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YPT Feedback

Background: Our Pack completed recharter yesterday. This was an email I sent to our district & council leaders in an effort to outline possible ways to improve communications and the process involved with YPT. I’ve removed names of people and our council in an effort to protect privacy and generalize the discussion.

Dear Scout Leader,

First, let me state up front that I strongly and unequivocally believe in the mission, goals and ideas of the Youth Protection Training (YPT) Program. It is vital that all of our scouts, leaders, and families be able to create and maintain a culture of youth protection, safety and awareness. Please take my points below as an effort to improve the overall experience for all involved with the efforts in achieving YPT goals both locally, regionally, and nationally.

  • Last night, our Pack Facebook page was unexpectedly directly messaged by (name redacted) with regards to the YPT. This was unusual, surprising & disturbing to several of our leaders who monitor the page and was considered by some to be a potential internet security situation, as (name redacted) affiliation with scouting was unclear at the time of the communication. I attempted to reply to (name redacted) to indicate that all of our unit leaders satisfied YPT requirements (as required by council prior to rechartering). He stated that there were some units that still had leaders that needed to be trained, which doesn’t make sense because council requires all leaders to be trained before the recharter can be processed. Before we could end the conversation, the messages initiated by (name redacted) mysteriously vanished. If (name redacted) had checked our recharter paperwork or BSA databases, he would see that our unit was fully compliant with YPT requirements.

  • This morning, I received an email from council indicating that there is a YPT session being offered the day after the recharter period for most districts. Presumably, this means that some units were allowed to recharter without leaders being fully YPT certified, which represents a violation of established rules and precedent. This is also offensive to those units who took valuable time to meet the recharter deadline for YPT established by BSA & council. In one case, a den leader in our unit CANCELLED A DEN MEETING in order to renew YPT certification in advance of the council established deadline.

In both of the above points, it is troubling that there is almost an expectation of failure by council for units to be unable to fully satisfy YPT requirements. If this is the case, perhaps council needs to rethink the requirement of all leaders going through YPT every year and the way it is implemented.

  • I recently learned that one of the reasons council requires YPT annually instead of every two years as required by BSA is due to the recommendation of (name2 redacted). Mr. (name2 redacted) also serves as the COR for our Pack, yet at no time was our unit (or any other unit in council to my knowledge) ever consulted on the impacts & burdens that would be placed on unit leaders to satisfy the requirement, specifically, the valuable time of Cub/Scoutmasters & Committee Chairs chasing down each leader to make sure that YPT certifications are up to date, as well as the valuable time taken by each leader to renew the training. This reflects what I see as a growing communication disconnect between leaders at National, Regional, Council and District levels and leaders charged with administering scouting programs at the unit level.

  • During 2020, the BSA YPT system suffered issues which resulted in users completing YPT not being provided with a PDF certificate. Imagine the frustration of a parent/leader spending the 60+ minutes of time to take the training, getting to the end and the system crashes. It is likely that some scout leaders completed the training multiple times in an effort to get around the glitch, taking additional valuable time . What’s worse is that there was no formal notification from BSA or council to leaders to indicate that there was an issue or that it was resolved.

  • My own personal experience using the BSA YPT system to renew certification was frustrating. What should have been a 1 hour experience ended up taking 2.5 hours of valuable time because each of the videos presented during the training experienced significant lag & stuttering. Given that many areas of council territory are in rural areas with limited broadband internet coverage, it is likely that other leaders experienced similar issues.

  • It makes no sense that in-person YPT sessions take longer (90 minutes) than YPT sessions initiated online (~60 minutes). My understanding is that this is because of National BSA requirements with regards to the structure of the in-person course. Leaders at the council and regional levels must vigorously communicate this to leaders at the national level and urge them to correct this discrepancy in order to encourage more participation in in-person YPT.

  • I am a Federal Employee with the Department of Defense required to take multiple types of training (sexual harassment, internet security, etc) at regular intervals. In most cases, I am able to reduce the time required to complete training renewals by being provided with the opportunity to demonstrate my existing knowledge and test out of some/all of the training if I already know the material. YPT renewals should allow users who are fluent in YPT policies and procedures the opportunity to satisfy requirements in a more time efficient manner, such as being able offered the flexibility to achieve required YPT scores prior to consuming YPT content.

