Your youth-serving organization may provide transportation to children and youth—either on a regular or occasional basis. If you’re a larger organization, you may employ professional transportation companies to transport your students or clients on a daily basis. Or you may purchase your own vehicle(s) and hire one or more drivers. Alternatively, depending on your size or the nature of your services, you may rely on supervisors, employees, volunteers, or parents to transport children and youth in their personal vehicles. Each of these situations carries the potential for inappropriate contact with the children/youth being transported. Although larger organizations such as public schools are subject to regulatory requirements for the screening and hiring of drivers, many others are not.
Children and youth are and have been vulnerable to sexual maltreatment while being transported as part of an organization’s program. Drivers are also susceptible to false allegations when alone with a child being transported. For these reasons, you’ll need to consider your transportation policies. If your organization provides transportation under any circumstances, you should define in your policies who is responsible for transporting youth to and from regular activities and special events. The opportunities for drivers to be alone in a vehicle with a child/youth who is not their own should be minimized.
Some questions to consider as you define your transportation policies:
- Can children/youth ride with an employee/volunteer?
- Under what circumstances?
- What are pick-up procedures at the end of the day or an event? Codes of Conduct typically prohibit staff and employees from driving children home if parents are late.
Safe Kids Thrive recommends the following best practices when it comes to transporting children/youth:
- Establish policies that clearly address practices for transporting children and youth.
- Obtain written parental consent for transportation of each child/youth, and clearly state transportation arrangements and requirements in writing to all parents and other caregivers.
- Avoid having a child or youth travel alone in a vehicle with one adult if possible; ideally, there should be more than one adult and/or more than one child/youth in the vehicle. This is usually not possible in mentoring or relationship-oriented programs, but safety can be addressed through supervision and contact with the family and child/youth.
- Eliminate the potential for physical contact if a single child/youth and adult are alone in a vehicle by having the child sit in the back seat.
- Avoid using vehicles with tinted windows that inhibit visibility from the outside of the vehicle.
- Do not use panel vans or trucks for transporting children and youth.
- Ensure that policies and procedures related to transportation comply with all state laws that pertain to your organization (i.e., maintenance and inspection of vehicles/buses, pre-hire screening for drivers, driving records check, criminal and sexual offender records checks, etc.).
- If using a contractor to supply transportation, ensure that the company has complied with applicable state laws, and has screened its drivers.
- Establish policies, procedures, and check-in/check-out protocols that specify and make clear where drivers are supposed to be at any given time.
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