The following guidelines are from the Redwoods Group Foundation, which supports YMCA programs and Stewards of Children training in Delaware and nationally.
These are several recommended practices to ensure children are safe from the threat of child abuse. Make sure the summer youth program you’re evaluating uses these or something similar:
A child should never be alone with a staff member (but may be separate, if in full view of others).
Children should not be contacted by staff except for issues relating directly to currently ongoing activities (i.e., no letters, email, telephone calls, visits, non-association-based excursions, etc.).
Children should never receive gifts of any kind from individual staff members.
Children should always be transported in association-identified vehicles (or appropriately identified vendor-operated vehicles), never in a staff member’s personal vehicle, and never alone.
Staff members should not baby-sit members or program participants. If the baby-sitting relationship pre-existed the relationship through your organization, your CEO could make an exception, but a specific acknowledgement and waiver.
Parents who become aware of hazing, bullying, or similar behavior should report the incident to facility administrators.
Children should be treated equally with respect to gender, race, religion, culture, or ability. This is policy is upheld for both peers as well as staff members.
Children should be encouraged to discuss their experiences with their parents and to identify any behavior or activity that made them uncomfortable.
Staff members and authorized volunteers should have organization-issued identification, preferably with photograph. The identification should be visible whenever they are working with children.
Children must sign into and out of programs each day. Children in programs requiring adult drop-off and pick-up (e.g., childcare) will only be released to pre-authorized individuals.
Parents should be provided with the names of at least two separate individuals employed by the association whom they may contact if they believe there is an issue of any kind that needs to be addressed.
Participants and/or their parents should be polled at each program’s end both to identify strengths and potential problems and to evaluate the relationship between expectations and experiences.
And remember, under Delaware law, every adult has a mandatory obligation to report suspected child abuse to authorities. All reports of child abuse and neglect in the State of Delaware should be made to the 24 hour Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-292-9582.