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Safety

The emotional and physical safety and well-being of Girl Scouts is our top priority. Safety Activity Checkpoints outlines the Safety Standards and Guidelines used in Girl Scouting, which apply to all Girl Scout activities.

For current COVID-19 guidelines, check your local council’s version of Safety Activity Checkpoints.

All volunteers should review the Safety Activity Checkpoints manual when planning activities with girls in order to manage safety and risk in Girl Scout-sanctioned activities.

Girl Scouts of Central Texas Safety Activity Checkpoints can be found at http://www.gsctx.org/SAC.

More Info on Safety Activity Checkpoints and Understanding Volunteer Safety Ratios

In Safety Activity Checkpoints, you’ll find:

  • Girl Scout Activity Safety Standards and Guidelines with requirements for adult supervision, permission slips, preparation, field trips and overnight trips, transporting girls, and other vital information 
  • Activities that are not permitted by GSUSA, and actions that girls and volunteers should not take
  • Policies surrounding chartered aircraft trips and aviation
  • First-aid and overall health information you’ll need from the girls
  • Standards for well-being and inclusivity, including working with girls with disabilities and ensuring emotional safety
  • A breakdown of specific activities—such as camping, internet use, and water sports—and their individual safety checkpoints 

Following the Safety Standards and Guidelines is an Activity-at-a-Glance chart which details two critical points to keep in mind:

  • Age-appropriate activities and participation by grade level
  • Whether prior approval from your council is required before girls participate in a specific activity

Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need

From camping weekends to cookie booths, adult volunteers must always be present to ensure their girls have fun and stay safe, no matter their grade level. 

Not sure just how many adults you’ll need for your activity? The helpful chart below breaks down the minimum number of volunteers needed to supervise a specific number of girls; councils may also establish maximums due to size or cost restrictions, so be sure to check with them as you plan your activity. 

Health & Well-Being of Girls and Reporting Guidelines

There may be times when you worry about the health and well-being of girls in your group. Alcohol, drugs, sex, bullying, abuse, depression, and eating disorders are some of the issues girls may encounter. You are on the frontlines of girls’ lives, and you are in a unique position to identify a situation in which a girl may need help. If you believe a girl is at risk of hurting herself or others, your role is to promptly bring that information to her parent/caregiver or the council so she can get the expert assistance she needs. Your concern about a girl’s well-being and safety is taken seriously, and GSCTX will guide you in addressing these concerns. 

Contact a staff member at GSCTX to find out how to refer the girl and her parent/guardian to experts at school or in the community.

Share your concern with the girl’s family, if this is feasible.

Here are a few signs that could indicate a girl needs expert help:

  • Marked changes in behavior or personality (for example, unusual moodiness, aggressiveness, or sensitivity)
  • Declining academic performance and/or inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from school, family activities, or friendships
  • Fatigue, apathy, or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased secretiveness
  • Deterioration in appearance and personal hygiene
  • Eating extremes, unexplained weight loss, distorted body image
  • Tendency toward perfectionism
  • Giving away prized possessions; preoccupation with the subject of death
  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, burns, or fractures
  • Avoidance of eye contact or physical contact
  • Excessive fearfulness or distrust of adults
  • Abusive behavior toward other children, especially younger ones

Child Abuse Prevention and Reporting Guidelines
Girl Scouts of Central Texas supports and maintains environments that are free of child abuse, including but not limited to sexual abuse, and neglect.

Child abuse and neglect are defined as any recent act or failure to act which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

Sexual abuse is defined as the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of such conduct for producing any visual depiction of such conduct; or rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.

Child abuse and neglect are unlawful acts and it is against GSCTX’s policy for any volunteer of employee to physically, sexually, or mentally abuse or neglect any member.

Signs of Suspected Child Abuse

  • Physical Abuse
    Possible signs of physical abuse include:
    • Unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
    • Seem frightened of the parents or caregiver and protests or cries when it is time to go home
    • Is usually hungry or states lack of food

  • Neglect
    Possible signs of neglect include:
    • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
    • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
    • States that there is no one at home to provide care

  • Sexual Abuse
    Possible signs of sexual abuse include:
    • Has difficulty walking or sitting
    • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
    • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver

Child Abuse Reporting Policy
When a girl member tells an employee, or volunteer, that she has been the victim of child abuse or neglect, as defined in the organization’s policy, that employee or volunteer is required to immediately report the alleged abuse to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In addition, any employee or volunteer that suspects that a child has been the victim of child abuse or neglect is required to immediately report the suspected abuse to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.  It is also expected that an employee, or volunteer, who witnesses or suspects a girl member is intentionally hurting herself will report the incident or suspicion to their Membership Staff representative .

