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Child Protection Standards / Privacy
FAQ's Solidary Child Sponsorship
Privacy Policy

Child Protection Standards / Privacy

Application:
These standards apply to all Solidary Foundation staff and all board members, volunteers, interns, sponsors, other employees, consultants, contractors, advisors, official guests of Solidary Foundation, representatives of partner organizations, and local governments (hereafter referred to as Solidary Foundation Associates) brought into contact with children while working or officially traveling for Solidary Foundation.

Definitions:
Child: a person below the age of eighteen years.
Child abuse: sexual abuse, or other physical, mental, or emotional harm caused to a child, or gross negligence.

Policy Statement:
The primary goal of child sponsorship is to serve the needs and protect the well-being of children. Acting on behalf of the best interests of the children, and in agreement with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Plan strives to design and implement programs that protect children from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In this respect, in none of its programs does Solidary Foundation support or promote the legalization of prostitution or trafficking in women, children or others for any purpose. Solidary Foundation continues to work proactively with victims of prostitution or trafficking. Solidary Foundation does not tolerate child abuse in any form. All children have equal rights to protection.

To this end, Solidary Foundation Associates should:
Familiarize themselves with situations which may present risks and learn how to deal with those situations;
Contribute to an environment where children are able to recognize unacceptable behavior and feel able to discuss their rights and concerns;
Wherever practical, ensure that they and others meet children openly;
Raise concerns about any case of suspected abuse in accordance with applicable procedures.

Further, as participation in Solidary Foundation programs bespeaks a bond of trust between Solidary Foundation and the sponsored children and their families, Solidary Foundation Associates must also:

Refrain from disclosing information (including the use of children's last names and their community information, including name and location) that could be used to identify sponsored children or their families to unauthorized persons, including the general public;
Handle with sensitivity the use of images of sponsored children on the internet. To ensure the protection and privacy of sponsored children, Solidary Foundation uses children's first names only and does not release exact dates of birth.

Purpose:
Each Solidary Foundation country has its local procedures, consistent with Solidary Foundation's global policy, to deal with child abuse. It is the responsibility of Boards and Directors (Field, National Offices, and International Headquarters) to ensure that all Solidary Foundation Associates in their area of responsibility are aware of and abide by this policy and applicable local procedures while working for Solidary Foundation.

The purpose of the standards contained within this document is to ensure that, as the U.S. office of Solidary Foundation, Solidary Foundation has established procedures for preventing and dealing with child abuse and that these are in accordance both with the child protection standards set forth in Solidary Foundation's "Policy on Child Protection: Say No to Child Abuse" as well as with those standards established in the Interaction Member Agencies' "Child Protection Standards for Child Sponsorship Agencies."

Preamble:
Solidary Foundation is an international, child-centered development organization, linking caring people and institutions in the United States with needy children overseas. As a member of a global organization, we exist to help children and their families meet basic needs, achieve economic improvements, and increase their ability to participate in and benefit from their societies. We are a non-profit organization without religious, political, or governmental affiliation. Child sponsorship is the basic foundation of the organization. Our vision is one of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies which respect people's rights and dignities.

Child sponsorship is an approach to long-term development that invites sponsors to build relationships with an individual child and family while helping an entire community realize its full potential. As we believe that a vital part of sponsorship is the relationship that a child can have with a sponsor, we provide the opportunity and encourage sponsors and children to write to each other and to exchange information. This cross-cultural exchange generates a deeper understanding of the reality of life and creates a stronger and more lasting link between the sponsor and child.

Solidary Foundation Board:
One member of our Board is responsible for considering child protection issues in all Board decisions.

1. Behavior Protocols/Codes of Conduct while working or officially traveling for Solidary Foundation.

1.1 Solidary Foundation Associates should not take a child or children into a private place out of view of other adults. Plan staff members are encouraged to be accompanied by parent/legal guardians and/or community members on visits with children.

1.2 Solidary Foundation Associates must not stay alone with one or more children who are not part of their immediate or extended family, whether in the house, project premises, or elsewhere.

1.3 Where possible, and practical, the 'two-adult' rule, wherein two or more adults supervise all activities where children are involved and are present at all times, should be followed.

1.4 Solidary Foundation Associates need to be aware that they may work with children who, because of circumstances and abuses they may have experienced, may use a relationship to obtain 'special attention.' The adult is always considered responsible for maintaining an appropriate relationship, even if a child behaves inappropriately. Adults should not place themselves in compromising or vulnerable positions.

