Policies and Procedures are an essential backbone of your prevention strategy at your Youth-Serving Organization (YSO), providing an overarching written structure that demonstrates your commitment to the safety and well-being of children entrusted to your care.
At minimum, your Policies and Procedures must include:
A mission statement and Code of Ethics that include your organization’s commitment and responsibility to maintain a safe environment for children. Policies and Procedures should be centered around the best interests of children, the values of your organization, and the organization’s role in guaranteeing safety in all settings.
A Code of Conduct that details the expected and prohibited behaviors between staff and children. Your Code of Conduct should cover expected and appropriate behaviors and prohibited and harmful behaviors. It’s not necessary to outline every possible scenario. However, your Code of Conduct should reflect the core standards and principles guiding all your activities.
Screening and Hiring policies that determine the best candidates to be placed in positions of responsibility with children. Screening and Hiring policies must clearly outline how staff and volunteers will be adequately screened and vetted to work with children. This includes implementing a systematic interview process for all staff and volunteers and conducting recommended initial and periodic criminal and sexual offense background checks.
A Safe Environment policy that covers physical and procedural protocols for in-person and virtual environments. Your Safe Environment Policies should include the five categories of safety, including, visibility, access, supervision and communication, transportation, and safe technology use. These policies dictate the type of safe environment you want to build and outlines how you will guarantee the safety of all children in your care.
Monitoring Behavior and Reporting protocols that guide staff on how to recognize, respond, and report abuse. All staff and volunteers are responsible for holding each other accountable for appropriate behaviors and reporting inappropriate behaviors. Additionally, your policies must include clear direction on how and to whom to report suspicions or reports of abuse.
A Training policy that requires all staff to be trained, at hire and annually, in your organization’s child protection policies and protocols. This includes ongoing training on your organization’s policies and procedures, the signs of symptoms of abuse, and how to identify grooming behavior in adults. Training should be accessible to all staff in a variety of learning formats, and used as a tool to heighten awareness, and create a culture of zero-tolerance for abuse.
Policies and Procedures should guide the safety standards at your YSO. Your policies must be continuously referred to and adhered to by all staff and volunteers to ensure that all children are kept safe at your YSO.
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