Nova Scotia Youth Safety FAQs

Q: Can one Trained Leader supervise a meeting accompanied by two junior leaders?

No. Junior Leader is a project for members in Nova Scotia, and they have not completed screening or training.  While these members are taking on additional responsibility, they are still members and cannot be alone with the adult leader or expected to take on the responsibility of reporting an incident involving the leader or other members.

Q: What are the protocols when limiting numbers in a project to ensure we are adhering to the Inclusion Policy? For example, the beef project requires leaders with experience in the beef project who can assist and ensure safety. Therefore, parents staying at the meetings doesn’t really suffice as additional hands because they don’t have the qualifications.

Parents who are not skilled in the project area should only be fulfilling supervisory roles.  (ie. they would not be expected to handle animals or equipment).  These parents are there in case of an emergency to assist with first aid and as an adult who members can come to with any concerns.  Currently leaders limit the number of members in their projects based on their evaluation of safe numbers in any given environment (for example, a maximum number of members in a woodworking workshop.)  This will not change as safety is the number one concern.  Individual clubs will set their protocol for how members are accepted into a project (first come, first served, lottery, rotation annually, etc.).  It is important to ensure that enrollment limits and the selection process are made publicly available during registration (ie. Woodworking – Maximum of six members accepted per year, selected via random draw). When possible, more skilled leaders can be recruited to accommodate more members.

Q: Will there be a negative connotation that comes with filing reports? For example, if a leader is alone with youth, whether waiting for the second leader or not, a report must be filled out. This could deter them from filling out the report.

There is no negative connotation associated with filing an incident report. The purpose of filing incident reports is to clearly document the incident should questions arise at a later time and is for the protection of the leader. Leaders are responsible for filling out an incident report each time the rule of two is not met.  Activities should be planned with two leaders in attendance and ask parents to stay until the second leader arrives to avoid this situation.

Q: There was discussion about leaders/parents addressing misconduct concerns verbally before resorting to filling out a report. What is the protocol there?

Parents, members, volunteers, or leaders can file an incident report if they feel an issue needs to be brought to the attention of 4-H Nova Scotia.  However, we encourage everyone to discuss minor incidents at club level to look for resolutions before moving to that step.  Please refer to Appendix A in Youth Safety at 4H in Canada for a table of reportable and non-reportable incidents.

Q: If a leader does not have screening or training complete, could they become an unscreened guest and continue to lead their project under the supervision of two trained leaders/volunteers on an ongoing basis?

No.  Being a repeat instructor places them in a position of trust with the members.  Therefore, they should follow through with the training and screening in order to be able to best serve the members.  

Q: How long is screening good for?

Leaders screened prior to September 1, 2020 will expire on the date noted on their volunteer card (five years).  Starting September 1, 2020 new screening will expire after three years.

Q: How do we take or give telephone calls? If a leader makes a telephone call to a member, does that need to be documented? Ie. To connect with someone who only has a home phone.

Leaders should communicate with members in writing, via email or text, and have another screened volunteer and parent copied on the message and replies.  Phone calls should be made to parents if necessary, to arrange meetings, or have parents listening on speakerphone to the conversation if providing instructions/project information to the member.  One-on-one communication is to be avoided.  If this occurs, file an incident report.

Q: Self-determined projects are supervised by parents. Are these activities covered by 4-H insurance?

No.  This is the same as someone doing project work outside of a project meeting.

Q: Can a parent and child co-lead?

Yes, there is no legal reason why they cannot. However, we would encourage a third leader/volunteer to be available as an unbiased adult that a member can reach out to if there is an incident.

Q: Why can spouses not co-lead a project?

4-H Nova Scotia appreciates the knowledge and enthusiasm brought to projects by husband and wife teams or other family combinations. 4-H Nova Scotia hopes this continues with the addition of another Trained Leader or Screened Volunteer at project meetings.  We want our members to have an unbiased adult to communicate any issues/incidents to and do not want to place any leader in an awkward position of needing to file an incident report on a family member.

This also applies to common-law spouses.

Q: Why do leaders need to be four years older than the members?

Best practices require a four-year age difference between the trained leader or screened volunteer and the members they are supervising.  This is to ensure they are not part of the same peer-group and that they have sufficient maturity to provide leadership/supervision to the members.  (For example, a 22-year-old may have trouble maintaining authority over 20-year-old members).

Q: How do we recruit parent volunteers?

  1. A letter to parents inviting them to be part of the 4-H “family”. Explaining that their attendance at meetings is vital to helping members feel supported, understanding the program and requirements, and helping leaders meet supervision ratios.  This letter can also list events where extra helping hands or organizers are needed (ie. rally, fundraisers, fun activities).
  2. Volunteer Screening packages – make it easy for these to be filled out at the same time the member registers.
  3. Parent Party – Early in the 4-H year (November), have a parent party to welcome new parents, explain different events, and to find out what activities they would be interested in helping with. Some clubs also use this as an opportunity to fill out volunteer reference forms for new volunteers.