1.5 Inappropriate behavior towards children, including failure to follow Solidary Foundation's behavior protocols, policy, and standards is grounds for discipline, up to and including dismissal from employment, volunteer/internship, or board/advisory council membership.

2. Human Resources-Recruiting and Screening

2.1 By the nature of our work, Solidary Foundation holds personal details of children and their families. This information has been provided by individuals and families on the understanding that it will be used to find them sponsors. It is our responsibility to establish and enforce the means with which to ensure that the information is used in this way and not abused:
Not everyone has access to details of children; access is only given on the basis of role. Details are held securely and access to our computer systems are protected by passwords.
If information containing details of children and their families must be destroyed, it is done so in a secure manner.
Suppliers and agencies working on our behalf are made aware of our child and data protection policy and that they are expected to comply with the policy and standards.

2.2 Established measures ensure that Solidary Foundation Associates do not put children at risk, either from their action or lack of action:
All prospective employees are educated in Solidary Foundation's Child Protection Policy and related child protection issues. The Child Protection Policy is part of the orientation procedure for all new staff, who are required to sign an acknowledgement form stating that they have reviewed and understand Solidary Foundation's Child Protection Policy. 
Solidary Foundation Associates who will have contact with children or personal child information relating to Solidary Foundation business are required to follow the policy and guidelines for child and data protection and are expected to follow behavioral protocols/code of conduct. 
Solidary Foundation performs a criminal background check on current and prospective employees, volunteers, consultants, vendors, and interns. In the best interests of the children, Solidary Foundation will not knowingly employ anyone with a conviction for child abuse, pedophilia, or a related offense.
The Director of Donor Relations & Services is the contact person for issues relating to child protection pertaining to all sponsorship matters. The VP of Human Resources is the contact person for issues relating to staff concerns about child protection. All issues should be brought to the attention of these individuals, however minor the concerns.

3. Protection of Children in Plan Program Communities

Sponsorship is a wonderful opportunity to share in our work through the eyes of children and their families, and many strong friendships develop. To ensure that we do not allow harmful relationships to develop we have the following safeguards in place:

Solidary Foundation Sponsors and Supporters:
3.1 We expect our sponsors and supporters to act in the best interests of children. Should situations occur that cause us to doubt the appropriateness or the intentions of a specific individual as they pertain to the sponsorship of a child, those cases should be referred to the Director of Donor Relations and Services. The Director will handle these on a case by case basis and consult with the CEO, as necessary, to make a decision regarding the status of the sponsorship in question. If the application for sponsorship is declined or sponsorship is brought to a close, the Director of Donor Relations and Services will write to the individual advising him/her of the decision and the reason. All consultation and decisions will be recorded.

3.2 At the time of sponsorship, all sponsors are informed of our child and data protection policy, including the prohibition of unannounced visits to their child. Only when the sponsor is planning a field visit shall we require written acknowledgement that the sponsor has received and understands both the Child Protection Standards and the visit policy.

Sponsor Communications:

3.3 Solidary Foundation has procedures in place for ensuring appropriateness of content in communications between sponsors and children.

3.4 The internet is an uncontrolled and unregulated media. Recognizing this, we ask sponsors to respect the privacy of the children and their families by refraining from posting personal information about their specific child on the internet, such as the child's full name, date of birth, and community information (e.g. name and location).

Visits to Sponsored Children:

3.5 We encourage and arrange for sponsors and other Solidary Foundation associates both to visit sponsored children and families in their communities as well as to visit communities to witness Solidary Foundation's work in action. We have a firm policy in place to ensure that children being visited are safe. All visitors receive visit guidelines when they join and the visit policy is outlined in detail. Sponsored children and their families are also aware of the visit policy. Prospective visitors should take note that:

Ideally, all visits should be arranged at least eight to ten weeks in advance through Solidary Foundation.
Visitors must sign a statement which says that they understand both our Child Protection Standards and our visit policy. 
Solidary Foundation staff or a community volunteer must be present throughout each visit to a sponsored child.
Sponsored children and their siblings must not be invited or taken away from their communities unless the child/children are accompanied by a parent/guardian and Solidary foundation Staff member. 
Solidary Foundation will not facilitate the visit of any child to a sponsor's country. Any request for such assistance will be tactfully declined.
After every visit the field sends a report to Solidary Foundation. All visits are monitored by Plan Associates.
We reserve the right to perform criminal background checks on US sponsors, staff, and other Solidary Foundation supporters prior to field visits.

