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Why Complete the Special Needs Scouting Survey?

Scout leaders have expressed concern about the Special Needs Scouting Unit Annual Survey. Some worry about asking for information that should be private and/or legally protected, or that conversations about special needs topics can be uncomfortable for leader and parent alike.

The Special Needs Scouting Committee would like to address those concerns.

Why is this information needed?

Simply put, the reason we ask all units to fill out the annual survey is right in the name of the committee; many of our scouts have special needs. They might need special assistance or accommodations to get the most out of scouting. In order for those needs to be met, they have to be identified.

Individual pack and troop leaders need specific information to deal with situations that can arise in a scouting program. What if a given scout has a severe allergy? Or is prone to wandering? Or has a learning disability that might make work on certain merit badges or requirements more difficult? Knowing those challenges puts leaders in a much better position to deal with them as they arise.

At the council level, we’re collecting less specific information, but that’s still important, because it helps the Special Needs Scouting Committee create programs and offer support in ways that will benefit our scouts and units the most.

How do I collect this information?

The best way to gather information about a given scout’s special needs is in a conversation with that scout’s parents or guardians. Some may be very open, others may be more guarded.

The Special Needs Scouting Committee recommends broaching the topic when a scout first joins the unit. One good way to frame the discussion might be a question like, “Does your child require any additional support or services at school?” Scouts that need services in a school setting are likely to need support in a Scouting setting as well. It may be uncomfortable, but the BSA strongly encourages leaders to ask and parents to answerExternal Link these types of questions.

Any pack or troop leader that needs assistance in setting up a program is welcome to contact the Special Needs Scouting Committee. We will visit with your pack or troop committee to discuss options and offer training.

What about privacy?

As with any sensitive or private medical information, all pack and troop leaders are strongly encouraged to closely follow BSA guidelines (found here: https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/ahmr/medical-formfaqs/External Link). Do not send or store sensitive medical forms electronically and be sure to destroy them when out-of-date or when a scout leaves your unit. And rest assured that the Special Needs Committee is following those same guidelines with everything we do.

Any questions?

If you have any additional questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact the Special Needs Scouting Committee via email: SNScouting@wpcbsa.netExternal Link

Additional information is also available on the committee web site: http://www.wpcbsa.org/SNScoutingExternal Link









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