Procedure for Reporting Child Abuse

  1. Girl discloses that she has been: physically abused/neglected by a parent, guardian, or authority figure.
    • Remember: things like witnessing domestic violence, being denied food, parents kicking the child out of the house, failure to provide health care all constitute abuse/neglect.
  2. Explain that you are concerned and that you may need to refer this matter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
    • Try to gather as much information as possible about the situation, but remember that your role is NOT “investigator”.
  3. IMMEDIATELY call the Texas Abuse Hotline: 1-800-252-5400 or go online to the Texas Abuse Hotline website.
    • Remember to give as much information as the girl has given you and refrain from giving your personal opinions or assumptions about the situation.
  4. If a case is open, do as the hotline worker instructs. If a case is NOT open, remember to make a confidential notation in your files that you called to make a report, but a case was not opened. Note the hotline worker’s name.
    • If you believe that a case should be opened, ask to speak with a Hotline Supervisor.
    • Regardless if case is open or not, always notify your GSCTX Membership staff.
  5. Continue meeting with the girl as usual. Remind her that you are a source of support and she can always come to you in the future with any other concerns. Make a safety plan together and identify additional adults who she can contact, and identify what she can do if she is in an unsafe situation.
    • Continue to consult with your GSCTX Membership staff for support and guidance on the situation.

Documentation
When speaking to a child do not ask any leading questions. You should note only the information the child reports.

When child abuse is suspected, document the following information as clearly as possible:

  • Family contact information.
  • What is the nature and extent of injury, abuse or maltreatment, or neglect, including prior evidence of same?
  • What are the circumstances under which you became aware of the injuries, abuse or maltreatment or neglect?
  • What action(s) have been taken thus far to treat, shelter, or otherwise assist the child(ren) to deal with the situation?

Note: GSCTX does provide Youth Protection Training as a resource to our volunteers who regularly interact with children through Girl Scouting.

Questions? Contact Customer Care at 1-800-733-0011 or http://www.gsctx.org/contactus

GSCTX Criminal Background Check and Registration Guidelines

A Safety-Wise adult is an adult volunteer that is a registered member of GSCTX and has an eligible Criminal Background Check (CBC) through GSCTX's preferred vendor, Verified Volunteers, and is considered "in-ratio" as a responsible party per the adult-to-girl ratio guidelines in the Safety section of Volunteer Essentials.

A Safety-Wise adult must be 18 years of age or older.

 An Eligible, Unexpired CBC and Girl Scout Membership is REQUIRED to…

  • Be considered an in-ratio responsible adult (Safety-Wise adult)
  • Travel with your child's troop as a part of an approved Activity and Travel Application
  • Travel as a troop with an approved Activity and Travel Application to a non-GSCTX sponsored event or location
  • Participate in any overnight or resident camp
  • Drive any child other than your own child as a part of a Girl Scout event (to or from)
  • To participate at any cookie booth with any child other than your own child
  • To handle any money involved with Girl Scouts at the troop or service unit level (example Troop Cookie Coordinator or Service Unit Event Coordinator)

An Eligible, Unexpried CBC and Girl Scout Membership is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to...

  • Attend a non-drop off GSCTX sponsored event, being responsible for only your own child
  • Be present as a non-Safety-Wise adult at any troop meeting or activity that does not require an Activity and Travel Application (troop leaders and/or designated, in-ratio Safety-Wise adults would be the responsible parties present)
  • Collaborator, partner, or guest speakers working with a troop (troop leaders and/or the designated, in-ratio Safety-Wise adults would be the responsible parties present)

Criminal Background Checks

During registration for a membership, an adult is asked if he or she wishes to be an “adult” or a “volunteer” member. Choosing volunteer and selecting a volunteer role associated with a troop or service unit (such as “Troop Leader” or “Troop Friends and Family”) will initiate Volunteer Systems to automatically check to see if there is an eligible, unexpired criminal background check report on file for that adult. If not, the system will automatically authorize GSCTX’s third-party criminal background check vendor to send the adult an email invitation to complete a background check. No interaction of staff is typically required for this process to occur. Paper criminal background check forms are also available for potential volunteers without internet or who speak Spanish and can be manually processed by staff with the third-party criminal background check vendor.

