentor or mentee is considered as a match candidate, information is shared between the prospective match parties. However, the full identity of the prospective match mate shall not be revealed at this stage. Names and addresses are shared with match mates only after the involved parties have met and agree to be formally matched. Each party shall have the right to refuse the proposed match based on the anonymous information provided to them. The information to be shared may include:

    •  Mentors: age, sex, race, religion, interests, hobbies, employment, marriage or family status, sexual preference, living situation, reasons for applying to the program, and a summary of why the individual was chosen for the particular match. Results of driving records and criminal histories may also be shared.

    •  Mentees: age, sex, race, religion, interests, hobbies, family situation, living situation, a summary of the client needs assessment, and expectations for match participation.

 

Safekeeping of Confidential Records

The executive director is considered the custodian of confidential records. It is his/her responsibility to supervise the management of confidential information in order to ensure safekeeping, accuracy, accountability, and compliance with Board policies.

 

Requesting Confidential Information From Other Agencies

A mentee’s or volunteer’s right to privacy shall be respected by the agency. Requests for confidential information from other organizations or persons shall be accompanied by a signed release from the mentor, mentee, and/or parent/guardian.

 

Violations of Confidentiality

A known violation of the agency policy on confidentiality by a program participant may result in a written warning or disciplinary action such as suspension or termination from the program.

Abuse/ Neglect Reporting Policy:  Adopted 12-21-20

It is the policy of Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County that all staff, mentors, and other representatives of the program must report any suspected child abuse and/or neglect of agency clients or program participants immediately. All such suspected reports must be made to the local child protective services. 

 

All employees, volunteers, and mentors of Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County are required to undergo training as to what constitutes child abuse and neglect, what the state statutes are, and how to properly report such cases.

 

Any staff, volunteers, or mentors accused of child abuse or neglect will be reported to the local child protective service agency. Contact with program youth will be restricted or constrained and/or the person in question suspended from employment or program participation per the decision of the executive director and board of directors until such investigation is concluded.  

Use of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco, and Firearms Policy: Adopted 12-21-20

Alcoholic Beverages: No participant of the Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County will consume beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages while actively engaged or prior to actively engaging in mentoring, nor shall any participant endorse the use of alcohol. Mentors and mentees may go to a location where minors are allowed and alcohol is served provided that the mentor and youth do not consume any alcohol.

 

Drugs: No participant of the Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County will manufacture, possess, distribute, or use any illegal substance while engaged in mentoring or otherwise.

 

Tobacco: The intent of Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County is to create a smoke- and tobacco-free environment. To that end, smoking and the use of all tobacco products is prohibited on the premises of Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County unless part of a cultural event or program and those involved with the program must refrain from the use of such products while engaged in mentoring. The use of tobacco products includes but is not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, snuff, or other matters or substances that contain tobacco.  The use of tobacco products for cultural/ spiritual purposes while mentoring is acceptable with prior approval of the parent/guardian.

 

Weapons, Firearms, and Other Dangerous Materials:  All firearms, toxic or dangerous chemicals, or other lethal weapons must be stored safely out of access to children and in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations. 

 

Any violation of this policy will result in the immediate suspension and/or termination of the mentoring relationship. In addition, violations of this policy may result in notification being given to legal authorities that may result in arrest or legal action, and may be punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.

Unacceptable Behavior Policy: Adopted 12-21-20

It is the policy of the Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County that unacceptable behaviors will not be tolerated on the part of mentors or mentees while participating in the program. This policy is in addition to behavioral requirements stipulated in other policies or procedures within this manual. This policy in no way is intended to replace or take precedence over other policies. 

 

A number of behaviors are regarded as incompatible with Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County goals, values, and program standards and therefore are considered unacceptable and prohibited while participants are engaged in mentoring activities:

 

  • Unwelcome physical contact, such as inappropriate touching, patting, pinching, punching, and physical assault

  • Unwelcome physical, verbal, visual, or behavioral mannerisms or conduct that denigrates, shows hostility, or aversion toward any individual 

  • Demeaning or exploitive behavior of either a sexual or nonsexual nature, including threats of such behavior

  • Display of demeaning, suggestive, or pornographic material

  • Known sexual abuse or neglect of a child

  • Denigration, public or private, of any mentee parent/guardian or family member 

  • Denigration, public or private, of political or religious institutions or their leaders 

  • Intentional violation of any local, state, or federal criminal law

  • Driving illegally under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • Possession of illegal substances

 

Any unacceptable behavior, as specified but not limited to the above, may result in disciplinary action including suspension or termination from participation in the mentoring program. 

COVID Policy: Adopted 12-21-20

All Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County participants (This includes parents/guardians, mentors, volunteers, and mentees) are expected to follow these guidelines through May 2021 with the possibility of extension. All matches must follow CDC guidelines for the duration of face-to-face meetings until the pandemic infection rate has declined and/or maintained at a level the CDC does not define as pandemic. Please contact us at executivedirector@kinshipcc.org with any questions.

 

  1. Mentors, parents/guardians and mentees must agree that they are comfortable meeting in person before EVERY outing and must commit to reviewing all guidelines BEFORE meeting. Matches understand that agreement to face-to-face outings may be withdrawn by either party temporarily if either party does not feel it is safe.  

  2. We recommend outdoor activities or activities in spaces with high ventilation. Pairs should not enter each other’s homes during this time.  Mentors should not take mentees into venues in which appropriate social distancing (6 feet) cannot be maintained consistently  or anyplace not approved by the parent or guardian.

  3. If parents/guardians, mentors or mentees  have an underlying medical condition that will impact the viability of the match relationship ongoing, they must notify Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County and, as appropriate/as they are comfortable, the other parties in the match relationship.

  4. Matches will notify Kinship staff if they or members of their family have symptoms of COVID-19. Also, matches cannot meet if there has been a known fever, a persistent cough, and/or any other COVID-19 symptoms in the house and not for at least two weeks following onset of symptoms.

  5. Matches will notify Kinship staff if they have had any exposure to someone (family member, friend, coworker) diagnosed with COVID-19, this person's date of diagnosis, and the date the match party last had contact with the diagnosed party.

  6. Matches with participants that have traveled commercially (i.e. plane, bus, train) must not meet for at least two weeks following.  

  7. All match participants must wear a mask or face shield for face-to-face outings. If the mentee does not have a mask and needs one, the mentor will be asked to provide one. If a mentor needs help in providing a mask for themselves or the mentee, Kinship staff will provide one for you. 

  8. Mentors should have hand sanitizer, hand sanitizing wipes, or other hand washing equipment on outings. Mentors and mentees must wash hands after contact with public surfaces, and before and after contact with their face.

  9. Mentors should limit transport to short distances and masks should be worn during the entire transport period since 6-feet of separation is not possible. Mentors must take reasonable steps to disinfect surfaces before and after transporting their mentees in their car - such as wiping or spraying handles, dashboards, seatbelts, etc.  

  10. Matches should continue to avoid physical contact as much as possible. 

  11. Overnight visits will not be permitted at this time. 

  12. Receiving a negative COVID-19 test does not exempt individuals from complying with this policy since contraction of the virus can take place following a negative test. 

 

Unless Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County issues additional recommendations, these guidelines will remain in place through May 31st 2021. At any time, Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County may temporarily renew face-to-face meeting prohibition.  Matches attest to understanding that Kinship Mentoring of Columbia County may modify its policies at any time and will communicate changes through several methods when doing so.