Q: How can we meet the Rule of Two requirements at project meetings?

  1. Meeting at a central location so multiple life-skills meetings can happen simultaneously.
  2. Recruiting parents or 4-H alumni as screened volunteers.
  3. Invite producers who regularly lend animals, perhaps they would be interested in being screened and becoming more involved.
  4. Co-leading. A team of leaders could work together to provide two projects. One taking the lead on each project, while the other provides supervision and alternate meetings.
  5. Share leadership between clubs or offer a county project.

Q: How can we coordinate two leaders’ and members’ schedules?

Set a schedule which works for the Trained Leaders and Screened Volunteers. By setting a regular meeting schedule (ie. third Thursday of the month) which is announced at registration, members and families can choose if this meeting time works for them or select another project.  We all try to be accommodating, but part of 4-H is also learning to make choices and taking responsibility.   

Q: Can junior leaders (14+) and those members over the age of majority (19+) help satisfy supervision ratios? Leaders indicated that for Woodsman, in particular, several seniors could really help out. Slide 16 can be interpreted that they can help out but that a leader and a screened parent still must be present.

Column F would pertain to our junior leaders and senior members.  They do not contribute to the supervision ratios because they are members.

“Youth Leaders” (Column E) is a term used in other provinces and is a step up from being a member. Nova Scotia does not have this category.  Our Camp Counsellors would only count toward supervision ratios in the camp setting and in the role they are trained for.

Q: Must leaders take the completed/signed event activity plans with them to the event?

Yes. For events which required an event plan, the leader in charge should have the event plan on site and access to emergency contact/medical information for the participants.

Q: How old does a screened volunteer need to be? Can they be in same family, if not a spouse?

A Screened Volunteer or Leader must be at least 19 years old, and not registered as a member.  They can be in the same family as the leader they share supervision duties with, but not a spouse.

Q: What is going to happen to smaller clubs? It is really hard to get volunteers

4-H Nova Scotia is working to recruit more screened volunteers through social media and will assist clubs with registration/screening packages. Parents will be essential to the success of the program and enabling clubs to meet supervision requirements.

Q: During interviews for National Awards or the Ambassador competition, members are typically interviewed in a private room with two or more guest judges. What will the process be in the future?

The interview between the member and two guest judges should be supervised by a Trained Leader. The leader may be in the same room or outside a door which remains ajar.

Q: Are AECs required to take Commit to Kids, Leader Training, and be screened?

No, AECs are employees of the Department of Agriculture which defines their training and screening requirements. 4-H Nova Scotia holds no liability for their actions.

Q: How are incident reports accessed and used? Leaders have concerns around the duty to report and confidentiality.

Incident reports are filed electronically. A limited number of authorized persons are permitted access to the information and those individuals must adhere to privacy laws in the handling of personal or sensitive matters.

Q: Is there going to be a prerequisite for leaders to have first aid training?

At this time, 4-H Nova Scotia has not made first aid training mandatory for leaders. We do encourage leaders to participate in first aid training and offer a discounted rate for all members and leaders through St.John Ambulance. Clubs may contact 4-H Nova Scotia to arrange a training session. When planning multi-club or high-risk activities, organizers should ensure first aid is available and part of the event plan

Q: Are the following situations covered by insurance in case of property damage or injury? A. A trained leader working one-on-one with their own child to lead a project meeting (ie. if no other members signed up for the project they lead). B. A trained leader working alone or with their own children, doing cleaning or repairs in the 4-H barn.

No. Our liability and participant accident insurance is only in place for sanctioned meetings/events that are following all of the youth safety practices – especially the Rule of Two. Independent project work at home, even if the parent is a leader, is not covered by insurance.

Coverage for individuals working independently in the 4-H barn would be covered only if the property was listed in the policy and the work was requested by a 4-H group (club, county council, committee).

Q: Adults only being allowed to check in on a room without entering means the members can prepare in advance to hide any alcohol or inappropriate substances. Can room inspections or bag checks be performed?

If holding an event with older youth members, you should discuss and remind them of the Code of Conduct expectations and consequences in advance. If a bag check is required, it should be communicated to youth and families in advance, and two leaders should be present. If there is a concern of unsafe behavior (alcohol/drug use) then two leaders may enter the room together to ensure everyone is safe. First ensure all youth are appropriately dressed before entering.

Q: For overnight events are there additional supervision requirements regarding a ratio of male and female chaperones to male and female participants?

