In the introductions of the Northeast Region meeting of the Illinois Volunteer Management Network Scott Niermann announced that there is a goal in Illinois of increasing total volunteers by 500,000 and that Serve Illinois is working hard to help achieve that goal.
There was a quick recap of the purpose of the Volunteer Management Network and explained that the Illinois Commission has been around for 30 years. Sadly, it was announced that Scott Kimmel's contract was not renewed and that currently there is a vacancy in that position.
Additionally, there was a review again of the Serve.Illinois.gov website to show the progress that has been made since the last meeting. To date there have been 10,000 plus hits since its launch. They are working with some volunteer centers to get them connected but that step has not yet taken place. This has been raised as a concern by the Volunteer Centers in Illinois but the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism is working hard to resolve those issues.
At the meeting there were three panelist guests who came to talk about screening, liability, and risk management. Those panelists were:
- Deanna Roby, Unit Educator, U of I Extension and 4H
- Eric Salcedo, Community Outreach Coordinator, Office of the Attorney General, State of Illinois
- Trooper Maria Navarro, Illinois State Police
Deanna Roby gave information on their screening process for 4H which included conducting criminal background checks.
Eric Salcedo shared that the office of the Attorney General is there to represent the state and to also protect its citizens. The office provides the support for the following:
- Crime victims
- Consumer Protection
- Enviromental Groups
- Charitable Trust Bureau
- You can learn about charities
- They have charitable advocacy counsel
Related to the Attorney General's office, there are responsibilities for board members and non-profit management. He indicated that it is important that as a non-profit you have legal and liability counsel either on your board or available to your board.
Trooper Maria Navarro
Trooper Maria Navarro shared that that she is an Education Officer and that each county in Illinois has such an officer who is responsible for volunteerism and networking. She answered a variety of questions and dispelled some myths about access to criminal background checks and sex offender registries. There are ways to acquire criminal histories of potential volunteers which include accessing the information directly from the state or to contract with a third party who will run the checks for a fee.
Combined they agreed there are some other basic screening steps that you might want to consider dependent upon the volunteer positions that you are screening for. These would include but are not limited to:
- Reference Checks (non-family members)
- Motor Vehicle Checks
- Credit Checks
- IL Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Websites and Resources
Some websites and resources that were posted were:
Illinois State Police
Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trust Bureau
- BOI Phone: 815-740-5160
- All charities are listed with the Bureau
- Volunteer Boards are Responsible
Illinois Department of Child and Family Services
After the panel discussion attendees broke into topical groups to begin addressing some regional concerns. At this meeting the topics that were reported back on were Professional Development and Uniform Nationalized Background Checks.
The Professional Development groups wanted to announce that ICOVA will be happening on May 14 - 15 and they encouraged everyone to come and that the Points of Light conference is June 22 - 24 in San Francisco.
The Uniform Nationalized Background Checks group came back and raised the question as to who could spearhead a movement like that. Two suggestions that came out of that discussion were that Serve Illinois could spearhead a movement like that in Illinois. The other suggestion is that this could become another one of those services that Volunteer Centers could provide for smaller non-profits. That is about the extent of where the conversation went. This is something that will continue to be revisited as long as there is interest.
We ended the meeting with one activity which was for each participant to write 3 questions/issues they wished to share with the state. 1 item per sticky note. These were then collected by Scott Niermann and will be consolidated into a statewide landscape survey to be shared with the group in the coming months.
It was agreed that the next meeting would take place in Chicago in either August or September from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. The date and location still needed to be determined. (Subsequent to the writing of these notes, September 1st from 10-2 was confirmed. The next Northeast Illinois Volunteer Management Network meeting will be held at the Metcalf Building in downtown Chicago).
- Submitted by Robert M. Bonesteel, Director, Volunteer Services Bureau of The Salvation Army - Central Territory