No matter how large or small a youth-serving organization is, or what services it provides, every organization shares the desire to keep children/youth safe from harm. Your policies and procedures for child safety and abuse prevention should serve as the backbone of your efforts to protect children/youth, and provide an overarching framework that represents your commitment to the safety and well-being of the children/youth entrusted to your care. They should provide a foundation to support all other elements, and lend meaning and credibility to the other safety components and strategies described by Safe Kids Thrive.
Your child protection policies must be developed with your organization’s mission and circumstances in mind. For example, an organization that provides youth mentoring may need to adopt prevention strategies for one-on-one activities between children/youth and staff/volunteers that are different from those adopted for group sports activities. Similarly, prevention strategies for a studio with a single, storefront location will likely differ from those of a statewide agency with multiple dedicated sites and scores of programs.
Either way, well-written policies, procedures, and guidelines provide the means for you to clearly express, in a public way, a commitment to your parents, community, and the children/youth you serve by outlining the steps you take to protect children and youth from sexual and other forms of abuse. They make clear the type of environment you strive to build and maintain, and the safeguards you employ to ensure that all staff, employees, and volunteers are properly vetted and trained to recognize and respond to inappropriate and/or harmful behaviors. Effective policies focus both on the creation and maintenance of safe, preventive environments for children/youth, and on the responsible management of incidents or alleged incidents of abuse.
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