Criminal background check reports are generated by the third-party criminal background check company, which follows the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Federal and State guidelines. The background check consists of looking at the National Criminal Database, the Government Watch List Search (OFAC), and the 50 State Department of Justice Sex Offender Database (RSO DJO). Criminal records are verified at the source to ensure they are accurate.

If no criminal activity is contained in the generated background check report, adults are considered “eligible” and automatically placed into their selected volunteer role in Volunteer Systems. If criminal activity is found, GSCTX follows an adverse action process which includes determining restrictions, if any, that will be placed on the adult’s capacity to volunteer with GSCTX. As part of the process, every adult will be given the opportunity to respond to the criminal background check report and ask for a decision to be re-reviewed.

The Council will maintain the confidentiality of all Criminal Background Check information. When a volunteer is restricted or disqualified from a volunteer position, the troop leader, service team leads, and appropriate staff are only notified of the restriction/disqualification, not the details (report) of the background check.

Volunteer applicants whose records indicate a history of child abuse, violent crime, or sexual crimes will be denied a position. At the discretion of the council, volunteer applicants may be denied a position or have restrictions placed on their volunteer capacity due to financial irresponsibility or drug and alcohol related offenses. The response to any other criminal reports will be reviewed and determined on an individual basis, at the discretion and judgment of the council. If an applicant or a member of their household has been convicted of a crime against a child, to the best of our ability, we will not knowingly place the applicant in a position that involves direct contact with girls.

Transporting Girls

Starting October 1, 2021, each volunteer who will be transporting girls will need to complete a Volunteer Driver form. This form is used in conjunction with the Criminal Background Check to determine driving eligibility. The form must be filled out annually and will expire on 09/30 of the current membership year.

Transporting Girls

How parents decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout meeting places is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility.
For planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities (outside the normal meeting time and place) in which a group will be transported in private vehicles keep in mind the following:

  • Every driver must be registered for the current membership year as an approved volunteer and have cleared a background screening.
  • Each driver must be at least 21 years old, have at least 5 years of driving experience, and driving a registered/insured vehicle.
  • If a group is traveling in one vehicle, there must be at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers in the vehicle, one of whom is female. In addition, the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need” section must be followed.
  • If a group is traveling in more than one vehicle, the entire group must consist of at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers, one of whom is female, and the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need” section must be followed. Care should be taken so that a single car is not separated from the group for an extended length of time.
  • Vehicles for private transportation includes private passenger vehicles, rental cars, privately owned or rented recreational vehicles and campers, chartered buses, chartered boats and chartered flights.
  • Each driver of motorized private transportation must be at least 21 years old and hold a valid operator’s license appropriate to the vehicle. In addition, state laws must be followed, even if they are more stringent than the guidelines here.
  • Anyone who is driving a vehicle with 12 or more passengers must be a professional driver who possesses a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Note, you must check with your membership staff to determine specific rules about renting large vehicles. Fifteen-passenger vans are not recommended. If a 15-passenger van is used, it may transport a maximum of 12 passengers (including driver).

Vehicle Safety

  • Prohibited: Never transport girls in flatbed or panel trucks, in the bed of a pickup, or in a camper-trailer.
  • Keep directions and road map in the car, along with a first aid kit and flashlight.
  • Check the lights, signals, tires, windshield wipers, horns, and fluid levels before each trip and check them periodically on long trips.
  • The driver and all passengers are required to wear seat belts at all times.
  • The child restraint requirements of the jurisdiction(s) you are traveling in must be followed according to state law. TEXAS REQUIREMENTS: https://www.dmv.org/tx-texas/safety-laws.php.
  • Drivers must not talk or text on a cell phone or other personal electronic device while driving. If talking is necessary, a hands-free device must be used.
  • Avoid driving for extended periods at night, when tired, or when taking medication that makes you drowsy.
  • Plan rest stops every few hours; if driving with others, prearrange stopping places along the  way. When planning longer trips, arrange for relief drivers.

