I. ABOUT PROJECT PEARLS
The core mission of Project PEARLS is to break the cycle of poverty. We do this by providing children of impoverished communities with different kinds of support in three main areas: education and literacy; healthcare and nutrition; and empowerment through skills development. These children, who are living below poverty line and in extremely unhealthy environments, are most vulnerable to negligence and abuse. Often, they are the last ones to receive basic social services such as free access to education and healthcare. To ensure that their rights are protected and to give them an opportunity to develop their full potential, Project PEARLS aims to give them Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love, and Smiles (PEARLS).
Vision: A world where no child at no time, should go hungry! No child should be hungry for nutrition, education, shelter, medical services, and opportunities to achieve their full potential.
Mission: To help the poorest of the poor children to have a better life by giving them PEARLS: Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love and Smiles through education, empowerment, nutrition, nourishment, and healthcare.
II. DEFINITION OF TERMS
“PEARLS” refers to Project PEARLS, Inc. (Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love, and Smiles)
“Children” refers to those below eighteen (18) years of age or older but are incapable of taking care of themselves as defined under Republic Act No. 7610.
“Child abuse” (as defined in RA 7610) refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following:○ Psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment;○ Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being;
○ Unreasonable deprivation of his basic needs for survival, such as food and shelter; or
○ Failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his growth and development or in his permanent incapacity or death.
“Representatives” refers to all staff, volunteers, Board of Directors, and any person connected to the Organization.
“Scholars” refers to any child/youth who are registered under the Scholarship Program of Project PEARLS.
“Sponsors” refers to any individual or organization who is directly supporting a Scholar through the PEARLS Scholarship Program
III. STATEMENT OF POLICIES
A. Statement of Commitment
As an organization that is focused on uplifting the lives of children, Project PEARLS commits to undertake its programs and projects with the explicit intention to protect every child from any form of abuse, exploitation, neglect or any kind of violence. All Project PEARLS staff, volunteers, partners, and donors are expected to observe the highest standards of behavior and to withdraw from any activity that may result in any form of child abuse.
To strengthen this commitment, the following policies and responsibilities are implemented:
- All representatives of the Organization should meet all the obligations given by the highest member of Project PEARLS.
- All representatives of the Organization should report any breach of the organization’s policies to the Executive Director who will then inform the Board of Directors. The Board will decide for the appropriate disciplinary action to be taken.
- The Organization must ensure that all of its staff and representatives are aware and notified of all the policies provided here.
- The Organization must provide trainings and seminars to the staff, members and volunteers to capacitate them in properly addressing the needs and welfare of the children in the community.
- The Organization prohibits any form of discrimination against the LGBTQI community and people with special needs. All children, staff, volunteers, partners, and sponsors are treated equally and with respect – regardless of their gender, race, and socio-economic background.
- The Organization adopts procedures on prevention, reporting, and responding to cases involving abuse.
B. Policy to Commit to all Applicable Laws and Regulations
All PEARLS representatives are required to act in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Philippines and United States. Project PEARLS also commits to comply with international standards on the prevention of child abuse.
C. Policy Regarding Sexual Activity with Children
Children and youth who receive support from Project PEARLS for their educational, nutritional, and healthcare needs are required to be given utmost protection from all forms of sexual abuse. As such, all PEARLS representatives are not allowed to engage in any sexual activity with them, regardless of their age. Furthermore, individuals under the age of 18 cannot legally give informed consent to sexual activity. Hence, sexual activity with underage individuals, with or without their consent, will be treated as a serious case. Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action being taken, including filing of any available legal remedy.
D. Policy on Accountability of the Board of Directors, the Executive Director and the Staff
The Executive Director and the members of the Board shall monitor and review all the rules and regulations set forth in this policy at least once a year, and make any amendments if necessary. The Program Heads are responsible in ensuring that the safeguarding policies stated in this document are being implemented within his/her team. As the highest decision making body in the organization, the Board of Directors is responsible for regular monitoring. They are also committed to take any action to reported cases and to make disciplinary move in accordance with the law.
E. Policy on Confidentiality in Child Safeguarding Matters
All cases that will result from child safeguarding matters will be handled with utmost respect and professionalism, and in accordance with the laws of the Philippines and U.S.. PEARLS representatives who are directly handling the case are required to handle all information with confidentiality, and must strictly follow the Procedures on Reporting of Child Safeguarding Matters set forth in this policy.
A. Prevention of Child Safeguarding Incidents
Minimizing safety and security risks to children in project planning and implementation
In all programs and activities, the safety, security, and welfare of the children must be prioritized. To ensure this, two or more adults must supervise all activities where children are involved. These include both on-site projects such as tutorials, feeding, and workshops in the community, and off-site activities such as exposure trips, and seminars. All representatives are required to adhere to the Code of Conduct (see Annex II) at all times.
Background Checks for Staff
To ensure that PEARLS staff are not involved in any criminal activity, the organization shall require an NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) clearance prior to employment, and will conduct its own background check.
Representatives and Partners: Complying with the Child Protection Policy
All PEARLS staff are required to have their own copy of this Policy and they must submit a signed agreement stating that they will comply with the policies and procedures stated in this document (see Annex III). Organizations and individuals who wish to partner and donate with PEARLS are also required to submit a signed acknowledgement of the policy prior to the conduct of the partnership. Anyone who wishes to conduct an interview with a child must secure an informed consent signed by the person to be interviewed (if he/she is over 18 years old), or by the parent (if he/she is is under 18 years old). In addition, any person or organization who wishes to conduct interviews, meetings, or activity with a child must inform the Organization and must secure the approval of the Executive Director.
B. Reporting and Responding to Child Safeguarding Incidents
All PEARLS representatives are required to report possible cases of misconduct directly to the Executive Director. In special cases that the Executive Director is not immediately available, the representative may contact Bantay Bata 163 or the local office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), whichever is more available. An incident report must be sent to the Executive Director within 24 hours with the following details:
- Date, time, and location of the incident
- Detailed narration of the incident
- Immediate actions done by the representative, if any
The incident report shall then be sent to the Board of Directors for them to conduct an official
administrative inquiry (written) if there is any staff or volunteer involved in any abuse. Any staff will be subjected to preventive suspension on the basis of alleged child abuse that is clearly a grave criminal offense when proven guilty. PEARLS will also coordinate and cooperate with the local barangay, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the legal remedies to be administered and for the proper response to be taken for the affected child.
C. Training to Increase Awareness on Child Protection Obligations
All staff are required to undergo an orientation about the organization’s Child Protection Policy within the first three months of his/her employment. PEARLS shall also conduct a yearly training on Child Protection for its representatives. New volunteers are also required to read and acknowledge the Volunteer Guidelines and the Code of Conduct (see Annex I and II) which are formulated in a way to promote awareness about child safeguarding principles.
D. Risk Assessment for all Programs and Activities
Throughout the planning and implementation stages of programs and activities, assessment of external and internal risks will be conducted to identify practical measures to minimize the possible risk or hazard to children. The head of the program is responsible for conducting such risk assessment mechanisms and for disseminating the plan to reduce the risks.
E. Use of Photos and Names of Children in Communication Materials
All photos and videos of children must portray them in a manner that gives them dignity and evokes feelings of hope, joy, respect, and compassion. To protect the privacy of children, all published images (online and print) of children must not contain their full names, address, and other personal information. PEARLS shall secure an informed consent form from the scholars and their parents to signify their agreement for the use of their photos and videos in published materials. On the other hand, the Sponsor has the right to receive personal information about his/her scholar and he/she is expected to keep this confidential information for personal reference only.