AFS-USA Mission Statement
AFS-USA, Inc. (AFS-USA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works toward a more just and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural learning experiences to individuals, families, schools, and communities through a global volunteer partnership.
What Volunteers Can Expect From AFS-USA
Volunteers are central to the mission and values of AFS-USA. To meet regulatory requirements and discharge its duty of care for volunteers, while working to provide a positive volunteer experience, AFS-USA will:
- Recruit, screen, and register volunteers in accordance with AFS-USA standards, the AFS-USA Equity and Inclusion statement, and equal opportunity and non-discrimination laws and regulations.
- Acknowledge the rights of volunteers and comply with all volunteer policies.
- Define volunteer roles and develop clear role position descriptions.
- Provide appropriate levels of support and management for volunteers.
- Provide volunteers with required orientations, required trainings, and optional development opportunities.
- Provide liability insurance coverage.
- Ensure that volunteers have access to information on polices relating to grievance reporting and disciplinary policies and procedures.
- Treat volunteers with respect at all times.
- Recognize and acknowledge the many contributions that volunteers make to the organization and its mission.
AFS-USA Volunteer Policies ensure that AFS-USA provides all AFS-USA volunteers with a reasonable and uniform system of administration. They reflect the core values of AFS-USA, as well as the importance of the volunteer-staff partnership. Volunteer Policies help to inform AFS-USA volunteers on how they should perform their duties in their volunteer roles. Volunteer Policies provide a shared understanding of relationships between AFS-USA and its volunteers, and they assist with meeting volunteer expectations. AFS-USA Volunteer Polices apply to all registered AFS-USA volunteers. AFS-USA reserves the right to change Volunteer Policies at any time, and any such change will take precedence over the previous version of the Volunteer Policies.
Volunteer Code of Conduct
AFS-USA’s highest value is its commitment to the safety, welfare, and well-being of all people participating in its programs. AFS-USA will act without hesitation to promote a safe environment for its participants at all times. Volunteers must demonstrate appropriate behavior at all times.
In addition, AFS-USA volunteers must:
- Conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their volunteer role as a representative of AFS-USA.
- Follow all AFS-USA policies and guidelines for the safety of program participants.
- Become a fully-vetted host family prior to overnighting an AFS participant in their home.
- Ensure that another volunteer or a staff member is involved when dealing with issues of potential risk.
- Treat all program participants, families, fellow volunteers, and staff members with respect.
- Raise any concerns or issues with the appropriate volunteer or staff member.
- Immediately report to the appropriate AFS-USA Support staff when any allegation is made or suspicion of any type of abuse of a participant is present. This includes verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
- Give care and respect to participants concerning any information that may be viewed as sensitive and should be treated as confidential information.
AFS-USA volunteers must never:
- Force participants into any activity which makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Hold or touch a participant in a manner that is inappropriate or perceived as inappropriate by the participant.
- Make lewd, racist, ethnic, or sexually suggestive comments or jokes.
- Send texts or social media messages that include any language or images that could be interpreted as suggestive, sexual, or otherwise inappropriate.
- Discriminate based on issues related to gender, ability, race, religion, class, age, national origin, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
While touching and physical contact can be appropriate, it should be:
- In response to an appropriate need of the minor and not a need or want of the adult;
- Done with the minor’s permission; resistance should be respected;
- Respectful, avoiding breasts, buttocks, and groin; and
- Open and non-secretive.
Touching or physical contact should be governed by the age of the minor. For example, sitting on an adult’s lap may be appropriate for a 3-year-old child, but it is not appropriate for a 16-year-old teenager.
AFS-USA supports the rights and well-being of our host families, natural families, volunteers, and staff members, and it encourages their active participation in building and maintaining a secure environment for all participants.
Agreement to Comply with all Volunteer Policies, Procedures, Regulations, and Standards
As a volunteer, I understand and agree to comply with the AFS-USA Volunteer Code of Conduct described above and all other AFS-USA Volunteer Policies, procedures, AFS International Quality Standards, and all regulations and standards established by the US Department of State (“Department of State” or “DoS”) and the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET). I understand that AFS-USA Volunteer Policies take precedence over any local team or chapter bylaws. I understand that AFS-USA operates in a highly-regulated environment and that volunteers who choose to apply their own interpretation of quality standards, rules, or regulations undermine the management of AFS-USA and put AFS participants and AFS-USA’s reputation and ability to operate at risk. I understand that failure to adhere to all policies and regulations can result in the termination of my volunteer association with AFS-USA. For a full listing of CSIET standards and US Department of State regulations pertaining to secondary students, please see the following links:
By signing this agreement, I confirm that I have read and agree to abide by the AFS-USA Volunteer Code of Conduct described above and all other AFS-USA Volunteer Policies pertaining to:
- Notification Policy
- Volunteer Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Conflicts of Interest
- Volunteer Training
- Volunteering as an At-Will Engagement
- Volunteer Performance Management
I agree to uphold all AFS-USA policies and procedures, both those outlined in the Volunteer Policies and all other AFS-USA volunteer and organizational policies and procedures. I understand that AFS-USA Volunteer Policies take precedence over any local team or chapter bylaws. If I am unable to fulfill my agreed upon AFS-USA volunteer role(s), I will make every effort to immediately inform my volunteer team leaders or appropriate staff to ensure that a different volunteer is identified to take on my role(s).
By signing this agreement, I confirm that all information and statements given in my Online Volunteer Application are complete, accurate, and true to the best of my knowledge. Furthermore, I understand that I may be disqualified from becoming or remaining an AFS-USA volunteer if I conceal, falsify, or fail to disclose or update any material information during or after the application process including, but not limited to, changes in address, conflicts of interest, arrest, and criminal charges or convictions.
I understand that the execution of this agreement does not result in, either implicitly or explicitly, an employment contract, and I agree that my participation in AFS-USA is strictly as a volunteer under this agreement.
Effective July 2019