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LOCAL GOVERNMENT VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS

This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs at the local level, including information for cities, counties, boards, commissions, and districts.

~June 2008~


Policies and Procedures Update

How often do you update your Supervisors Handbook?  I started this process about three years ago when our Engineering Department decided we needed to set up a system for volunteer computer usage.  It was then, that I realized we had never rerun background checks or driver’s licenses checks on our long-standing volunteers.  And what about identification cards – did we need a policy on that?  All these questions made me aware that, the Supervisors Manual definitely needed an update.


Since the primary role of the Volunteer Resources Group is to support and assist staff in utilizing volunteers and keeping them safe and productive, I needed to get the volunteer supervisors the info they needed as soon as possible.  So, I started the update. 
As Volunteer Resources Manager, sharing current topics and trends with volunteer supervisors will not only help them do their job better, but will help you do your job better.  Updating your policies and procedures provides direction and guidance for those using volunteers and will help keep your volunteers safer and your local government liability-free.
Below are a few of the new and updated policies and procedures in our Supervisors Handbook:
Background and Drivers Check Policy 

PURPOSE

The City of Plano values the safety of those who use its facilities and take part in its programs, either as participants, employees, or volunteers.  To this end, sound measures will be taken to protect those we serve from potential harm.

BACKGROUND VERIFICATION CHECKS

Each department requesting volunteers will complete the Volunteer Job Request form and indicate whether the position requires any of the following checks: criminal background check, polygraph, driver’s license record check, and/or reference check.  After the department supervisor reviews the volunteer application, interviews and accepts the volunteer, the requested checks will be conducted prior to the volunteer beginning work at the department. No volunteer whose position requires any of these checks will be allowed to volunteer until all required checks are complete.

  1. Criminal/Background Checks

Criminal background checks are required for the following volunteer situations:

    • For all volunteers who will have unsupervised contact with children as part of their volunteer activities; or
    • For all volunteers working with the Police Department (additional polygraphs will be done for long-term positions); or
    • For all volunteers who will handle City monies as a function of their volunteer activities.

     B. Driver’s License Record Checks

  • It is required that driver’s license checks are completed every two (2) years for any volunteer who will use either a City vehicle or his/her own personal vehicle in the scope of volunteer activities, including driving to/from City departments and retail stores. (This will be done in conjunction with Risk Management’s Drivers License Checks every other year.)  NOTE:  A volunteer’s personal insurance policy will provide the primary coverage for any and all damages to a volunteer’s vehicle.

Police Department checks will be processed by and through the Plano Police Department along with a polygraph test for long-term volunteers.  Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Fire Department, youth coaches, and other department checks will be sent through VERIFYI, the North Texas Volunteer Center system.  

If volunteer applicants do not meet the parameters of these checks, depending on the nature of the prior infraction(s), they may be eligible to apply for another volunteer position where the nature of the position will allow more flexibility.

Criminal/Background Checks will include:

  • Social Security number verification, including address trace
  • Criminal records check for all misdemeanor and felony convictions within the State of Texas and/or United States
  • Texas Sex and Violent Offender Registry
  1. Criminal Offenses

A volunteer’s application shall be DENIED if any check reveals that the applicant has been convicted of any crime involving the following:

  • Violence or threats of violence
  • Weapons offenses
  • Sexual offenses involving any type of physical contact
  • Theft, Class B Misdemeanor or above
  • Burglary

Regarding Community Service hours for court-ordered volunteers, the Volunteer Resources office will work with Probation Officers and individuals in order to satisfy the community service component of a conviction, providing the conviction is NOT for any of the offenses listed above.  The types of offenses which may be considered by the Volunteer Resources office for community service completion include the following:

  • Non-violent felony offenses
  • Misdemeanor offenses
  • Traffic violations
  1. Traffic Violations  (ref.: City of Plano Authorization for Motor Vehicle Records Check application form)

All volunteers whose positions require a Texas driver’s license must meet and maintain the following driving history requirements:

    • No more than two (2) moving traffic violations and/or accidents recorded against the applicant’s driver’s license by any licensing agency within the preceding twenty-four (24) month period; and
    • No more than four (4) moving violations and/or accidents recorded against the applicant’s driver’s license by any licensing agency during the preceding thirty-six (36) month period; and
    • No DWI or DUI conviction during the preceding thirty-six (36) month period.

If these standards are not met, the volunteer will be excluded from consideration for any volunteer position requiring a driver’s license.

CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT FORMS

The City of Plano collects and maintains private and confidential information while carrying out its functions and operations.  Volunteers working in a variety of areas may be required to sign a Confidentiality Agreement specific to a particular department where confidential information may be present.  These departments include, but are not exclusive to, the Police Department, Fire Department, Municipal Court Administration, the Municipal Judge, and the Human Resources Department.

