UACES Facebook C.E.S.P. 3-21: Youth Protection Program

 

Program Management

C.E.S.P. 3-21: Youth Protection Program

Date Revised: 5-17-2012
Supersedes: 8-25-2009

Summary: Establishes policy and procedures regarding child abuse prevention, recognition and reporting.

 I.    Purpose

Legally, "child" means any person under 18 years of age. "Abuse" means any physical injury, mental injury, or sexual mistreatment inflicted on a child other than by accidental means or an injury which is at variance with the history given. Child abuse includes non-accidental physical injury, neglect, sexual molestation, and emotional abuse. "Neglect" means failure to provide, by those legally responsible for the care and maintenance of the child, the proper or necessary support; education, as required by law; or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for his/her well-being; or any maltreatment of the child.

The increasing incidence of reported child abuse and neglect in our state and throughout the nation are a special concern to the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. This youth protection program was developed to safeguard employees, volunteers, and program participants.

II.     Responsibility

County Extension Agents - Staff Chair and District Directors are responsible for the implementation and maintenance of this youth protection program in their respective administrative units. The Assistant Director - 4H Youth Development is designated as the official state contact and spokesperson on all child abuse matters related to the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

III.      Recruitment, Training, and Supervision of Extension Faculty and Classified Staff

A. Reference checks on all prospective employees who will be involved to any degree in Extension youth programs will be conducted and filed prior to employment.

B. Extension personnel responsible for hiring will request through the office of the Director a check of law enforcement and social service agency records of persons to be employed to work directly with youth and youth development education programs and their related events. Youth to be employed in programs such as child care and camping will be included in this employee screening process. After the offer of employment is made, the candidate will be required to complete Form E.H.I.R.E. - 164, Authorization for Release of Confidential Information and submit a notarized copy to the hiring supervisor.

C. All Extension faculty and classified staff who work directly with youth are required to participate in an orientation program including written materials explaining Extension policies and procedures relating to child abuse. They will acknowledge in writing having received and read appropriate policies and procedures (Certification Letter B Youth Protection Program).

D. Faculty and classified staff working directly with youth will be provided information about identifying signs of possible child abuse. Training will include approved procedures for responding to the suspicion of child abuse.

IV.      Recruitment, Training, and Supervision of Program Volunteers

A. A signed 4 - H Volunteer Application must be on file in the county Extension office for all volunteer adult leaders working directly with youth in Extension programs (4 - H, E.F.N.E.P., etc.).

B. Reference checks on all prospective program volunteers, including checks of available public records, will be conducted to properly evaluate the individual's suitability to perform in a leadership capacity. A Sample Letter Requesting Reference for Volunteer Applicant, F.Y.4-H-700, is provided. Requests for record checks will be submitted to the office of the Director. Prospective volunteers should be asked to complete form E.H.I.R.E. - 164, Authorization for Release of Confidential Information and submit a notarized copy to the responsible Extension agent. Youth volunteer leaders in programs such as child care and camping are included in this screening process.

C. All volunteers who work directly with youth will be provided with orientation training including written materials explaining Extension policies and procedures relating to child abuse. They will acknowledge in writing having received and read appropriate policies and procedures.  Complete Certification of Reading Youth Protection Materials, F.Y.4-H-701.

D. Volunteers working directly with youth will be provided information about identifying signs of possible child abuse. Training will include approved procedures for responding to the suspicion of child abuse.

V.      Relationships With Youth

A. Faculty, staff, and volunteers are to avoid being alone with a single youth, including sharing sleeping quarters with non-related youth.

B. Extension faculty, staff, and volunteers are encouraged not to socialize with program participants under the age of 18 outside of Extension program activities.

C. Extension faculty, staff, and volunteers will not, under any circumstances, discipline program participants by use of physical punishment or by failing to provide the necessities of care, such as food or shelter.

D. Faculty, staff, and volunteers should be alert to the physical and emotional state of all program participants. They should be alert for indicators of child abuse and report suspected abuse according to prescribed procedures.

