I. 4-H Electronic Communications and Social Media Policy
The 4-H code of conduct that is required during in-person contact is enforced for electronic communications.
To minimize the risk of misconduct resulting from electronic communications between adults and minors involved in 4-H programing, all communications between authorized adults who are not related to the youth and youth program participants must be professional in nature and must be limited to information about program activities.
- Authorized adults, (extension educators, volunteers), and peer-leaders communicating with youth program participants regarding Extension programming must include parents/guardians, program staff, multiple youth or another authorized adult in electronic communications.
- Club or other group pages focused on the program can be used for appropriate interactions between authorized adults and youth program participants.
- Quick calls, texts, or other communications from an authorized adult to a youth program participant are allowed for emergency reasons, confirmation of location, or other logistical matters surrounding Extension programming.
- Consent requirements by age:
- For youth under the age of 13 parental consent is required. Consent needs to be in writing; this may be handled electronically, such as through an email.
- The record of consent must be maintained.
- For youth 13 and over parents must be notified of the intent to correspond through electronic communication, this can also be done by email, and Parents/guardians may request in writing that their youth program participants not be contacted directly through any form of electronic communication by authorized adults. Consent is presumed when this has not occurred.
- Authorized adults, (4-H educators, faculty and volunteers), must abide by any request from a parent/guardian or young person seeking to prevent or suspend electronic communication.
I. Liability Insurance
Liability insurance is an important part of a risk management plan and is designed to protect the insured party from the risk of liabilities from lawsuits and similar claims.
University of Wisconsin – Madison provides liability coverage to 4-H staff and 4-H volunteers that lead 4-H programs and activities.
To obtain a certificate of liability insurance, 4-H staff should submit a request to the University of Wisconsin – Madison Office of Risk Management. Please note that it could take up to three weeks to process the request.
II. Liability and Waivers
The University/State of Wisconsin will respond for 4-H staff and 4-H volunteers if acting within the scope of employment or position description. The State can:
- Pay claims for injury or property damage to others based on the negligent acts of employees or agents, and
- Defend employees or agents against allegations of negligence
4-H volunteers do not need personal representation unless advised by the University that they were operating outside the scope of the volunteer expectations or violating either the Wisconsin 4-H Policies or the Volunteer Behavior Expectations.
Volunteers are not immune from lawsuits.
- Primary coverage is the volunteer’s homeowner/automobile insurance when having activities on their property or driving personal vehicles for 4-H approved purposes.
- The State of Wisconsin requires personal auto insurance coverage.
- Suggested minimum insurance is a minimum limit of $500,000 combined single limit, or limits of $100,000/$500,000/$100,000.
III. Accident Insurance
Accident insurance helps pay for medical costs that the policy holder may incur after an accident or injury.
County-based 4-H programs should purchase accident insurance for 4-H members and 4-H volunteers. Most counties use American Income Life.
- Purchasing the $1.00 per year plan and $2.00 per year horse project member plan is recommended.The year-round accident policy does not cover injuries sustained while sledding, tobogganing, snowboarding, downhill skiing and other downhill winter sports. 4-H staff or 4-H volunteers should purchase one of three low cost Special Activities Coverage when sponsoring these activities.
- Counties are encouraged to purchase Special Activities Coverage for non-members participating in 4-H programs, activities and high-risk events.
IV. Property Insurance
Depending on the policy, property insurance provides protection against most risks to property, such as fire, theft and weather damage.
Chartered 4-H clubs and 4-H groups may purchase a property insurance policy to protect assets owned by the organization, but it is not a requirement.