Physically safe spaces, with proper supervision, are required to maintain safety standards at your Youth-Serving Organization (YSO). Ensure policies and physical spaces follow guidelines that coincide with your YSO’s mission for child safety.
To create Safe Environments:
Adopt physical safety standards, including clear sightlines, well-lit spaces, posting safety rules, and marking or securing off-limit areas. Design or adapt all spaces in your YSO to maximize spaces where children are easily seen and are unable to access spaces where they are secluded. Rules for safety should be posted publicly, in multiple areas.
Establish procedural standards, including visitor entry and expectations, and protocols to confirm children are released to trusted adults. When children are signed in or out of the YSO, policies should be in place to verify the identity of the adult doing so and ensure they are authorized to pick up the child. Similarly, visitors to the YSO should be identified, verified, and know the YSO’s safety expectations.
Adhere to adequate staff-to-child ratios and verify all staff and volunteers understand who is responsible for each child. Follow staff-to-child ratios to ensure appropriate supervision requirements are being met in all circumstances and environments. Clearly define which staff or volunteers are responsible for each child to guarantee they are being monitored properly.
Verify visitors are aware of and follow entry policies and expectations. Ensure that all visitors understand the organizational expectations of their behaviors and are monitored at all times while they are on site. Entry and exit points of the site should be monitored and policies on how to control who has access to various areas of the site as well as which areas are non-accessible should be put in place.
Ensure procedures for use of bathroom, changing, or shower facilities (if applicable) are understood by all staff and volunteers. Clearly define which staff and volunteers have access to bathrooms, changing areas, and showers. For children needing assistance in these facilities, develop and enforce procedures for safety with staff and volunteers.
Analyze the physical spaces, the services you provide, and the children you serve to determine if additional policies and procedures are needed. Continuously review, inspect, and update physical spaces, policies, procedures and protocols to ensure safety standards are being met. Revisions or additions to policies may be required to maintain effective safety during activities in and outside of the YSO.
The YSO should ensure all spaces are designed or modified to keep children safe and visible, without access to isolated spaces. Staff and volunteers should be given clear expectations regarding who they are supervising and how to best keep them safe in private spaces, such as the bathroom. Policies about safe environments should be revisited regularly and revised when necessary.
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