Allegation/Incident Management Plan:

3.6 Solidary Foundation has measures in place to inform Solidary foundation associates of our Child Protection Policy. Where sponsors knowingly go against our policies, Solidary Foundation reserves the right to bring the sponsorship to a close and to take follow-up action with external bodies as appropriate. For the benefit, protection, and well-being of the children and their families:

We cannot knowingly continue to put a child at risk, or at potential risk, and-in making this decision-will err on the side of caution.
For our development work to achieve results, it is vital that we retain the trust and confidence of the children and the families with whom we work.
We will not continue to facilitate a relationship knowing that it does not respect basic human rights of privacy and protection from harm.

4. Communications about Children

Communications about children should use pictures and language that are decent and respectful.
We will not provide children's personal addresses or contact information to sponsors, unless under the approved visitation policy.
We will not disclose children's personal information to non-sponsors, or disclose information that could be used to identify the location of children within their country on our website or in other mass communications. We expect the same respect for children's protection and privacy from our sponsors and supporters.

5. Dealing with Child Abuse:

Alleged cases of child abuse should be reported to the relevant directors (Country, Regional, National, IH) depending on the location of the alleged abuse. They will refer the matter to the local authorities and decide on other appropriate steps, including informing relevant Solidary Foundation offices and/or supporting criminal prosecution.

If an employee raises a legitimate concern about suspected child abuse, which proves to be unfounded upon investigation, no action will be taken against the employee. Any employee who makes false or malicious accusations, however, will face disciplinary and legal action. Plan will take appropriate legal or other action against other Solidary Foundation Associates who make false and malicious accusations of child abuse.

An alleged perpetrator of child abuse will normally be suspended from their normal relationship with Solidary Foundation during investigation of allegations. Solidary Foundation will sever all relations with any Solidary Foundation Associate who is proven to have committed child abuse.

6. Confidentiality:

An allegation of child abuse is a serious issue. In following Solidary Foundation's Policy on Child Protection and local procedures, it is essential that all parties maintain confidentiality. Sharing of information, which could identify a child or an alleged perpetrator, should be purely on a "need to know" basis. Unless abuse has actually been proved to have occurred, one must always refer to "alleged abuse."


7. Prohibition on the Promotion or Advocacy of the Legalization or Practice of Prostitution or Sex Trafficking:

Solidary Foundation is committed to reducing stigma and ensuring that its HIV/AIDS programs improve access to needed prevention, treatment, care and support services. It does not promote or advocate for the legalization or practice of prostitution and is opposed to all forms of trafficking in persons. Nothing in this policy shall be construed to preclude the provision to individuals of palliative care, treatment, or post-exposure pharmaceutical prophylaxis, and necessary pharmaceuticals and commodities, including test kits, condoms, and when proven effective, microbicides.

Solidary Foundation recognizes that all children have a right to protection from commercial sexual exploitation, prostitution and trafficking. In this respect they have always been treated as victims of a crime and not offenders and that the child’s best interest shall be the primary consideration as expressed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. Nothing in this policy shall conflict with these rights.

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Privacy Policy:

Statement of Purpose:
This website is an informational, educational and recruitment tool for the express purpose of Solidary Foundation. Its purpose is to share the story of our organization and its mission. We welcome all visitors to the site and promise to provide information that is accurate, updated and relevant to our work.

Legal Notice:
This site was developed jointly by Solidary Foundation Headquarters.

Privacy Policy:
We do not share, rent, or sell personal information to any other business or organization.

Sponsor a child page:
The child photos and information displayed on the "Sponsor a Child" section are those of real children. Once a child is assigned to a sponsor, his or her photo and information is removed from the site. Limited information is provided on the site about these children so as to protect their privacy. We kindly request that you do not copy or use these photos in any way.

Note to Parents:
We are pleased when young people visit the website to learn about the organization, its mission and how they can help. Solidary Foundation does not knowingly solicit data from children and does not knowingly market to children without parental consent. In order to provide a more comprehensive, interactive and educational site, this site contains many links to other websites. We do our best to carefully choose those sites with which we link, but cannot take responsibility for the practices and or full content of these sites.

Credit Card Information:
We accept donations for sponsorship, projects and other activities on-line through a secure site. The credit card charges are processed at our office. We have taken the steps required to ensure that our server encrypts your credit card information so that it may be safely transmitted over the Web. Your credit card information will not be released by Solidary Foundation for any purpose.                                                          

Feedback Invited:
This website was designed for existing supporters, new supporters and general visitors. Your feedback about the site and suggestions for changes you think would enhance it are welcome. Please email all comments to info@solidary.org.

Thank you for visiting us.

'Be a part of it.'

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