Youth Services Law

Showing 53 posts in Day Care.

Video Surveillance Systems

Posted In Day Care, Schools


Many schools and child care centers have video surveillance systems in place, but do not use them properly. As an attorney defending youth organizations, I have rarely found the footage to be useful. Nevertheless, parents value the systems, so many programs have them. If you decide to install a surveillance system in your building, be sure to pay attention to some important principles.

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Child Protection Policies: Training for Children?

Posted In Child Abuse, Day Care, Schools, Youth Camps

Classroom of ChildrenOne question that always comes up when I advise organizations about youth protection policies is what sort of training to provide to children. Whether to include that training is simply a matter of your professional judgment about how it fits into your program's mission. Many programs claim to prevent abuse, but there is no mental health research supporting those claims. However, some program have demonstrated such benefits such as prompting children to disclose abuse earlier and lessening some of the self-esteem issues that accompany abuse.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has reviewed a number of mental health studies of programs for younger children, and has published a helpful guide to those programs. It is a good place to start in deciding whether to include such a curriculum in your program, and which one will be the best fit.

Child Protection Policies: How to Implement

Posted In Child Abuse, Day Care, Schools, Youth Camps

Protecting ChildrenEven the best child protection policy is useless if no one follows it. Effective policies require constant training and a clear protocol for reporting violations of the policy.

Orientation and Training

Every employee should go through an orientation program that includes a thorough review of the child safety policy. Volunteers are not always willing to give up the extra time for an orientation session, but you should at least require them to affirm that they have reviewed the written policy and agree to abide by it.

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Child Protection Policies: Who and Where

Posted In Child Abuse, Day Care, Schools, Youth Camps

Adult OccupationsOnce you have decided the goals of your youth protection policy and what to include, then you need to decide who is covered and where to publish it.

Who is Covered

You do not have to include every employee or volunteer in every aspect of your policy. For example, maintenance people who are not routinely on the premises and never have unsupervised access to children may not need not to be screened as thoroughly as other staff. On the other hand, a cook who sometimes substitutes in a day care class should be vetted just as thoroughly.

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Child Protection Policies: What to Include

Posted In Child Abuse, Day Care, Schools, Youth Camps

Writing PoliciesMandatory Components

Whatever your program, there are a few things that you absolutely must include. The details of the components may vary, but you must have them in some form or another.

Screening

First, require criminal background checks for anyone working directly with children. The background checks rarely turn up anything, but they operate on the same principle as immunizations—if we omit them, then predators will start applying to our organizations.

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Drafting Youth Protection Policies

Child ProtectionThe beginning of a new year is always a good time to review and strengthen internal policies. This is particularly true of child protection policies, where a few simple precautions can yield important benefits. Best practices in the industry include such policies, and many insurance companies require them. This series of posts outlines some principles that I recommend to my clients.

What Is a Child Protection Policy?

The main purpose of child protection policies is to protect children from harm while in your program, whether from staff or other children.

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Reassessing Nap Time for Preschool

Posted In Day Care

Daycare cotsA study published in the May issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics concludes that more than 60 minutes of mandatory nap time at child care can disrupt a child’s sleep patterns. The researchers studied 168 preschoolers, and found that children who had more than 60 minutes of mandatory nap time a day had significantly less sleep at night. They also found that the effects continued into the following school year.

Of course, this is only one study with a limited sample. Even so, day care centers and regulators need to be aware of its results. The researchers defined “mandatory nap time” as “the period in which children were not permitted any alternative activity except lying in their bed.” It is consistent with other studies showing that children need time for high-energy play. The trend of current research is that young children need nap time, but not too much of a good thing.

Hat tip: www.science20.com

Exposure May Be the Best Way to Prevent Allergies

Posted In Day Care, Illness, Resilience

AllergiesWe are seeing significant changes in protocols for dealing with children with allergies.  Traditionally, doctors advised completely avoiding allergens such as peanuts and pet fur.  Now research indicates that, in some cases, limited exposure may actually help prevent allergies.  The American Academy of Pediatricians issued an interim statement recommending that babies at risk for developing peanut allergies be given peanuts.  Specifically, “Health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of high-risk infants between ages 4 and 11 months.”  Of course, parents should consult an allergist to be sure that the child has not already developed an allergy.

Similarly, another study indicates that household pets can help boost children’s immune systems.  The results are still tentative, but the study cites other research showing that early exposure to animals helps protect against respiratory allergies.  The study’s coauthor concluded, that, at a minimum, avoiding animals does not prevent allergies.  “If a family with a pregnant mother or an infant wants to have a pet, the family can be encouraged to have one, because the development of allergic disease cannot be prevented by avoiding pets.”

Day care centers, of course, cannot make these decisions on their own.  But we can encourage our parents to be aware of the recent research, and to realize that mildly stressing a child’s immune system is an essential part of lifelong good health.

When Protecting Children Prompts Lawsuits

Posted In Child Abuse, Day Care, Schools, Youth Camps

Child ProtectionA volunteer who reported child abuse to church administration in Illinois now is facing defamation charges.  The case illustrates the difficulty that organizations face in dealing with in-house reports of child abuse.   According to the Illinois Court of Appeals opinion,  a member of a Catholic parish wrote to the parish pastor, alleging that a child in the church had sexually touched another child.  The mother of the alleged perpetrator filed a discovery action against the church, seeking the name of the letter-writer and alleging that the letter was false.  According to the mother, the letter had caused her son to be ostracized in the community.  The court decided only that the mother set out a claim of defamation and that the clergy-penitent privilege did not cover the letter. 

The court’s description of the letter, however, illustrates the dilemma that faces organizations that deal with children. 

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Benefits of Risky Play for Children Outweigh the Harms

Child Standing on a PoleAn important and fascinating analytical review from Canada concludes that risky play for children has significant benefits that outweigh potential harm. The researchers reviewed 21 academic studies of children, and concluded that giving children opportunities for risky play increased physical activity, social health, creativity, and resilience.  

“Risky,” of course, does not mean unlimited. The review limited itself to activities “whereby a child can recognize and evaluate a challenge and decide on a course of action,” specifically excluding “hazards that children cannot assess for themselves and that have no clear benefit.” Thus, the article looked at play that included “play at height, speed, near dangerous elements (e.g., water, fire), with dangerous tools, rough and tumble play (e.g., play fighting), and where there is potential for disappearing or getting lost.” All of those types of play showed clear benefits, with risk of injury much lower than what adults assume.  

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