While the goal is clear, the means and methods are a little more difficult than expected.
Looking to improve the town’s child abuse reporting policy in the wake of the Sheehan abuse scandal, the selectmen are looking to create a new policy that could be expanded beyond into rec. department and youth group volunteers.
“That’s what we’re trying to capture is somehow putting a net over the widest,” Jim Devellis said.
According to Foxboro’s Human Recourse Director Cindy M. DePina and Acting Town Manager Bob Cutler, a policy that would cover non-town employees would leave the town open for liability.
“They’re not employees. We could create something similar to ethics that could fall on them but they’re not employees. If they’re not covered under the rights and we create a policy then we have to make sure we have the resources,” DePina said.
According to DePina, a specific child abuse policy for a town is not common due the mandating reporting laws. In addition, the town would have to update the policy every time the state make changes to child abuse laws. Talking to other towns, DePina could not find a single place that has a specific policy on child abuse.
Currently, police, fire, and the council of aging are mandated to report abuse if they see it. Coaches and youth leaders are not but the group they report to are. The Foxboro Public School also have their own separate policy to death with abuse.
“I think that’s the direction that whoever is not mandated has to be covered. I understand there is liability if it’s not followed because if you’re not following a policy, someone can hold you to that. But not having a policy is what we’re concern about,” Selectman Jim DeVellis said.
DePina is looking for clarification if participants in camps and youth programs are mandated by the state. Everyone who volunteers for a youth program does get a background and CORI check.
Selectmen Lorraine Brue and Ginny Coppola said they are looking for something that shows that those who are not covered by the mandate have received the proper background check along with the training to identify and report abuse.
“I would view that our recreation department is in that category and would want to have a policy on child abuse record to make sure every is sure that this is the procedure you follow, this is the form you have to file, and to have an understanding to how do we train people and document that,” Brue said.
Cutler, however reminded the board of the difficulties of implementing such a policy
“You have no control over the youth groups. They are not employees so you’re trying to create a group a policy over people you have no control over,” Cutler said.
Coppola suggested a community effort led by Union Church pastor Bill Dudley and the victims of Bill Sheehan that would encourage adults to be trained to look for sexual abuse.
Dudley said at the meeting he would support an effort.
The lack of a method those not covered by the current mandate left the selectmen frustrated with the few options available.
“We’re trying to find a mechanism to address it and so far I’m not satisfy with how the conversation is going. Seems like we can’t,” Selectman John Grey said.
The board will take up the issue again in about a month when DePina reports back.