We love volunteers who are minors! Get them involved young and you have a lifetime of volunteerism ahead :) There are a few areas that we regularly address concerns for minors. The VolunteerMatters system has the ability to address each of the scenarios outlined below. Please reach out to support to discuss the proper configuration for your needs.
- Agreements: Age of Consent
As a part of our volunteer onboarding, there are general documents that need to be read and signed. These might include liability waivers, photo releases, or policy statements. For each type of agreement you must decide which fall into the category of "legal requirement" and which are "Making sure you know". Anything that is a legal requirement (e.g., a liability waiver) then you must have a parent sign on behalf of the child. Anything that is a making sure you know (e.g., volunteer code of conduct/expectations) might be okay for the minor to sign. This is really a call for your team to make. We recommend getting advise from your HR resources, legal counsel, insurer, and government institutions. It also helps to connect with your professional associations to determine legal obligations and best practices.
- Parent/Guardian Signatures: Physically 'Inked" Signatures
We take two approaches to parent signatures. There are many applications where a parent must sign a physical piece of paper by policy or law (sometimes called an 'inked' or 'wet' signature). In these cases we can configure the credential to appear differently for a minor than for an adult. In the case of an adult, they would just be prompted to electronically sign the agreement. The minor would be prompted to download the document/form and either sign/scan/upload it or physically hand it in. The file download link and instructions can be customized to your needs. In these cases an admin would be involved to either receive the file and validate/scan/upload (if physically handed in) or review/validate (if uploaded).
- Parent/Guardian Signatures: Electronic Signatures
There is a method where the volunteer's parent/guardian might be presented with the opportunity to electronically sign the document (the system provides two fields - one for the minor and another for the parent) However, there is no way to immediately validate that the parent was the one who actually typed their name into the system unless a) the parent perform the act in front of a staff person/in-person or b) A staff person spoke to the parent/guardian directly to validate that they did electronically sign the document. The system provides the ability for an admin to update the status of the electronic agreement as well as add notes (i.e., adding a note that the electronic signature was confirmed/validated).
- Background Checks: Age of Consent
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the background check subject to sign consent and disclosure statements as a part of their background check application. This falls into the "legal requirement" above. If the subject is a minor then you must have a parent sign on behalf of the child.
- Background Checks: Age of Applicant/Age Exemption
We often get asked if you should background check minors at all since most records are sealed. Again, this is a decision you must make with your team. However, we can tell you that most of our customers exempt volunteers from a background check if they are under 18 and nearly all exempt volunteers if they are under the age of 16. However, if a volunteer who had been previously exempt from the background check should return at a future date where they have exceeded the age of exemption (i.e., over 16 or 18 depending on the organization), they would then be required to comply with the background check requirement.
- Special Requirements for Minors
There may be some requirements that you would like to have that are specific to minors. For example, you might have a policy that doesn't apply to adult-age volunteers that you want minors to read and sign. Perhaps there is a training geared toward minors. In this case, the system can be configured to essential exempt adults and only require minors to complete the requirement.
- Volunteer Need Age Restrictions
For any volunteer opportunity (a.k.a., volunteer need - shift, position, item, task) you can restrict volunteers under a specified age from signing up for that opportunity. For example, I could set a volunteer opportunity to restrict anyone under 18 from signing up.