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Communication Policies

How long do you have to keep permission forms? Can you create a Facebook page for your troop? What should you do if there is a disagreement within your troop? Find the answers to these questions and more in the Communication policies.

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts and disagreements are an inevitable part of life, and when handled constructively can actually enhance communication and relationships. 

Volunteers agree to follow the GSNEO Conflict Management process, which is found in the Volunteer Relations Conflict Management Roadmap

When possible, volunteers are encouraged to try to work out a solution through the Self-Resolution Meeting process outlined in the Volunteer Relations Conflict Management Roadmap. All volunteers are expected to continuously uphold the Girl Scout Promise and Law in words and actions. 

If a conflict persists, engage your local service team and/or staff support team for assistance. If the supervisor cannot resolve the issues satisfactorily (or if the problem involves the supervisor), the issue can be taken to the next level of supervision.

Conflicts that are escalated will be handled by GSNEO's Volunteer Relations team.

Confidentiality

Personal, medical and/or financial information about any girl or adult member which becomes known to a volunteer must be treated as confidential and may only be shared when necessary to access Scoutship or other support available from GSNEO for that individual, and only through established systems or the appropriate GSNEO staff member/process. Health or medical information may be disclosed to the extent necessary solely for treatment or emergency purposes.
Names, addresses and phone numbers of girls and adults must not be shared with any individual or business outside of Girl Scouting except as required for safety or for emergency purposes.

Confidential information about members must not be published through any means including any internet channels or social media. 

Volunteers should be aware that most emails are not necessarily sent through secure channels, and must only send content which is not confidential. Steps must be taken to properly secure and protect personal information in possession of volunteers, whether in paper or electronic form.

Volunteers must exercise good judgment and care at all times to avoid unauthorized or improper disclosures of confidential information. Conversations in public places should be limited to matters that do not pertain to information of a sensitive or confidential nature.

The privacy of all members must be respected and protected.

Information Technology and Individual Privacy

GSNEO encourages the use of electronic communications for legitimate and authorized Girl Scout program purposes. An electronic communication is defined as any communication that is broadcasted, created, sent, forwarded, replied to, transmitted, stored, held, copied, downloaded, displayed, viewed, read or printed by any electronic communications service, including email and telephone. Contents of all electronic communications conform to law and policies set forth by GSUSA and GSNEO regarding protection of intellectual property, copyright, patents and trademarks. The Girl Scouts brand and all Girl Scout trademarks and copy rights are the sole property of GSUSA and their use must be preapproved in writing by the GSNEO Marketing Department. 

Electronic surveys may not be created and distributed by volunteers to girls under the age of 18, in accordance with The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This act specifically protects the privacy of children under the age of 13 by requesting parental consent for the collection or use of any personal information of the users. Volunteers must follow COPPA regulations.
Additionally, the misuse of GSNEO’s electronic communications in any of the following manners is prohibited and may lead to, at minimum, ineligibility to volunteer for GSNEO and/or criminal charges: 

For any purpose restricted or prohibited by law, regulation, or GSNEO policies.

Accessing and displaying any type of sexually explicit images or documents.

For personal purposes, including monetary gain, or for commercial purposes that are not directly related to GSNEO business or otherwise authorized by appropriate GSNEO authority. 

Capturing, opening, intercepting or obtaining access to electronic communications, except as otherwise permitted by the appropriate GSNEO authority.

To harass or intimidate others or to interfere with the ability of others to conduct GSNEO business.

Representing, giving opinions, or otherwise making statements on behalf of GSNEO unless authorized to do so.

Employing a false identity (the name or electronic identification of another), directly or by implication.

Forging e-mail headers or content (i.e., constructing an email so it appears to be from someone else). 

Obtaining unauthorized access to electronic communications, members’ personal information, or breach of any security measure.

Performing unauthorized distribution of any members’ personal information.

Interfering with the availability of electronic communications resources, including but not limited to: 

Sending or forwarding e-mail chain letters or their equivalents in other electronic communications services 

“Spamming," i.e., sending electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings

 "Letter-bombing," i.e., sending an extremely large message or sending multiple messages to one or more recipients to interfere with the recipient’s use of electronic communications resources

Participating in denial of service attacks or any disruption of GSNEO websites or the GSNEO wide-area network

 

Public Relations

Girl Scout publicity should be focused on interpretation of the objectives and accomplishments of the Girl Scout Movement.

Media permission, which reads, “When participating in Girl Scout activities I may be photographed for print, videotaped, or electronically imaged. Images may be used in promotional materials, news releases, and other published formats (print or electronic) for either the local Girl Scout Councils or Girl Scouts of the USA. The images will be the sole property of either the local Girl Scout Council or Girl Scouts of the USA.” is granted during online membership registration. Parents/Caregivers may choose to restrict their child from being photographed during online registration. Volunteers must ensure that parental permission has been granted prior to photographing or videotaping any girl member.

In any situation involving public information on behalf of GSNEO or GSUSA, statements can be made solely by the Chief Executive Officer, the Chair of the Board of Directors, the Director of Marketing, or his/her designee.
 

Social Media and Family Communication

Troops/groups and service units agree to assume responsibility for ensuring the safety and well-being of all Girl Scout members and the integrity of the Girl Scout brand when creating and utilizing social media/web sites, and agree that GSNEO is not responsible for the content of these unofficial sites. The following guidelines are in place so that girls are protected online, especially if posting pictures and/or meeting dates and times on social media.

