In order to create concrete and detailed Policies and Procedures at your Youth-Serving Organization (YSO), it is necessary to analyze what policies and practices currently exist, if they are working, and how they can be improved. An effective set of Policies and Procedures solidifies your organization’s commitment to child safety and provides a roadmap for how your YSO’s values and standards will be upheld.
Leadership, staff, and volunteers must:
Enforce the standards for behavior and interactions of staff and children as dictated by your Code of Conduct. Your Code of Conduct should outline the expected and appropriate behaviors and the consequences for inappropriate or harmful behaviors. Leadership should provide regular reinforcement, redirection, and enforce the consequences outlined in your policies.
Build and maintain the type of environment described in your Safe Environment policies that ensures the safety of children at the site. Your Safe Environment policies should cover physical and procedural protocols for your in-person as well as virtual environments. All children should be supervised and accounted for at all times and all 1-on-interactions at your organization should be observable or interruptible.
Screen all staff and volunteers at hire and ensure ongoing training and supervision. Initial and periodic background checks are recommended to ensure continued suitability to work with children. Ongoing supervision and training are required to reinforce expected behaviors and redirect inappropriate behaviors.
Prompt your staff to continuously honor their duties and responsibilities as mandated reporters under Massachusetts abuse reporting laws. All staff and volunteers must know how and to whom to report suspicions of abuse or neglect. Annual trainings will assist in keeping knowledge and information up to date regarding reporting protocols.
Define in detail the internal communication and reporting policies and procedures of your organization. Communication between leadership, staff, and volunteers should be continuous and transparent. Utilize supervision and staff meetings to communicate and clarify understanding of safety. Your protocol and reporting chain should address when, how, and whom to report all concerns.
The development of Policies and Procedures is a collaborative effort between all stakeholders. Policies are effective when all are aware of them, understand how to follow them, and feel a sense of ownership for their success. Assessing your current Policies and Procedures is a necessary step in preventing child abuse.
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