Ensuring the safety of children and teens is fundamental to the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. Since 1970, child protection and safety have been the founding principles of our work. Our policies and operational procedures are designed to ensure we employ the highest standards of member safety. Given the realities of today’s world and all the challenges young people face, we must be ever vigilant in ensuring our Clubs are safe havens for the youth we serve, staffed by caring adult mentors who have the best interests of kids at heart. While child safety has been our top priority at our Clubs throughout our history, our work in this area is never done.
With the support and extensive resources from Boys & Girls Clubs of America and its Child & Club Safety Department, we embrace a culture of safety and follow best practices for protecting our Club members. Access to our Clubs is controlled and monitored by trained youth development professionals. All members complete a membership application and are issued a membership card for access past the front desk/membership counter into the building and programs.
Nationally-based criminal background checks are required for every staff member and volunteer who has ongoing direct contact with children and teens. Through our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we employ First Advantage, one of the country’s largest data sources for criminal history records, to provide the most comprehensive annual background screenings of current employees available today. Ongoing training and supervision of staff are critical. All new employees and volunteers are screened through the Department of Children & Families Clearinghouse.
Our Clubs also participate in a wide variety of child safety training conducted through seminars, conferences and webinars. Our Board of Directors oversees a Safety Task Force to assess and manage all facility and operational safety related priorities.
We’ve also developed policies for the safe use of internet and social media in Clubs by members. Our safety policies and procedures adhere to the highest standards, including compliance with all national membership standards and requirements from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Our Clubs are required to report any suspected child abuse to the authorities. Communication around safety is encouraged. Club Directors have an open-door policy for members, parents, staff and volunteers to discuss any issues. Additionally, the President/CEO and Vice President of Operations are available.
Through Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s partnership with Praesidium, one of the nation’s leading safety experts, there is a 24 hour toll-free Child Safety Hotline, 1-866-607-SAFE (7233) to allow Boys & Girls Clubs staff members, volunteers and parents to confidentially report suspicions or concerns. Our facilities and vehicles comply with all applicable federal, state and local safety laws.
These are just some of the practices we employ to ensure the safety of the youth we serve. With guidance and support from Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we constantly look for ways to improve our practices and to introduce additional resources and training opportunities as they become available.
Child safety is our top priority. We work every day to create a safe, fun environment where kids can pursue academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles – all under the guidance of caring, trained, trustworthy adult leaders.