Non-negotiable Private Transportation Information

  • Even though written agreements are always required when renting or chartering, you are not authorized to sign an agreement or contract, except for rental car agreements, even if there is no cost associated with the rental. Such agreements must instead be signed by the person designated by your council.
  • Check with your membership staff to make sure you are following accepted practices when using private transportation. This ensures that both you and your council are protected by liability insurance in the event of an accident.
  • If your council has given permission to use a rented car, read all rental agreements to be sure you comply with their terms and avoid surprises. For example, in many cases the minimum age of drivers is 25, and the maximum age is often under 70. In addition, make sure the car is adequately insured and you know who is responsible for damage to, or loss of, the vehicle. Finally, ensure you have a good paper trail that shows the vehicle rental is Girl Scout–related.
  • Obtain parent/guardian permission for any use of transportation outside of the meeting place.

In Case of Automobile Accident

  1. Call the nearest law enforcement agency. A responsible adult must remain at the scene of the accident and ensure that nothing at the scene is disturbed until arrival of the law enforcement official.
  2. Obtain the following information from the other driver(s) and on vehicle(s) involved (this is in addition to the law enforcement agency that may be obtaining this information):
    • Make of vehicle(s), year, color, state and license plate number(s).
    • Name and address, phone number and driver’s license number of driver(s) involved and passengers’ names and addresses and phone numbers.
    • Name of insurance company(s) covering drivers(s)/vehicle(s) involved.
  3. Record a brief description of what happened and the time it occurred. Make a sketch of the road situation where the accident occurred. Note the position of:
    • Vehicles
    • Visibility
    • Other pertinent information
    • Weather
    • Road hazards
    • Comply with all requirements regarding the submission of accident reports.
  4. Prepare a written report and participate in any other follow-up,  if asked by GSCTX representative.
Travel Insurance

GSCTX requires that all trips lasting more than two nights/three days purchase activity insurance for all registered Girl Scouts. Insurance must be purchased one week prior to trip/event.

For all events held in the name of Girl Scouts of Central Texas that non-members may attend, it is required that additional insurance is purchased.

To purchase insurance, please fill out and submit the Insurance Request Form.

Incident Reporting

What to do if there is an accident:
Although you hope the worst never happens, you must observe council procedures for handling accidents and fatalities. At the scene of an accident, first provide all possible care for the injured person. Follow established council procedures for obtaining medical assistance and immediately reporting the emergency. To do this, you must always have on hand the names and telephone numbers of council staff, parents/guardians and emergency services such as the police, fire department or hospital. 

To contact GSCTX to report an emergency:

  • During business hours, call our main line 1-800-733-0011. 
  • After business hours, talk to the Emergency Answering Service by calling our main line 1-800-733-0011, then press the indicated number to reach them.

After receiving a report of an accident, council staff will immediately arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed, and will notify parents/guardians, as appropriate. If a Girl Scout needs emergency medical care as the result of an accident or injury, first contact emergency medical services, and then follow council procedures for accidents and incidents, which may include filling out an Accident or Incident Report Form. Your adherence to these procedures is critical, especially with regard to notifying parents or guardians. If the media is involved, let council-designated staff discuss the incident with media representatives.

In the event of a fatality or other serious accident, the police must be notified and a responsible volunteer must remain at the scene at all times. In the case of a fatality, do not disturb the victim or surroundings and follow police instructions. Do not share information about the accident with anyone but the police, your council and, if applicable, insurance representatives or legal counsel.

To contact GSCTX to report an emergency:

  • During business hours, call our main line 1-800-733-0011. 
  • After business hours, talk to the Emergency Answering Service by calling our main line 1-800-733-0011, then press the indicated number to reach them.

When calling the Emergency Answering Service number please supply the answering service with the following: State the emergency and degree of severity, your name, phone number and location. You will be called right back; remain at the location and keep phone available until contacted by GSCTX representative

Report as much information as possible to the GSCTX representative, including name(s) of victim(s) and the parent/guardian’s emergency phone numbers. The GSCTX representative will contact the parent/guardian.

DO NOT make any statements orally, or in writing, which could be interpreted either as an assumption or rejection of responsibility for the accident. Remember, notification of kin is the responsibility of the designated GSCTX spokesperson. Prepare a written report of the occurrence and submit it using the online Accident or Incident Report form and participate in another follow-up if asked.

Property Emergencies
In the event of property emergencies after hours (i.e., plumbing, electrical, vandalism, etc.), contact the appropriate Site Manager or call the GSCTX After Hours Emergency Answering Service at 800-733-0011, then press the indicated number to reach them. Provide the following information when calling: State your name and type of emergency, degree of severity of emergency, your location and or name of property and provide a phone number where you can be called right back.

