POWAN Safety Policy

“The Power of Words and Numbers” Initiative Updated Health and Safety Policy Statement

General Statement

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the POWAN Initiative is committed to securing and promoting the safety of children and all others who come into contact with the organization. The POWAN Initiative requires all individuals who are involved or associated with the organization to share this commitment. 

The POWAN Initiative recognizes that safety is its responsibility and that the safety of children is paramount in all circumstances. Every child, without exception, has the right to protection from abuse and access to a safe learning environment.


The POWAN Initiative is committed to safer recruitment selection and vetting, and other background checks. All of its volunteers are required to complete mandatory safety induction training. All of its volunteers have to undergo regular check-ins.  

The POWAN Initiative’s Safety Policy is published on its website for all those involved or associated with the POWAN Initiative to see. 

All POWAN Volunteers will: 

  • be trained to identify potential indicators of abuse or neglect 
  • have read, be familiar with, and be required to comply with the POWAN Initiative’s Safety Policy
  • understand their role and responsibilities  
  • know how to respond to, record, and report any safety concerns and allegations 
  • be required to keep student information confidential
  • be required not to make promises of secrecy or confidentiality to children if they are made aware of a safety concern or allegation by them and to explain that it may be necessary to tell someone else to keep them and others safe
  • be required to report any safety concerns and allegations 

Every child who comes into contact with the POWAN Initiative will: 

  • be treated with dignity and respect 
  • be listened to and taken seriously
  • have their privacy respected, in so far as possible, at all times and in all places

The POWAN Initiative wants everyone to have confidence in its work. Having a robust safety policy helps it to earn that confidence.

Diversity Statement 

Everyone at the POWAN Initiative embraces diversity and inclusion. At every level of our organization, we encourage diverse backgrounds, identities, and ideas. Under no circumstances will we discriminate nor tolerate discrimination against any potential student, family, volunteer, and others. Regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender expression, sexual orientation, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or other unique traits, we strive to treat all with the utmost respect. 


The POWAN Initiative wants to attract the best possible applicants. Its adoption of safer recruitment practices and procedures is vital to identify, deter, and reject applicants who are unsuitable to work with children and unable to maintain a professional environment.  

The POWAN Initiative is an equal opportunity organization that values diverse backgrounds, perspectives, identities, and ideas. We embrace and encourage diversity and will not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, color, religion, parental status (including pregnancy), nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, genetic information, disabilities, political affiliation, military service, and other non-merit based factors.

Safer recruitment is the first step to ensuring the safety of children in the POWAN Initiative’s care. The POWAN Initiative wishes to recruit and retain the highest caliber individuals who support its commitment to safety.  

Individuals involved in the recruitment process must comply with this policy. 

If an evaluator has a personal or familial relationship with an applicant, they must withdraw from the recruitment process. 

It is the responsibility of the executive board

  • to ensure the POWAN Initiative operates safer recruitment procedures 
  • to monitor volunteer compliance with this Safety Policy
  • to safeguard and promote the safety of children at every stage of the recruitment process

The Director, Ankita Ahluwalia, approves all new appointments. Although other board members may be involved in recruitment, the final decision rests with the Director. 

The POWAN Initiative uses an application form, which all volunteer applicants must fully complete as their first step. The application form will require: 

  • full personal information
  • the submission of a resume
  • the submission of a recent academic transcript
  • one optional professional and unrelated reference

The POWAN Initiative does not consider incomplete application forms.

All applicants will be made aware that providing false information could result in the rejection of the application or quick dismissal of them.

Applicants will have an opportunity to speak with a member of the POWAN Initiative team for an informal discussion about the role.

References must always be supplied directly by referees. Referees should provide objective, verifiable, and factual information to support appointment decisions. Referees can assess the applicant’s suitability to work with children through a reference form.

The POWAN Initiative will ask all referees whether they believe the applicant is suitable for the role. It will also ask if they have any reason to believe that the applicant is unsuitable to work with children. 

The POWAN Initiative will receive direct references electronically. When necessary, the POWAN Initiative will contact referees by telephone to investigate any application discrepancies. The POWAN Initiative does not accept testimonials provided by an applicant.

The POWAN Initiative will invite qualified applicants to attend an interview. Interviews will be with at least one member of the POWAN Initiative board. Interviews will take place online. The POWAN Initiative’s interview questions will test the applicant’s abilities, appropriateness to carry out the role applied for, and whether they share the same values as the POWAN Initiative. More specifically, they will be required to teach a concept in that interview to assess their communication skills.

