The National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI) is proud to celebrate ten years of partnership with USA Hockey. To recognize this incredible milestone, NCSI sat down to chat with Casey Jorgensen, General Counsel with USA Hockey, to discuss the decade-long partnership and its emphasis on safety in sport.
USA Hockey has made a significant impact on safety in the sport of hockey by creating its Safe Sport Program to help protect volunteers, coaches, and, most importantly, the athletes. Since creating its Safe Sport Program, USA Hockey has worked with NCSI for its background screening solutions. NCSI sat down with Jorgensen to learn more about how monumental USA Hockey’s Safe Sport program has been for youth sports, what parents need to know about safety and background screenings, as well as what safety in sport means to him.
What is the SafeSport Program?
Back in 2012, USA Hockey started thinking about what a safety program would look like as other sports had experienced scandals. USA Hockey wanted to be proactive in their sport toward any abuse.
NCSI: "What does the Program entail?"
Jorgensen: “[Before 2012] we had a background screening policy and sexual abuse and physical abuse policies, but we didn't really have everything collected to say this is our program to help keep our environment safe. And so we created the Safe Sport program, and we were working at the same time with other NGBs [national governing bodies] that were doing it. It actually took a lot of learning from USA Swimming. And so I was working with them to create the guidelines, and then as we got through that, we needed to figure out a way to be able to provide some independence and expertise to other NGB that are dealing with abuse”
USA Hockey and USA Swimming were at the forefront of safety as they were both a couple of years ahead of the Safe Sport Act of 2017. By 2012, USA Hockey had outlined necessary safety requirements for coaches and staff, and their Safe Sport program was ready to be implemented in the Fall of 2012, preceding the 2012-2013 hockey season. The Safe Sport program has multiple systems in place to protect its participants from physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other types of abuse and misconduct that can be harmful to youth hockey players and other participants.
NCSI: “How has this safety program evolved over the past ten years?”
Jorgensen: “We've got six pillars to it. It's like spokes on a wheel, but we call them pucks around the spokes.”
Overall, it looks the same but has grown as The U.S. Center for SafeSport continually looks at the policies in place and helps to enhance those. The six key pillars of USA Hockey’s Safe Sport Program are Education and Awareness Training, Screening of Staff and Volunteers, Reporting Concerns of Abuse, Responding to Reports of Abuse, Monitoring, and Supervision of the Safe Sport Program, and having Policies Prohibiting Abuse and Managing Hockey Environments. NCSI plays a key role in the Screening pillar to background check all staff and volunteers as part of USA Hockey’s Safe Sport program.
NCSI: “What should parents know about their children’s safety in sport?”
Jorgensen: “I would encourage all the parents to take Safe Sport training. You know, we don't require parents to, but it’s required of all our coaches and all our administrators, but I would encourage the parents to. With USA hockey, they can register with us for free and take the training.”
He also went on to say parents should keep an eye out, be diligent and know when to report. Being educated about what happens out there and being aware is important.
NCSI: “What do you think sets NCSI’s screenings apart that has contributed to the longstanding partnership?”
Jorgensen: “Their responsiveness -- but when we've had a problem, they've been responsive and that's what you ask for is just people that will work with you and work towards improving programs”
NCSI: “What does ten years of safety mean to you?”
Jorgensen: “We work hard at it. No one's going to be perfect -- but just know that we're all trying to row in the same direction by trying to create safe spaces in our sport”
Through these last ten years, the continual partnership has helped to increase safety, prevent abuse and educate coaches, volunteers, staff, parents, and athletes.
NCSI and USA Hockey have significantly improved safety in the sport of hockey. This partnership will thrive and continue to ensure that all volunteers, coaches, and athletes are safe. Learn more about USA Hockey’s program here. And learn more about NCSI’s background screening solutions here.