  • One of our unit leaders who took part in YPT stated it was difficult due to the emotional distress involved. This person had a previous YPT related issue in their family and expressed discomfort. Ideally, council should be providing a resource or point of contact to leaders who may find the YPT content challenging due to the sensitive nature of the material. If council has such a resource or POC, it needs to be promoted simultaneously with YPT. Note that BSA refers to “Youth Protection Champions” on its website (https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/alerts/yp-champions/) yet the contact information for council’s Youth Protection Champion is not easily ascertained from the council website.

  • In many cases, the charter organization for a unit also requires some type of YPT designed specifically for their needs. In most cases, this additional training is redundant and takes additional time from our leaders that could be used for scout programming. council should work with charter organizations and their parent organizations (eg, Diocese of Redacted) to encourage them to accept BSA YPT training as an acceptable alternative to their own in circumstances where the leader is only involved in Scouting and not involved in the activities of the charter organization in any other way.

  • As a Cub Scout Pack, each of our scouts are required to complete the exercises contained with the Youth Protection pamphlet with their parent or guardian found in the beginning of every Cub Scout handbook every year for every rank. I spend valuable time at most Den & Pack meetings begging parents & scouts to complete the training in a timely manner. Despite this, many families put off the task until it is one of the few remaining requirements left to achieve rank. Many scouts are unable to afford to purchase the handbook each year, creating a barrier for completing this requirement to low income families. Council and regional leaders must let National BSA know that efforts must be made to make this requirement easier for families to complete in a timely manner each year.

  • I have learned that BSA has cards that may be provided to leaders who have completed YPT training (https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/youthprotection/pdf/100-084.pdf). These cards should be distributed to all scout leaders by council or district as a reminder of commitments to YPT.

  • In many of the points I make above, I emphasize the word time . Simply put, it is a precious, unique commodity that cannot be easily replaced. Today’s parents are working multiple jobs. They may be a single parent struggling to make ends meet. They may be a parent with multiple kids involved in multiple activities such as sports, music, etc. They may be caring for an elderly or disabled parent. As the world grows more complex, scout leaders at the national, council and district level must recognize this and do all that they can to ensure that this resource is conserved and not wasted.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss this at length, please feel to reply. I will also be posting this email online at discussions.scouting.org to engage other scouters at a national level to provide ideas and feedback in an effort to improve YPT. Thank you for taking the time to read my comments in full.

Yours in Scouting,

Brendon Hoch

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Brendon, a suggestion. If you number your points it would be easier for me to respond to specific ones.

Thanks,
Doug

You have many good points. Overall, YPT takes about ~75 minutes online once a year. In-person, about 90 minutes, based on your comments. Neither is prohibitively tedious. However, BSA IT issues have impacted some folks online time.

Someone did not do their homework before contacting your unit.

Having an in-person YP training does not mean that units were allowed to recharter non-compliant leaders. Individuals could be dropped until they submit proof of YPT and a new application.

Is this the date when paperwork is due? Or is it the next month after the paperwork was due? Our paperwork is due the beginning of December and charters run Jan 01 - Dec 31.

I am quite sure the folks who made the decision understand that requiring ~75 minutes of training every year is twice the trouble of requiring it every two years. Bottom line, they decided that knowing every registered leader will be trained throughout their registration year is more important than losing the few leaders who won’t do their training and the few who quit because they get tired of getting leaders to do their training. The program gets better when leaders know what they are doing because they are trained.

Agreed. And in 2019. And 2018. Is there a pattern?

Online is ~75 minutes minimum (72 minutes plus time to switch between modules). An additional 15 minutes to do in-person training isn’t bad. Allows for a little discussion.

I agree, this would be nice, but require legal to certify the test out option is as good as the training.

Good point. Pester your council to get the YPT Champion contact info more prominent.

Getting the lawyers for the chartered organization to agree that the BSA YPT is the equivalent of their specific training will be difficult. If it is equivalent, then there is hope.

First time I have seen this. Maybe someone can explain when these were used? Maybe after an in-person YPT class?

