April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and our Y is joining with YMCAs all across the country to take action and raise awareness about how to prevent child sexual abuse. From April 15-19, our Y will be participating in the Five Days of Action for Child Abuse Prevention to educate adults about how they can “KNOW. SEE. RESPOND.”
Here are just a few ways you can take action to help protect the children in our community:
1. Take the Pledge to Protect Children.
We’re encouraging all adults in our community to take the Pledge to Protect Children. Stop by the Y’s Welcome Center this week to add your name to the list of caring adults who pledge:
- To use my voice to let other adults know protection is our responsibility
- To be a trusted adult to children
- To know the facts about child sexual abuse
- To be an active bystander if I see someone crossing boundaries
- To respond responsibly if a child discloses abuse or if I discover abuse
- To insist that organizations in my community have protection policies
- To help change our culture to be one that protects children and puts them first.
2. Learn more about the Y’s Child Protection Policies & Practices
At the Attleboro YMCA, we believe it is our duty and obligation to protect every child who walks through our doors or participates in one of our programs. To ensure your child’s safety, our staff must adhere to the Y’s Code of Conduct and Background Checks & Child Protection Policies that include:
- Staff & volunteer screening and hiring policies: Background checks (CORI and SORI) and reference checks are conducted on every Attleboro Y staff and volunteer.
- Additional requirements for child care staff: In addition to the regular employee screenings all childcare staff must additionally be screened and approved through the Massachusetts Early Education and Care Department through the following screening processes: SORI, CORI, Department of Children and Families, and fingerprinting.
- Staff & volunteer training and education: All Y staff and volunteers are required to take a Child Abuse Prevention training at the time of hire. We also require staff to take Child Abuse Prevention refresher trainings every year.
- Member screening: The Y conducts a regular check of our membership, program participants, and visitors to ensure there are no Level II or Level III sex offenders using our facilities.
- Program supervision and operation: At no time is a child alone with a staff person where they cannot be observed by others. All Y programs abide by the “Rule of Three,” where staff and children are in groups of at least three—one staff with two children, or two staff with one child—whether working on a project, transitioning to another activity area, or going to the restrooms.
- Restrictions around babysitting and outside contact: Staff and volunteers must refrain from interactions with YMCA program participants under 18 years of age when they’re outside of the YMCA program activities. YMCA staff may not babysit, provide care or instruction, or maintain relationships outside the YMCA with any children or families they meet through YMCA programs.
- Responding to allegations of child abuse: All staff members have been trained in reporting child abuse/neglect and are considered mandated reporters. This means that when a child comes to a staff member with a report of abuse or if a staff member suspects that a child is the victim of abuse, that staff member must forward that information on to a supervisor, who if deemed necessary, will place a call to the Department of Child and Family Services. If it is believed that a staff member is abusive or neglectful, that person will be removed from working with children. Pending the outcome of an investigation, it will be decided whether to reinstate, suspend or terminate the staff member.
Child protection is a community initiative that requires teamwork and cooperation from all sides. In order to keep children safe at the Y and in the Y’s programs, we need your help. We ask that you review these policies and follow the YMCA’s guidelines.
If you have questions about our policies or our child protection initiatives, please contact Senior Child Care Director Carol Mahoney at email@example.com or (508) 409-0774.
3. Report any incidents
If you feel that any members or staff are behaving inappropriately at any time, we encourage you to report any issues to our Management Staff.