At minimum, the overnight Programming Supervision Ratios must be met, and you must have at least one leader/chaperone of the same sex as youth attending in order to conduct safe room checks and provide appropriate assistance to youth as required. Ideally you would balance the leaders to the youth attending, but there are no specific ratios.

Q: Nova Scotia Community Services only deals with youth up until the age of 18. Members 19 and over must file a report themselves with the RCMP or local police. What action should a leader take in this case?

While a leader cannot file an abuse report for an adult member, they can provide support to the victim (perhaps while they report to police or get other supports) and complete a 4-H incident report to document steps taken in their role as a 4-H leader. To maintain the privacy of those involved, only include specifics of the abuse if it warrants follow-up within 4-H

Q: If a leader helps make arrangements for a member to borrow an animal from a farm, and the member is abused while at the farm, is 4-H or that Leader responsible?

No, parents are responsible for supervising independent project work. The arrangement to borrow an animal is between the parents and animal owner.

Q: What are examples of projects which are considered high-risk and should submit an event plan outlining proposed project activities & locations for the year?

Tug of War, Woodsmen, Archery, Shooting Sports, Welding, Woodworking, Great Outdoors, Foods, and Large Livestock. Trained leaders can submit a plan which outlines the location of meetings, safety precautions, and emergency protocols that will be followed throughout the year. Any project which engages in a high-risk activity – such as using tools or equipment – should fill out an event plan for that specific meeting.

Q: Are the requirements solely and specifically for 4-H events and 4-H related correspondence? Ie. as hockey managers and coaches, we communicate with hockey players (who are also 4-H members) via electronic communication and provide transportation.

4-H Leaders acting in a personal capacity as a coach or family friend, outside of a sanctioned 4-H event/activity, may continue to interact with youth in their community. 4-H does not provide liability insurance to any event or action which does not follow Youth Safety at 4-H in Canada policies.

Q: Leaders may employ 4-H members (on a farm for example), are discussions, texts, emails etc. exempt from copying parents and another leader if they did not pertain to a 4-H activity?

As above, this would be a personal relationship outside of the 4-H program. For County Councils employing a 4-H member as a summer student, supervising leaders should follow all policies as outlined in the Youth Safety at 4-H in Canada policies.

Q: If members arrive on their own to train a calf on a farm where the owner is the 4-H leader, does the Rule of Two apply for every training period?

No. The Rule of Two applies to planned 4-H activities. Independent project work by a member is to be supervised by the member’s parent/guardian and they assume responsibility for any accidents/incidents which may occur. It is suggested that livestock owners communicate expectations directly with parents regarding acceptable training times, biosecurity, safety, and supervision. This is a personal arrangement between the animal owner and parents/guardians. If the animal owner is also a 4-H Leader, they must clearly communicate that they are not acting as a leader outside of planned project meetings. Leaders, please note that although you may not be acting in the capacity of a leader, you still hold a position of trust. Using the Youth Safety information in a personal capacity is a best practice and provides additional protection to members and yourself.

Q: We have a parent who is deaf. To be inclusive, will this training be offered in closed captioning so they can become a leader?

4-H Nova Scotia can provide individuals with a hearing disability with the slideshow presentation and speaker notes. One-on-one follow-up can be done with the individual to address any questions and concerns about the material.

Q: If you only have your own child and your nephew in a project, do you still need two leaders present for all meetings? Could the nephew’s parent stay (not screened) or would a report have to be filed if that happened?

For the meeting to be considered a 4-H event, one trained leader and an additional trained leader or screened volunteer must be present. This could be achieved by the parent becoming screened. All meetings must be planned to meet rule of two requirements. i.e. you cannot plan to not meet requirements and file reports.

Alternatively, the members have these options:
1) Participate in project meetings with another club. Members can attend with another club to gain project support. Leaders can also participate with another club to meet Rule of Two and supervision requirements.
2) Start a county project with members from all clubs being supervised by a trained leader and screened volunteer from any club. For example, some counties offer Horse or Dog Obedience at a county level.
3) Undertake independent project work. Parents would be required to provide supervision for all project work and 4-H insurance does not cover these activities

Q: Nova Scotia usually only sends one chaperone to the National Dairy Conference. Will this change with the new supervision rules?

This would fall under the Travel Policy. Members can travel alone or with one chaperone until they get to their destination using a travel plan which parents have consented to. When members and chaperones arrive, chaperoning will be shared with other provinces to meet Youth Safety requirements.

Q: Can one trained leader host an in-person meeting with members, while a second trained leader or screened volunteer joins the meeting via Zoom?

There must always be one trained leader along with an additional trained leader or screened volunteer onsite for in-person meetings. To properly fulfill the supervision requirements the leader/volunteers must be within sightlines and earshot of one another. A leader on Zoom may walk away from the computer at any time. In addition, a second leader/volunteer is needed on-site to help if there is an emergency or health issue.