What is a Code of Conduct?
A Code of Conduct establishes acceptable interactions and outlines the expectations and responsibilities of any person with access to children at your organization.
At minimum, your Code of Conduct should include the following:
- Your organization’s mission statement outlining your commitment to safety and guiding ethical principles and standards (Code of Ethics).
- Guidance on, and definitions of specific behaviors and interactions, including appropriate, inappropriate, and harmful and prohibited.
- Reporting obligations, procedures, and process, investigation and monitoring procedures.
- Statement of Receipt and Agreement as well as a Signature Block to ensure the Code of Conduct is included and addressed within the organization.
Code of Conduct
How-To in 3 Steps
Learn more about creating a Code of Conduct at your organization. Download a free copy to keep and share with your team.
Developing the Code of Conduct
- Include a Code of Ethics describing the vision and guiding principles of the YSO and commitment to keeping kids safe.
- Gather input from leadership, staff, volunteers, parents, and children on the day-to-day behaviors important to them.
- Provide guidance on behaviors that are appropriate, inappropriate, and harmful and the consequences of violating the Code of Conduct.
- Check parent and partner organizations for suggested models and integrate licensing, certification, and regulatory requirements.
- Include child abuse reporting laws and the consequences for failing to report.
Implementing the Code of Conduct
- Share with all constituents and include your YSO’s commitment to maintaining a safe environment.
- Verify all current staff and volunteers understand, agree, and sign the Code of Conduct.
- Integrate review and acknowledgment of your Code of Conduct into your screening and hiring process for all new staff and volunteers.
- Embed the Code of Conduct into ongoing performance reviews.
- Ensure all staff understand their responsibilities and know how, when, and to whom to address or report concerns.
Reinforcing the Code of Conduct
- Provide positive reinforcement when appropriate behaviors are observed and report inappropriate or harmful behaviors.
- Review during staff meetings, supervision, and training and in ongoing communication with staff and volunteers.
- Add the Code of Conduct to your YSO’s website and in any marketing, recruitment, or advertising.
- Collect and review data with staff on the frequency and types of reports to identify areas that need to be addressed.
- Evaluate, revise, and update the Code of Conduct at least annually.