The only thing we all have. Spend wisely.

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I started with a long list addressing each of your points, but decided to dump that and answer your final point. You emphasize the word time. The BSA is asking adult leaders to give one hour two years to make sure they’re current on youth protection requirements. ONE HOUR. Over TWO YEARS.

I certainly appreciate the challenges that we’re all facing this year, but if you can’t find the time to do YPT every couple of years (or even once a year for some Councils), maybe you just don’t have time to volunteer.

It takes more like 90 minutes with bsa server lag between modules and waiting for the certificate to come through can make it take even longer.

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During this day and time, the BSA will NOT lessen the YPT requirements. If anything, they will increase them.

YPT is a pretty small hill to climb. Meeting all the requirements can be more time intensive. If anyone isn’t interested in spending the time to do it, I am not at all interested in them being a leader for my daughters.

Should the BSA improve their IT systems? Yes.

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@BrendonHoch - It was wrong of the council to contact your pack on a Facebook page. Even if they had been correct about not all your leaders having completed YPT on time, there is no reason this information should have been sent to anyone other than the Key 3 and the untrained leaders themselves, and the council has no idea who administers your Facebook page.

Many council require YPT to be renewed annually, This is often connected to the local council’s insurance policy, i.e. they may be paying a lower premium for enforcing such a requirement. However, they do not really require annual renewal. This is merely the backdoor consequence of what they do require. The way they craft the rule, it says that your YPT may no expire before the end of your registation renewal period. That forces you to do it every year. If one took YPT on December 29, 2019, it will expire two days before registration for the calendar year 2021.

Your den leader may have actually been YPT trained when s/he cancelled the den meetings. The training still has a two-year expiration date, That is not the element the council is affecting. It is only for rechartering that they effectively require annual renewal. So, one who took YPT on November 1, 2019, is still trained on November 15, 2020, and even to the end of 2020. However, in a council requiring YPT expiration being later than registration expiration, YPT must be taken in 2020, before the 2021 reregistration can be processed.

Once rechartering is submitted, the council has work to do on each unit to verify everything that’s there. Even if submitted completely online, it is not as automated a process as one might expect it would be. If your district sets the 2021 recharter deadline at December 5, 2020, you ought to do everything you can to meet that deadline, because a Scout is Courteous. The council staff needs the lead time to get everything done by the end of the year. However, the reality is that not every unit is going to get it done in time. If they scheduled a YPT for the day after the recharter deadline, it doesn’t mean they allowed some units to recharter without YPT compliance. Rather, it means they are trying to rescue some units who are late, and they’re hoping to do it as soon after the deadline as possible, so the disturbance to their process is minimized.

Before online YPT was available, I facilitated many in-person YPT sessions. People do ask questions, and this is the primary reason it will take about 15 minutes longer.

Also before YPT was available online, there was a resource pamphlet distributed to all participants at in-person YPT. This card to which you link is probably intended to replace that, but I doubt it is used often.

The technology does need to be improved. I had a new den leader last month who needed to complete two of the four YPT modules twice. I had a new den leader last fall who completed aveything and was unable to get a certificate without the council needing to intervene. Something the BSA needs to consider is that YPT is often the first interaction a new volunteer has with the organization. This magnifies the importance of the system working properly.

The time wasted on this is frustrating. It isn’t the 75 minutes that I need to spend updating YPT. It’s the time I need to spend addressing this with other leaders who experience technical problems that needs to be returned to me. The technology must work better going forward.

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I read the whole thing and there’s one key piece about YPT that I dislike mentioned

It’s only by video that I can’t speed up, press skip when I read the content and the technology system is horrible. It wasn’t just broken in 2020, we’ve saw tech problems with the training system three years in a row. 2017-19 also.

The training has two parts that should be the result

  1. awareness
  2. agreement and compliance

They don’t need video for part one
They don’t need video for part two

It would be a much smoother process and the BSA could actually make annually work nationally, if it was a mix of video or text and then a required test.
If I can read the content in 15 minutes and pass the test and sign an agreement, no one should care.

The test proves I know the content and no video can change someone from half paying attention and figuring out the obvious answer.

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