VI.      Responsibilities to Parents

A. Parents will be encouraged to visit Extension programs at any time.

B. The Cooperative Extension Service will offer educational information on child abuse to parents and youth.

VII.      Reporting Procedures

A. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service views the reporting of suspected child abuse as both a personal and professional obligation.

1. When Extension faculty, staff, or volunteers suspect child abuse in connection with an Extension youth program, they will immediately inform the Assistant Director - 4H Youth Development either directly or through channels.

2. When Extension faculty, staff, or volunteers suspect child abuse or neglect occurring apart from Extension youth programs, they are urged to report the situation to appropriate authorities.

B. The Extension staff person receiving an initial report of suspected child abuse in connection with an Extension youth program will, as soon as possible and to the extent possible, investigate the allegations and determine the condition of the child. The course of further action, including notification of appropriate authorities, will be determined by the appropriate administrator.

C. A decision will be made by the responsible Extension staff member regarding notification of the child's parent(s) or legal guardian. When possible, parental notification will be made by a responsible administrator.

D. If the alleged incident involves an Extension faculty or staff member or program volunteer, the responsible Extension administrator will suspend the person from all activities involving the supervision of children. Suspension will continue until the person is cleared or allegations are proven.

E. All information regarding alleged child abuse will be maintained under strict confidentiality. Information will be communicated only on a "need-to-know" basis.

Questions and Answers About Child Abuse
(For Extension Employees and Volunteers)

1. What is child abuse and neglect?

Arkansas Act 397 of 1975 defines who is considered a child and what is considered to be abuse and neglect:


(a) "Child" means any person under eighteen (18) years of age; 

(b) "Abuse" means any physical injury, mental injury, or sexual mistreatment inflicted on a child other than by accidental means, or an injury which is at variance with the history of it; 

(C) "Neglect" means a failure to provide, by those legally responsible for the care and maintenance of the child, the proper or necessary support; education, as required by law; or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for his/her well-being; or any maltreatment of the child.

2. Am I required to report known or suspected instances of child neglect or abuse?

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service views the reporting of suspected child abuse as both a personal and professional obligation. You are required to report any known or suspected incidents of child abuse occurring in connection with an Extension program or activity. If you have knowledge of abuse or neglect in situations not related to the Extension program, you are urged to report the situation to appropriate authorities.

3. If I report, am I liable?

Under Arkansas law, persons who report suspected child abuse and neglect in good faith are immune from liability.

4. To whom do I report?

Anyone who thinks that a child has been abused or neglected should report to the Department of Human Services county office during regular working hours. Also, a toll free number is available for reporting 24 hours per day seven days per week (1-800-482-5964).

Instances related to Extension activities should be reported to the Assistant Director - 4H Youth Development either directly or through channels.

5. What do I do if an abuse situation occurs at an Extension activity?

a. Stay calm.
b. Handle the matter as discreetly as possible.
c. Remove the child from danger.
d. Obtain any needed medical treatment.
e. Notify the Assistant Director - 4H Youth Development either directly or through channels.

6. How do I handle questions from the media

Refer all questions to the Assistant Director - 4H Youth Development who is designated as the official state contact and spokesperson on all child abuse matters related to the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

7. How will parents be notified?

A decision will be made by the responsible Extension staff member regarding how a child's parent(s) or legal guardian will be notified of a report of abuse. When possible, informing will be done by the responsible administrators.

8. How can I protect myself from unfounded allegations of child abuse?

You are encouraged to avoid, where possible, being alone with a single youth. You are encouraged not to socialize with Extension program participants under the age of 18 outside of Extension program activities.

You are forbidden, under any circumstances, to discipline Extension program participants by the use of physical punishment or by failing to provide the necessities of care, such as food or shelter. You should respect the privacy of youth participants in situations such as changing into swimming suits or taking showers and intrude only to the extent that health and safety requires.

Encourage parental participation in youth activities when practical.

How do I recognize child abuse?

Forms

E.H.I.R.E.- 164: Authorization of Release of Confidential Information
F.Y.4 - H-700: Sample Letter Requesting Reference for Volunteer Applicant
F.Y.4 - H - 701: Certification of Reading Youth Protection Policy
F.Y.4 - H - 119: Youth Protection Adult Leader Application Process Checklist