Child Safety Is Job #1

Ensuring child safety is fundamental to the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County

The Safety and Wellbeing of Young People is Our Number One Priority

We work every day to create a safe, fun environment so kids can have every opportunity to be successful in life. We have ZERO tolerance for inappropriate behavior of any kind, including child sexual abuse or misconduct, and we put resources behind that stance. 

Culture of Safety: Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County continually updates robust safety policies, programs and training for our staff and volunteers that are designed to promote child safety and protect young people from threats that are present in our society. We implement layers of safety policies and guidelines to keep our kids safe including:

  • All Clubs follow the safety plans of their school district for Crisis Response to LockDown, LockOut, Evacuate, Shelter, and Hold In Room situations

  • Code of Conduct for Members

  • Employee Handbook & Operations Manual

  • Crisis Communication Procedures

COVID 19 Safety: Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County follows guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Elkhart County Health Department for the safety of our members and their families. We encourage all staff, families and youth members to take precautions recommended by the CDC.

Safety Policies: Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County has comprehensive safety policies in place that protect youth – including, but not limited to, supervision, transportation, communication and prohibiting private one-on-one contact. 

24-hour Toll-free Child Safety Hotline: We encourage all staff, members and families to report any incident or situation they feel is unsafe. Through our national partnership with Praesidium, one of the nation’s leading safety experts, Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County members and staff have access to  a confidential 24-hour toll-free Child Safety Hotline, 866-607-SAFE (7233) or email SafeClub@Praesidiuminc.com

Mandatory Background Checks: Mandatory criminal background checks are required every year for every staff and board member at Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County. In addition, criminal background checks are required for any volunteer who has direct contact with children. All potential employees and volunteers are also run through VeriScreen.

Required Immediate Reporting: Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County staff and volunteers are all mandated reporters. We are required to report any critical incident/safety concern to local authorities immediately. We are also required to report any critical incident to Boys & Girls Clubs of America within 24 hours.

Mandatory Annual Safety Assessments: We complete a safety assessment each year to ensure we continually make improvements to safety at our Clubs.

Safety Trainings: Ongoing training and supervision of staff is critical. We participate in a wide variety of child safety training conducted including:

  • Guidance & Discipline Training

  • Regular Drills – Fire, Intruder, Shelter in Place

  • Trauma Informed Care: Responding to Club Members in effective ways 

  • Child Safety & Protection Trainings:

    • Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention

      • Including physical, emotional, sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct awareness and prevention

    • Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Training

    • TCI – De-escalation Training

    • Facility & Vehicle Maintenance and Safety

  • Building Safety Specialist – Indiana Department of Education Training

  • Illegal Substance Identification and Signs of Use/Abuse

  • Field Trip Training for Safety Outside the Club

  • Member Swim Lessons with Certified Swim School

  • Water Safety Training through BGCA & Redwoods Group 

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.

Safety Committee: Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County has a dedicated safety committee to provide input and guidance on local policies and safety strategies. Priorities and initiatives include:

Mandatory Employee Reference: Any employee 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.   

State and Local Laws: We comply with federal, state and local safety laws, including those impacting facilities and vehicles. 

Safety Partnerships: Nationally, Boys & Girls Clubs of America works with leading experts in the areas of safety, security and technology to develop state-of-the-art solutions for Clubs. Partners include:

  • National Child Safety Advisory Task Force, made up of leading experts and organizations

  • 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

  • Crisis Text Line, a confidential text message service for youth in times of crisis

Locally, Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County partners with:

  • Goshen Community Schools

  • Elkhart Community Schools

  • Wa-Nee Community Schools

  • Middlebury Community Schools

  • Local first responders, fire and police departments

  • Indiana Department of Education

  • Indiana State Police Department for active intruder training

  • Partnership for Children; Oaklawn; Bashor; Bowen Center; Ryan’s Place; The Source

Nationally, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has advocated the passage of the U.S. PROTECT Act, which improved background screening systems and access. The national organization has also partnered with the FBI, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Centers for Disease Control to contribute to the development of safety practices that benefit ALL youth-serving organizations.

America’s young people deserve nothing less than our constant focus on their safety and our firm commitment to protect every child who is entrusted to our care at Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County. To learn more about our national safety policies and actions, please visit Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Child Safety page, here.

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