The applicant’s attitude towards children will also be tested together with their commitment to safety and promoting the safety of children. For example, the POWAN Initiative will ask applicants why they think it is vital for adults to protect children.  

The interviewer(s) will fully explore any potential discrepancies or anomalies from the information provided to the POWAN Initiative by the applicant or a referee. 

The POWAN Initiative may receive information about past concerns of allegations that relate to the safety of children. If so, it will consider and discuss that information during the recruitment process.  


All new volunteers who pass the interview stage will be required to complete a mandatory orientation that involves safety induction training. It will include an introduction to the POWAN Initiative’s safety policies and procedures.

Induction training will provide volunteers with a full explanation of their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. It will also introduce the standard of conduct and behavior expected from them. Volunteers will be made aware of the consequences of any breach of all POWAN policies.

The induction training will also include child protection training. For example, volunteers will be made aware of their need to maintain professionalism with their charges. They will also know that they will conduct all communication with their students through POWAN’s website except only during times of emergency when email may be necessary.

Also, the POWAN Initiative will train volunteers on how to make a Calendly account for session scheduling. Transitioning to Calendly allows for the majority of tutor-tutee contact to be done through the POWAN website.

Moreover, volunteers will be introduced to a catalog of credible resources for each grade level from K-12 that they can use to facilitate their tutoring sessions for any subject. Volunteers will learn potential ways to conduct their sessions through specific teaching tips and applications that they can utilize in their tutoring. 

The POWAN Initiative requires its volunteers to meet with a POWAN board member at least once before volunteering to ask questions and check their understanding of the training. The POWAN Initiative highly encourages its volunteers to check in regularly with board members.

Tutor Accountability

Every month, a tutee’s family has to fill out a page on the POWAN Initiative’s website to renew the service of their tutor. In this monthly form, their tutee’s family will inform the POWAN Initiative as to whether or not the tutor is successfully working with their child. 

After each tutoring session, the tutor must encourage their tutee’s family to submit a tutor-specific form within three days of the tutoring session. This form will include a section where the family can assess the quality of the tutoring, the duration of the session, and any concerns or suggestions they may have.

If a tutee’s family finds the tutor’s service unsatisfactory, the POWAN Initiative will retrain the tutor with focused coaching.

The tutee’s family may repeatedly find the tutor’s service unsatisfactory. If so, it can choose another tutor through the “Find a Tutor” section on the POWAN Initiative’s website. The POWAN Initiative will retrain the original tutor.

If the tutor violates the safety guidelines and expectations, the POWAN Initiative will remove that tutor from the organization. The tutee’s family can choose another tutor through the “Find a Tutor” section on the POWAN Initiative’s website.

Safety Guidelines/Expectations

The minimum expectations of all of the POWAN Initiative’s volunteers and others involved or associated with the POWAN Initiative are: 

  • The well-being of the child must always be paramount 
  • They promote the well-being of children
  • They are responsible for their actions and behavior
  • They avoid any conduct that is illegal and which cast doubt on their motivation and intentions 
  • They should continually monitor their work and ensure they follow these safety guidelines and expectations

Volunteers and others involved or associated with the POWAN Initiative must: 

  • Value and respect children as individuals 
  • Treat all children with fairness and respect
  • Respect and listen to the opinions of children 
  • Respect a child’s right to personal privacy as far as possible – in some cases, it may be necessary to break confidentiality to follow safety procedures – explain this to the child early
  • Be an excellent role model 
  • Ensure any contact with children is appropriate and role-relevant 
  • Wherever possible, avoid situations that may lead to misinterpretable behavior  
  • Exercise caution when discussing sensitive issues with children
  • Prioritize the welfare and safety of children 
  • Establish and address the additional needs of disabled children and children with learning differences
  • Appreciate the efforts of all children, and never exert undue influence over them to obtain personal benefit or reward 
  • Be positive, approachable, provide constructive feedback, and promote the values and objectives of the POWAN Initiative 
  • Develop an appropriate professional relationship with children based on mutual trust and respect, and which empowers them to share in the decision-making process 
  • Encourage and guide children to accept responsibility for their behavior
  • Encourage all children not to discriminate on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender expression, sexual orientation, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or all other qualities
  • Challenge any inappropriate language by children (unless the child is making a disclosure), as well as adults 
  • Report accidents, concerns, or allegations of abuse or poor practice to the appropriate body 
  • Keep information about children confidential to keep them safe
  • Report to the proper authorities immediately when a child is hurt or seems distressed
  • Have access to a telephone for immediate contact to emergency services
  • Follow the academic integrity guidelines below

