Guidelines for Adults Working with Children

Topics: Nonprofit

Working with children can be an extremely rewarding career, but due to the nature of this vulnerable population strict guidelines must be in place. All employees should go through thorough screening and background checks before being hired to your organization. It's imperative that the established guidelines are followed by all staff members who interact with youth as part of their daily duties.
 

The Importance of Properly Screening Employees Who Work with Youth



Whether your organization works on character building, tutoring, social services or another area, the guidelines for adults working with youth are the same and start with thoroughly vetting potential workers and volunteers with background checks. There is no federal mandate for this, so questions regarding this step should be directed to the state level.

It’s recommended that all organizations implement a basic background screening process to both evaluate the skills of prospective employees and reduce the risk of hiring potentially abusive individuals. This screening process should include:
  • A comprehensive application form authorizing a background check.
  • A personal interview that discusses past employment experience and indicates potential problem behaviors.
  • Reference checks with past employers.

A compliant hiring policy should be set in place to deal with the results of the screening. For instance, if the background check reveals the individual has been convicted of any sort of crime involving a child or a violent crime, this person will be eliminated immediately from qualifying for the position.


Additional Child Supervision Guidelines

Additional child supervision guidelines should also be employed on top of background checks to ensure the safety of kids in your care. These include educating staff and volunteers, parents and guardians and children on what is expected and what will not be tolerated. Your organization can also implement abuse prevention policies that discourage opportunities for abuse and encourage children and vulnerable adults to voice concerns about inappropriate behavior.

Other post-hiring best practices include having employees and volunteers attend an orientation and sign a statement that indicates they understand the organization’s written policies regarding the treatment of those in their care, as well as the state’s laws on reporting abuse. Ongoing training programs on crisis management techniques, how to identify and report abuse by employees or volunteers, communication techniques and more should also continually be offered.

Some of the specific guidelines for adults working with youth include:
  • Limit one-on-one contact with children. Staff should avoid being alone with a child in their care. Two staff members should always be available in one-on-one situations, or one staff member should be present with several children.
  • Avoid touching and initiating contact. Even the most innocent touch can be misconstrued, so the staff should understand they should never touch or initiate physical contact with a child.
  • Hold activities in accessible, well-lit areas. Activities with children should be held in a non-secluded setting that is well-lit, highly visible and observable to others.
  • Behave appropriately at all times. Staff should understand the boundaries of their relationships with the children in their care. Avoid after-hours relationships of any kind.
  • Maintain open-door policies. Closed door interactions between adults and children should be avoided. Leave doors open during conversations or when assisting a child.
  • Require regularly scheduled staff trainings. Staff members should be trained on all guidelines not only upon being hired, but also throughout the course of their careers. Schedule regular training programs through the year and upon completion, have the staff sign a document stating they’ve received the training.
  • Perform annual re-screening of employees. It’s imperative that adults working with children not only undergo a background screening check before they are hired, but that they are re-checked on an annual basis.

To learn more about the guidelines for screening adults working with children in your organization, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) created an informative paper with all the details you need on screening applicants so that only the safest, most qualified individuals have contact with children at your facility.

Nonprofit Insurance from AmTrust to Meet Your Organization’s Needs

Lastly, make sure your organization has nonprofit insurance in the event that something does go wrong. AmTrust agents offer a comprehensive suite of coverages to offer their nonprofit clients the perfect insurance solutions to help support their respective missions. For more information, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Contact your local RSM for more information.
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