We’re approaching implmentation of our Volunteer Screening and there is a glaring question which has not really been discussed. It has been mentioned on one of the many other Volunteer Screening threads.
From the Youth Protection Act of 2004
To ensure success of critical mentor relationships, FIRST requires that all adults who plan to participate as a FIRST Team Mentor in the United States and work with the children on the team, complete and submit an “Adult Registration/Informed Consent Form for FIRST Programs” to the Team Leader using the form on the following page. The form is only required of adults who plan to participate on the team (Team Mentors). An adult is defined as any individual who is eighteen years of age or older.
From the Youth Protection FAQ which helps “clarify” this issue:
Who must be screened?
All Team Mentors must be screened. A Mentor is an adult (any individual eighteen years of age or older) who is an active member of the team and works frequently with the students. The Team Leader must screen her/himself and any parents/guardians acting as Mentors.
Parents/guardians or other adults who plan only on cheering the team at an event do not need to go through the background screening process. An adult who attends a single meeting with the team to share a skill, or present to the team, does not require screening.
Now, as I read this, any high school student who has reached the age of 18 must be screened. They have contact with children (the non-18 year old team members) both at high school and at FIRST activities.
Even though these students are probably in the “being mentored” category, by FIRST’s definition and clarification, they must be considered “mentors” and should be screened.
My team’s situation might provide some insight into FIRST’s mindset here.
Our team is from Simon’s Rock College of Bard. Basically, Simon’s Rock is the only college in the country designed for high school age students who want to go to college a couple years early. As a result, our team is mostly made up of kids under-18 who are officially enrolled in their high-schools but attend Simon’s Rock. FIRST said that when determining who was to be considered a student (and could legally handle the robot in competition, etc) and who was to be considered a mentor age didn’t matter. The determining factor was high school enrollment. We were allowed to count anyone duel-enrolled as a student, but anyone not enrolled in a high-school was to be considered a mentor. If FIRST is consistent in their definitions I think it is safe to extrapolate that 18 year old high school kids are students, not mentors and do not need to be screened, but 18 year old college students are mentors and need to be screened.
While I don’t know what FIRST’s views on the matter would be, Boy Scouts of America requires everyone over 18 (including HS seniors) to go through a similar process. What’s so magical about the number 18? I honestly don’t know, except that it means you’re a legally independant entity.
Just to clarify, the Boy Scouts of America program is for boys aged 11 to 17. At age 18, a “boy” is no longer eligible to be a scout. If he continues with a troop, it is as an adult leader, and he undergoes the same checks as other adult leaders. It’s not as if scouts fall into under/over age 18 categories, and only the ones over age 18 are required to have checks done.
I would assume this would include 18-year-old high school students, as they are considered legal adults. Unless FIRST issues a ruling specifically exempting 18-year-old high school students, I would be prepared to have them go through the same check process. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but the way the rules are currently worded, that’s the way it is.
According to your guidelines, anyone over 18 years of
age are defined to be mentors and must be screened.
Does this include currently enrolled high school
seniors who are turning 18 this year? It seems odd
that we have to screen a quarter of our team, even
though they are still high school students, have been
on the team in their past grades, and are subjected to
this rule due only to an early birthday. A
clarification would be greatly appreciated.
and received the following response from the Volunteer Resources Manager:
Your students do not need to be screened.
I think that settles it, and it’s the logical response.