Even if your nonprofit doesn’t provide direct services, creating a child protection policy is still a good idea. The Executive Director of the Iraqi Children Foundation explains how her team created their first policy and why you can’t afford to wait.
Executive Director at Iraqi Children Foundation
Who She Is:
Cindy Fogleman is a member of the Board of Directors of the Iraqi Children Foundation and has served for 10 years as its full-time, volunteer Executive Director. She was a financial advisor for Ameriprise Financial for five years, prior to which she served on Capitol Hill as professional legislative staff for the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Financial Services of the US House of Representatives. She has a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Q: Why is having a child protection policy important to your work with Iraqi Children Foundation?
A: At first blush, it might seem that ICF, a US-based 501(c)(3), might not need such a policy since we provide funding for NGO projects in Iraq, rather than hands-on, direct services to children. But, we quickly realized that we did need a child protection policy for two reasons:
- Partnering with the right Iraqi NGO means we need to ensure they are exercising good child protection practices in hiring, training, and supervision. Iraq has been through so much violence and displacement that even adults and caregivers have suffered trauma. Ensuring that the invisible scars of adults do not manifest in abuse of children is critical.
- ICF’s reputation and ability to attract donors is at risk if children are harmed by projects we fund. Our very mission depends on ensuring that the children we love and serve are cared for safely.
Q: What were the steps you took to create a child protection policy?
A: As the full-time volunteer Executive Director of ICF, it is my responsibility to initiate policy decisions of this nature. One of the best features of GlobalGiving are the learning opportunities available, so I reviewed Keeping Children Safe’s Child Protection Plan Self-Audit (for which GlobalGiving nonprofit partners can earn GG Rewards Effectiveness points), then completed the self-audit for ICF which revealed we did not have adequate policies in place. Then, I drafted a preliminary child protection policy, briefed the Board on the subject, and got input from individual members who then voted unanimously vote in support of the policy.
Q: In a few sentences or bullet points, could you share a high-level summary of what your policy includes?
A: Our policy includes the following five components:
- A clear statement that child protection is a top priority for which ICF recognizes its responsibility in projects it funds
- A statement that traditional cultural practices will not be considered a defense against harm to children, an important statement in the context of Iraqi culture
- A requirement for security risk assessments for projects ICF funds which is very relevant given all the violence and conflict in Iraq in recent years
- A requirement that our NGO partners commit to protecting children under their care by vetting staff for any record of abuse or neglect, training employees on child protection responsibilities, and maintaining a system for accountability
- ICF’s commitment that reports and social media activity will not disclose the individual identity of children
Q: What’s your advice for a nonprofit team that thinks creating a child protection policy is too hard and time-consuming, or not worth the effort?
A: If your mission is caring for children anywhere in the world—whether through education, health care, or other initiatives—you can’t afford NOT to have a child protection policy, especially if you are in the business of direct services. You will regret not having such a policy in place if abuse occurs and a child is harmed. And your reputation can be greatly impacted by even a single well-publicized case of abuse. Instead, take the GlobalGiving course, read the material, and do the self-audit. Then draft your first child protection policy, with the understanding that as you have experience with the policy, you may want to update or expand it. The important thing is to take action, even if initially you take small steps.
This interview is part of the GlobalGiving community’s growing library of resources on the importance of ethical fundraising, child protection, and safeguarding.
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Featured Photo: Reaching Adolescent Girls In Humanitarian Settings by Women's Refugee Commission, Inc