Childcare and Youth Program Safety Strategies

youth program

At Cincinnati Sports Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, risk management is so important that the club has a whole team dedicated to advising and assisting with all risk-related issues.

“Programming ideas are raised at their meetings, which are then subject to review by the team for any and all risks of injury, legal ramifications or negative impact on the members and culture of the club,” said Mary Frank, the sales and marketing manager at Cincinnati Sports Club. “Once all scenarios are accounted for and a positive outcome is established, then the programming ideas are approved.”

For the risk management team, youth program risk management and safety is of high importance. A number of strategies are used to mitigate risk, including educating employees, children and parents on possible risks that may arise from a variety of scenarios, in addition to the close monitoring of all activities.

Frank explained working closely with the local authorities to manage risks, both seen and unforeseen, is crucial for safety. “We work closely with the Village of Fairfax Police Department — their substation is directly adjacent to the property, and our security staff has an afterhours direct phone line to the officers on duty,” she said. “It allows us to bypass the Hamilton County Dispatch Center, which allows the Fairfax Police Department to respond very quickly, saving on average three minutes of response time per call. They help us conduct our active shooter training with all staff members, and we have an employee manual that outlines proper procedures for proper conduct, sexual misconduct and how to spot possible threats to everyone’s safety.”

According to Frank, Cincinnati Sports Club has just over 30 cameras located inside and outside of its 15-acre property. “Additionally, we have two license plate cameras, one at each entrance, which are monitored by the Village of Fairfax police substation,” she said. “Having these cameras helps us to manage our risk. The cameras allow us to eliminate hearsay and show video for insurance claims or police procedure.”

Here, Frank shares the club’s youth-specific risk management strategies that help protect not just the club from liability, but the safety of kids in childcare and those participating in youth programs.

Cincinnati Sports Club’s Youth Risk Management Strategies:

Training, training, training. “Physical health and wellbeing is of utmost importance to the children’s center,” said Frank. “Every childcare employee is required to complete a Sexual Misconduct Awareness training course, which stresses vigilance and awareness for both victims of abuse and spots groomers, which could be a potential threat towards children. In addition, our employees must complete our Blood Borne Pathogen Training every year, and maintain a CPR certification with retest requirements every two years. When it comes to unexpected or possible life-threatening emergencies, our childcare employees and summer staff are trained and tested for active shooter, inclement weather and lost child drills.”

Safe transport. “Child transport through the club is a major area of focus,” said Frank. “Any time children are transported from one location to another, they are required to use the transport rope, which has handles for each child to hold during the journey. Staff members are positioned at the front and back of the transport lines; if the group is large and an additional rope is needed, a staff member will be placed between the rope lines to serve as the connection between them. If two activities plan to use the transport ropes at the same time, the smaller group of the two will wear neon penny jerseys to maintain separation of the groups.”

Summer camp education.Summer camp programming requires proper education for both staff and parents of participants,” continued Frank. “Every employee working with children in summer camp receives training about water safety procedures, including the Yoni Gottesman video about a real life drowning. General awareness is key for summer safety, so we have posted signs stating the possible risks associated with each activity, brochures available throughout the club and on our website that explain all child-specific policies, and handbooks distributed to each parent that provides important details about each program.”

Water risks. “Our water safety efforts are one of the most important facets of our safe summer environment – specifically our swimming colored band procedures,” said Frank. “For summer programming that involves swimming activities, all children are shown instructional videos about pool and water safety. On the first day of camp, participants are given a red wristband indicating that they are a non-swimmer that must remain in the shallow end of the pool. On each subsequent day, each camper has the opportunity to take the swim test administered by the head lifeguard; if they pass the test, the red wristband is replaced with a green wristband, indicating that they are a proficient swimmer with permission to access the entire pool. If the camper does not pass the swim test, they keep the red wristband, and must remain in the shallow end where they are able to stand. All camp staff, pool staff and lifeguards are trained on the colored wristband system for team-wide awareness.”

Bonus tip: “The club has also included Minor Indemnification clauses on all liability waivers for members and guests,” added Frank. “These clauses protect the club from any minor member or minor guest with the statute of limitations. The current statute of limitations for minors is two years past an 18th birthday.”

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