COMPUTER USAGE  (ref.:  City of Plano Policies and Procedures #224)

Personal computers (PCs), laptop computers and peripheral equipment (printers, modems, hubs, switches, and other devices attached to a PC are provided by the City and are City-owned resources which should be used only for City business with which a volunteer may have access.  Except in certain circumstances, all information transmitted or stored on City equipment is public and subject to disclosure as required by law. Volunteer supervisors should coordinate with the Information Services by calling the Help Desk to identify the scope and extent of a volunteer’s access to the City’s computer network and files.

Volunteers are prohibited from storing any personal information on City-owned computer equipment. Personal information, both e-mails and data files, must be stored on personally-owned storage medium (zip disc, CD, portable drives, etc.).  

The City has defined a standard software configuration for each PC. Volunteers are not authorized to modify this software or install new software for any reason.

Malfunctioning computer equipment should be immediately reported to the volunteer’s supervisor, who will then report it to his/her designated representative for maintenance.

WORKERS’  COMPENSATION

All volunteers are covered by the City of Plano’s Workers’ Compensation Policy in case of an injury while volunteering at City departments and functions.  Injuries, no matter how slight, MUST be reported to the volunteer’s supervisor who will indicate to the volunteer the proper paperwork to complete and proper reporting procedure to the Risk Management Division. NOTE: For coverage, volunteers MUST be signed up through the VIP Program.

NOTE THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTION:  Court-ordered volunteers are not covered under the City of Plano Workers’ Compensation Policy.

IDENTIFICATION CARDS  (ref.:  City of Plano Policies and Procedures #202)

For security purposes, volunteers may be issued a City of Plano identification card to be used for identification purposes, as appropriate.  A card may be authorized for identification purposes for a volunteer during a public function where he/she may be representing the City, i.e., working with children at a recreation center, etc.  This card will not give access to any City building with a card access security system.

Whether or not a volunteer needs such a card, is determined by each department on a case by case basis.  Should a card be required, written authorization must be received by the Human Resources Department.  Cards are made in the Human Resources Department between 8:00am and 4:00pm, Monday through Friday only, and must be returned to the Human Resources Department at the completion of the volunteer’s service.

 

Although our Supervisors Handbook has not been reprinted, I do keep an updated copy of the policies and procedures and volunteer forms on a City shared drive for all supervisors to refer to.  I also sent the revised version of the policies and procedures out by email, making all volunteer supervisors aware of the changes. I wasn’t surprised when I received a number of calls asking me to please help them run new background and driver’s license checks for their long-standing volunteers. Other supervisors called about the computer usage policy, identification cards, and the confidentiality policy. 

If you would like to share what you are doing with your local government policies, please email me at robinp@plano.gov, and I will share the information with the readers of Volunteer Today.

 

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Short description of this series: "Organizations are successful at achieving their mission when volunteers and staff are a team. Evaluate the elements of the relationships in your organization and outline the strategies to make things better."

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The author of the Local Government Volunteer Programs page is Robin Popik. Robin has been the Volunteer Resources Supervisor for the City of Plano for over 17 years. Under her direction, the Volunteer Resources Group now has grown to encompass 3 programs. The original program VIP has grown to approx. 5000 volunteers per year, with an average of 1000 individuals a month, with a value of over $1.2 million a year. The program has been recognized as a model and has won numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Volunteer Administration, the Civic and Leadership group award and the Texas Governors Leadership Award. Robin is President of Collin County VOAD (Volunteer Organization Active in Disaster) and is the Citizen Corp Council representative for Plano. She has been a trainer and has written articles on many topics related to Volunteer Management. She is the past president the National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government, and member of ARNOVA, an international membership organization dedicated to fostering through research an understanding of the nonprofit sector, philanthropy and volunteerism. She has a Masters in Management from the University of Texas at Dallas and a certification in Volunteer Management from the University of Colorado, and in the past few years, has taking numerous courses in Emergency Volunteer Management including FEMA courses: 1) Emergency Operation Center; 2) Incident Command Systems; 3) Donations Management; 4) Volunteer Management in Disaster; 5) CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Program, 6) Public Information Officer course (4/04) and Integrated Emergency Management Course at EMI (8/04), NIMS 700, 100, and 200 and American Red Cross Shelter Management.

ASSOCIATION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT VOLUNTEER MANAGERS SEEKS MEMBERS

The National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) is an association of administrators, coordinators and directors of volunteer programs in local government. Its purpose is to strengthen volunteer programs in local government through leadership, advocacy, networking and information exchange. NAVPLG is an affiliate of the National Association of Counties and is seeking affiliate status with the National League of Cities. Cost is $20 for individuals and $75 for group local government membership. An affiliate membership is $25 and is intended for those who are not local government members but may have an interest in the group. There is a quarterly newsletter, national network, and access to NACo's Volunteerism Project. For more information contact Robin Popik, who is a Volunteer Resource Supervisor. She can be reached by phone at 972-941-7114. Be sure to mention you read about this in Volunteer Today.


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