Volunteers and others involved or associated with the POWAN Initiative must not: 

  • Allow concerns or allegations to be unresolved
  • Have, or be perceived to have favorites 
  • Make inappropriate promises to kids 
  • Spend excessive amounts of time with any child unless there are exceptional circumstances 
  • Harm or physically, emotionally, or sexually abuse children, or act in a way that places them at risk of abuse 
  • Enter into a sexual, romantic, or inappropriate relationship with any child regardless of whether they are over the age of consent
  • Behave or encourage a child to behave in a sexually provocative way
  • View or encourage a child to view abusive or pornographic images
  • Use language to a child which is sarcastic, insensitive, derogatory, suggestive, sexual, inappropriate, or offensive 
  • Arrange any meeting with a child outside of times agreed to carry out the POWAN Initiative’s activities 
  • Develop social relationships with children who participate in the POWAN Initiative’s activities 
  • Provide personal contact details to children (including mobile phone number or postal address) 
  • Communicate, or attempt to communicate, with a child through social media, such as Twitter or Facebook
  • Add a child as a ‘friend’ or similar on a social media network, or accept an equivalent invitation over social media from a child 
  • Use sanctions that humiliate or harm children 
  • Smoke, consume alcohol, or use illegal substances in the presence of kids
  • Allow any rough or dangerous play, bullying, bad language, or inappropriate actions
  • Take photos, video recordings, or any audio recordings without the express written consent of students and their parents or guardians

When providing online volunteer support to children, volunteers must: 

  • Endeavor to inform other people in the home or volunteer setting so that they do not interfere or distract from the session 
  • Always use POWAN Initiative-approved communication channels 
  • Use suitable and professional language, as should anyone else in the household 
  • Close all unused browser tabs for the online tutoring session’

Concluding Statement

POWAN Volunteers should always follow this code of behavior and never rely on their reputation or the reputation of the POWAN Initiative to protect them. 

The POWAN Initiative aims to support its volunteers, who can enjoy their roles and meet all standards. If volunteers are struggling, they will speak to the board for additional support.  

Despite the best efforts to recruit safely, there may be occasions when families raise safety concerns or allegations. The POWAN Initiative reserves the right to judge the severity of a problem and, if necessary, may require a volunteer to stop volunteering. If this happens, the volunteer will receive an explanation of this decision.

The POWAN Initiative must report to authorities in circumstances where both of the following conditions are active: 

Condition 1 – the POWAN Initiative withdraws permission for a person to engage in regulated activity with children

Condition 2 – The POWAN Initiative thinks the individual has carried out one of these acts:

  • engaged in relevant conduct concerning children (ex. action or inaction that has harmed a child or put them at risk of harm)
  • shown no relevant conduct but poses an ongoing risk of harm to a child
  • been cautioned or convicted of a relevant offense

The POWAN Initiative may also make a referral to statutory agencies such as the police. 

If a volunteer becomes aware of any code breaches, they must immediately contact the appropriate authorities. Then, they must report them to Ankita Ahluwalia at support@powan.org.

If a tutor experiences sexual harassment or discrimination, they should contact Ankita Ahluwalia at support@powan.org to discuss the situation further.

If a child is at risk of harm, volunteers must immediately refer them to social services or the police. For example, the Childhood National Child Abuse Hotline at (1-800) 422-4453 is an excellent resource.

If there are any potential breaches of the POWAN Initiative’s Academic Integrity Statement, then our Academic Support Coordinator, Brandon Nguyen, will investigate and can be contacted at support@powan.org.

Academic Integrity Statement

First and foremost, tutors are not obligated to guarantee their tutees’ academic success; tutees are responsible for their academic agency. Tutors must not engage in any forms of academic dishonesty such as completing work for students, taking tests, cheating, and plagiarism.

Tutors must remember that they are not there to do homework or tests for their students. Instead, tutors should encourage their students to be proactive and independent learners. Letting the tutee practice academic dishonesty only stunts their educational development.

Confidentiality and Privacy

With the consent of the parent or guardian, volunteers may have access to a student’s information, such as name, identity, contact information, and educational information. Volunteers cannot disclose any of this information about a student to others without the consent of the parent/guardian. The consent of the parent/guardian must be in written form. The POWAN Initiative may need to disclose information to authorities if required by the law or in circumstances of a student’s safety being at risk.

The POWAN Initiative will not use volunteer information and tutee information for other purposes besides facilitating communication between tutors and tutees or between the POWAN Initiative and its tutors, tutees, and families.