  • The page name should be the service unit name or Group/Troop #xxxxx and it must be stated in the “Info” or “About” section: “This group is affiliated with Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, and administrated by GSNEO volunteers. It is not officially endorsed or regularly monitored by GSNEO.”
  • Designate at least two unrelated, registered, and background checked adult volunteers as administrators to help monitor the group page. Service unit page administrators must be active in a service unit team role and/or appointed by a GSNEO staff member.
  • GSNEO staff must be granted access to view and/or be made a page administrator of service unit or Group/Troop social media pages upon request. GSNEO has jurisdiction over affiliated Girl Scout specific platforms; if the page administrators are contacted by GSNEO or GSUSA and asked to remove any content/links or to add/delete members, they must comply with the request. It is important to reflect the Girl Scout Promise and Law (see “Representing Girl Scouts” policy). When sharing links to commercial sites, ensure they are in line with the Girl Scout brand (see “Conflict of Interest” policy).
  • Pages may use the solid Girl Scout trefoil but not the official service mark for GSNEO or GSUSA. Contact the council marketing department with copyright questions and for permission to use Girl Scout images and logos. Service units are encouraged to use branded cover photos created and shared by the marketing department. Proprietary information and publications (i.e. Badge or Journey requirements) are the property of GSUSA and are not to be shared electronically.

Maintain privacy by creating a “closed” group and utilizing appropriate privacy settings. Only service unit members, volunteers, parents, and girls older than age 13 in that service unit or group/troop (and GSNEO staff members) should be allowed to join. Use caution when posting members’ last names and location information.

Any social media page that violates GSNEO policy will be considered out of compliance, and the volunteer administrators may jeopardize their volunteer roles.

Volunteer Personal Social Media

Volunteers who choose to affiliate with GSNEO/GSUSA/Girl Scouts on their personal social media pages (i.e. “Troop Leader at GSNEO” in “About” section) may be asked to remove the affiliation if reported for content not aligned with the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Volunteers may also choose to include the following disclaimer on their personal social media pages, if choosing to affiliate with GSNEO/GSUSA/Girl Scouts: “The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of Girl Scouts of North East Ohio or Girl Scouts of the USA.” Please note that GSNEO volunteers are expected to uphold the Girl Scout Promise and Law at all times and may be removed from their roles for public statements in direct conflict with the Girl Scout Promise and Law.

Family Communication

Troops must include all parents/caregivers, and service units must include all volunteers who wish to be included on social media, unless there is a legal or GSNEO based restriction. If any member of the page violates GSNEO policies or creates an uncomfortable environment, page administrators may request to remove that member by consulting with GSNEO staff.

Whether through social media or other channels (phone, email, newsletter, etc.), troop leaders must establish clear communication with all parents/caregivers who request to be included, unless there is a legal or GSNEO based restriction.

Refer to policies regarding cyberbullying in the section "Anti-Harassment," sharing of information in the section "Emergencies," and virtual meeting guidelines, including the Internet Safety Pledge in Safety Activity Checkpoints.

Sensitive Issues

Girl Scouts of the USA is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization, and does not take a position on or develop materials pertaining to sex education. Our role is to equip girls with the self-confidence and decision-making skills that will help them make wise choices in all areas of their lives. Parents/caregivers make all decisions regarding Girl Scout program participation that may be of a sensitive nature.

Volunteers agree to seek written parent/caregiver permission through the Sensitive Issues Consent Form prior to engaging in planned discussions or programs with girl members that may be considered sensitive (e.g. reproductive health, religious beliefs). If unplanned discussions of a potentially sensitive nature are brought up by girls, volunteers are encouraged to use their best judgement in determining whether the discussion can be postponed until parent/caregiver permission is received. If the topic is timely and volunteers find it crucial to address for the health and well-being of the troop (e.g. a girl starts her period at camp, and some of the girls are expressing fear or concern, or are sharing information), they may engage in a limited conversation and inform parents/caregivers as soon as possible.

Flyers/Information in Mailboxes

It is against federal law to insert flyers in mailboxes. Girl Scouts and Girl Scout volunteers may not place any matter not bearing postage into a mailbox. This includes flyers, Cookie Program information, letters, etc.  

Contracts

As designees of the Chief Operating Officer, appointed Service Unit Directors may sign contracts/agreements on behalf of their service unit or their troops when the maximum obligation assumed by the service unit and/or one of the troops in the service unit is no more than $1,000.

As designees of the Chief Operating Officer, appointed Direct Primary Volunteers (Troop Leaders, Troop Admins, and Troop Program Guides) may sign contracts/agreements on behalf of their troops when the maximum obligation assumed by the troop is no more than $250.

Additionally, approved drivers may sign rental car agreements on behalf of the troop/group/service unit for Girl Scout related travel.

No other volunteers are authorized to enter into any contract or agreement on behalf of GSNEO or any subordinate unit. Volunteers needing contracts signed should contact GSNEO Customer Care.
 

Records Retention

Permission forms must be retained by troop leadership in a secure location for the current program year, and submitted with GSNEO Incident/Accident Report Form (required) if an incident occurred during a Girl Scout meeting or trip.

Personal Health and Medical Forms must be retained by troop leadership in a secure location for the current program year in accordance with the "Health and Medical Policy," and outdated forms should be shredded.

Financial records, including receipts, must be kept on file by troop bank account signers in a secure location for seven years in accordance with IRS regulations, even after a troop has disbanded or graduated. Troop bank account signers may retain hard copies or store files digitally for convenience.
 

Property

No person should use or alter GSNEO property or equipment without permission from GSNEO.

The use of Girl Scout of North East Ohio properties and/or equipment, for personal gain or for the purposes of solicitation or distribution of literature for non-sanctioned Girl Scout events is prohibited.

No sale or solicitation of materials or services of any type is allowed on GSNEO properties without the written permission of Program Department of GSNEO.

"Solicitation" means requesting another person to purchase goods and/or services; donate goods, services, or money to any person or organization; or sign petitions or the like for any purpose.