Someone Needs Emergency Care
As you know, emergencies can happen. Girls need to receive proper instruction in how to care for themselves and others in emergencies. They also need to learn the importance of reporting to volunteers any accidents, illnesses or unusual behaviors during Girl Scout activities. You can help girls by keeping in mind the following:

Know what to report. See the “What To Do If There is an Accident” section earlier in this section

Establish and practice procedures for weather emergencies. Know the type of extreme weather to expect in your area (e.g. tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning).  Please consult with your council for the most relevant information for you to share with girls.

Establish and practice procedures for such circumstances as fire evacuation, lost persons and building-security issues. Every girl and adult volunteer must know how to act in these situations. For example, you and the girls, with the help of a fire department representative, should design a fire evacuation plan for meeting places used by the group.

Assemble a well-stocked first-aid kit that is always accessible. First-aid administered in the first few minutes can make a significant difference in the severity of an injury. In an emergency, secure professional medical assistance as soon as possible, normally by calling 911, and then administer first aid, if appropriately trained.

First Aid

Emergencies require prompt action and quick judgment. For many activities, Girl Scouts recommends that at least one adult volunteer be first-aid/CPR-certified. For that reason, if you have the opportunity to get trained in council-approved first-aid/CPR, do it! You can take advantage of first-aid/CPR training offered by chapters of the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, EMP America, American Heart Association or other sponsoring organizations approved by your council. As a partner of GSUSA, American Red Cross offers discounts on certification courses.

GSCTX offers First Aid/CPR training courses. Check our events calendar on the GSCTX website.

Caution: First-aid/CPR training that is available entirely online does not satisfy Girl Scouts’ requirements. Such courses do not offer enough opportunities to practice and receive feedback on your technique. If you’re taking a course not offered by one of the organizations listed in the previous paragraph, or any course that has online components, get approval from GSCTX prior to enrolling in the course.

First-Aider
A first-aider is an adult volunteer who has taken Girl Scout-approved first-aid and CPR training that includes specific instructions for child CPR. If, through the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, EMP America, or American Heart Association, you have a chance to be fully trained in first-aid and CPR, doing so may make your activity planning go a little more smoothly.

The Safety Activity Checkpoints always tell you when a first-aider needs to be present. Since activities can take place in a variety of locations, the presence of a first-aider and the qualifications they need to have are based on the remoteness of the activity. For example, if you take a two-mile hike in an area that has cell phone reception and service along the entire route and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is no more than 30 minutes away at all times the first-aider will not need to have knowledge of wilderness first aid. If, on the other hand, you take the same two-mile hike in a more remote area with no cell phone service and where EMS is more than 30 minutes away, the first-aider must have knowledge of wilderness first aid (see the chart below).

Access to EMS

Minimum Level of First Aid Required

Less than 30 minutes

First Aid

More than 30 minutes

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WFR)*

*Although a WFR is not required, it is strongly recommended when traveling with groups in areas that are greater than 30 minutes from EMS.

It is important to understand the differences between a first-aid course, and a wilderness-rated course. Although standard first-aid training provides basic incident response, wilderness-rated courses include training on remote-assessment skills, as well as emergency first-aid response, including evacuation techniques, to use when EMS is not readily available.

Note: The presence of a first-aider is required at resident camp. For large events—200 people or more—there should be one first-aider for every 200 participants. The following healthcare providers may also serve as first-aiders: physician; physician’s assistant; nurse practitioner; registered nurse; licensed practical nurse; paramedic; military medic; and emergency medical technician.

First-Aid Kit
Make sure a general first-aid kit is available at your group meeting place and accompanies girls on any activity (including transportation to and from the activity). Please be aware that you may need to provide this kit if one is not available at your meeting place. You can purchase a Girl Scout first-aid kit, you can buy a commercial kit, or you and the girls can assemble a kit yourselves. The Red Cross offers a list of potential items in its Anatomy of a First Aid Kit (note that the Red Cross’s suggested list includes aspirin, which you will not be at liberty to give to girls without direct parent/guardian permission). You can also customize a kit to cover your specific needs, including flares, treatments for frostbite or snake bites and the like.

In addition to standard materials, all kits should contain your council and emergency telephone numbers (which you can get from your council contact). Girl Scout activity insurance forms, parent consent forms and health histories may also be included.

 

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