Youth Services Law

Child Protection Policies: Who and Where

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.

The dividing line is who has access to children. For example, mentoring organizations may want to have immediate family members of their volunteers complete background checks and sign the youth protection policies, if there is a possibility that those people might accompany a group to an event.

Develop very clear criteria about who is covered by the youth protection policy, and be very consistent in applying them.

Include Volunteers

The most common omission I find in my clients’ child protection policies is forgetting about volunteers. Groups that depend on volunteers, such as the Boy Scouts, have a thorough protocol. Organizations that depend on paid employees, however, often forget about volunteers, particularly those who may participate only once or twice. Volunteers who work unsupervised with children should receive the same screening as employees, and as much of the same training as possible.

Include Policies Everywhere

Organizations often think of a child protection policy as a single self-contained document. The better practice, however, is to include portions of the policy throughout your documents and communications. For example, include in your application a statement about the importance that your organization places on child protection, and a short summary of the policy goals. Repeat portions of the policy in periodic communications with staff and volunteers, and include some portion in each of your staff training sessions. Periodic safety emails also are helpful, if you have the capacity to create and send them consistently. Remember that people generally learn best when information is conveyed both in writing (including handbooks) and verbally.

Next: How to Implement

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