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The most effective way to manage risk in order to keep our clients, volunteers, and staff safe is by ensuring a consistent volunteer management process.

The Screening HandbookThe 10 Steps to Screening are found in the Screening Handbook. The handbook features tools and resources to advance volunteer screening practices.

Meaningful volunteer engagement and the quality and safety of program delivery are improved through screening. Effective screening greatly reduce risks and liability for organizations and volunteers.

This indispensable guide, prepared in 2012 by Volunteer Canada for Public Safety Canada, is available free for download online


10 Steps to Screening: Highlights

For a printable version of the 10 Steps to Screening, download the Volunteer Screening handout.

  1. Determine policies & risks | Set standard policies and identify potential risks to participants/organization.
  2. Write clear volunteer position/role descriptions | Set guidelines and behavioural standards for volunteer positions, and clarify roles and responsibilities.
  3. Establish a formal recruitment process | Commit to a thorough recruitment process and make this commitment clear to potential volunteers by informing them of your recruitment process up front.
  4. Use an application form | Limit the collection of information to what is necessary to carry-out an interview for the volunteer role, and ask for permission to call references.
  5. Conduct interviews – get to know the volunteer | Communicate your organization’s expectations and assess the suitability of the candidate for the role. Ask about past employment and volunteer positions. Remember to use your intuition!
  6. Follow-up with references | Always do more than one reference check. Be sure to explain the position/role, the potential vulnerability of participants, and ask for open comments.
  7. When necessary, request the appropriate Police Information Check | If you have determined a Police Information Check is necessary for a volunteer role, contact your local police service to clarify which type of check you need. Be sure to include the volunteer role description for the benefit of the police service, your organization, and the volunteer during this process.
  8. Conduct orientation & training sessions | Ensure that the candidate is aware of organizational structures and policies, and assess their approach, work style, and skills. At this point, you may still decide if they are the right person for the volunteer role or not.
  9. Supervise & evaluate| Using the position description as a reference point, evaluate the volunteer at least once a year and preferably 2-3 times a year. Clarify expectations and identify challenges.
  10. Participant/recipient follow-up & feedback | Listen to feedback about the service provided by the volunteer. Ensure that volunteers are aware that follow-ups will be conducted.

Important Definitions 

Duty of Care
Standard of Care
Position of Trust/Authority
Vulnerable Person

Additional Screening Resources

Skills Based VolunteeringVolunteer Canada – Screening
Volunteer Canada shares additional information and resources on screening.

Volunteer Canada – Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement
The CCVI is a framework for involving volunteers in all levels of your organization, providing in-depth explanations of the different standards for volunteer engagement.




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