As the national organization founded to serve and enable more than 1,100 Boys & Girls Club organizations that run over 4,700 local Boys & Girls Clubs, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA’s) absolute top priority is the safety of the 4.73 million children Clubs reach each year. BGCA’s Child & Club Safety Team is composed of safety experts who provide support to local organizations like ours on a variety of issues, including physical and emotional safety, facilities management, emergency management, child sexual abuse prevention, disaster preparedness and other child safety-related trainings. The Boys & Girls Club of Hancock County has taken extensive and continual action to provide safe and secure environments for children, as outlined below.
SAFETY POLICIES: We are required to have best-in-class safety policies in place that protect youth, including, but not limited to, supervision, transportation, communication and prohibition of private one-on-one contact. We are required to inform parents and guardians of these safety policies when they receive a youth membership application.
CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS: Our Club employees and board volunteers must undergo a comprehensive criminal background check upon hire and annually, and all volunteers (including minors) who have direct, repetitive contact with children must also receive an annual background check. The requirement also applies to staff and volunteers from other organizations who may work in local Clubs as part of a partnership or collaboration.
REQUIRED IMMEDIATE REPORTING: We are required to immediately report critical safety incidents to law enforcement, regardless of severity to local authorities immediately. Within 24 hours, we are also required to report to BGCA. This enables the national organization to provide timely support and resources to ensure kids are safe.
TOLL-FREE CHILD SAFETY HELPLINE: Through BGCA’s partnership with Praesidium, one of the nation’s leading safety experts, Boys & Girls Clubs of America provides a confidential, toll-free Child Safety Helpline to all current or previous Club staff, members or families to report any incident or situation in which they feel unsafe. To access the Child Safety Helpline, call 866-607-SAFE (7233) or email SafeClub@Praesidiuminc.com.
MANDATORY ANNUAL SAFETY ASSESSMENTS: We are required to complete a safety assessment each year. If any concerns arise, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s staff will take action to make recommendations, require changes or to provide additional support.
TRAINING: All staff and volunteers of local Clubs are trained annually on the local Club’s required comprehensive safety policies. Additionally, all Club employees have access to a variety of innovative safety trainings from BGCA and through partner organizations. Our Club participates in a wide variety of child safety training conducted through seminars, conferences, webinars and a semi-annual safety symposium. We also engage leading third-party safety experts to provide guidance for our policies and approaches, including Praesidium, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the National Children’s Advocacy Center. Our Club is required to prominently display key safety resources information, including the Crisis Text Line, a confidential text message service for youth, and Child Safety Helpline.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS SAFETY COMMITTEE: The Boys & Girls Club of Hancock County has a dedicated Child Safety Committee on our Board of Directors to guide our local safety efforts and policies.
MANDATORY EMPLOYEE REFERENCE: Any current or former employee or volunteer interested in moving to another Boys & Girls Club is required to have a reference from the previous Club, even if the Clubs are within the same community, prior to employment or volunteering.
STATE AND LOCAL LAWS: We are required to comply with federal, state and local safety laws, including those impacting facilities and vehicles.
SAFETY PARTNERSHIPS: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hancock County works with leading experts in the areas of safety, security and technology to develop state-of-the-art solutions for our site.
- BGCA’s National Child Safety Advisory Task Force, a group of national multidisciplinary experts in various aspects of child safety and protection that meet quarterly to review and advise on national safety trends and BGCA’s safety strategies;
- Blue Ribbon Taskforce, comprised of local Club leaders charged with providing input on the safety direction and key safety initiatives;
- Mental Health First Aid, a national program that teaches skills to recognize and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse; and
- Crisis Text Line, a confidential text message service for youth in times of crisis.
APPROPRIATE USE OF TECHNOLOGY: The Boys & Girls Club of Hancock County has developed policies to ensure the safe and appropriate use of technology in our Club, including computers, mobile technology and social media. Resources, trainings and activities are tailored for various audiences and age ranges, including kids, tweens, teens and adult staff members.