At Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania, Child Safety is Job No. 1
Ensuring child safety is fundamental to the mission of BGCWPA
The Safety and Wellbeing of Young People is Our Number One Priority
We work every day to create a safe, inclusive and fun environment so kids can have every opportunity to be successful in life. We have no tolerance for inappropriate behavior of any kind, including child sexual abuse or misconduct, and we put resources behind that stance.
Culture of Safety: BGCWPA continually updates robust safety policies, programs and training for staff and volunteers to promote child safety and protect young people from threats in our society. These resources include but are not limited to:
- Emergency preparedness plan by location
- Organizational Health & Safety Plan
- Annual renewal of family handbook signoff
- Annual renewal of employee handbook signoff
- All documents updated with board guidance
- Annual submission of emergency plans to local EMS units and police departments
Safety Policies: BGCWPA maintains comprehensive safety policies that protect youth, including but not limited to policies on supervision, transportation, communication and prohibition of 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, BGCWPA members and staff have access to a confidential 24-hour toll-free Child Safety Hotline at 866-607-SAFE (7233) or SafeClub@Praesidiuminc.com.
Mandatory Background Checks: Mandatory criminal background checks are required upon hire and annually for every staff and board member at BGCWPA. In addition, criminal background checks are required for any volunteer who has direct, repetitive contact with children. All potential employees and volunteers are run through the National Sex Offender Registry.
Required Immediate Reporting: BGCWPA staff and volunteers are all mandated reporters and 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 employ a multi-tiered safety assessment approach to ensure we continually make improvements to safety at our Clubs.
Safety Trainings: Ongoing training and supervision of staff are critical. We participate in a wide variety of child safety training through online courses, seminars, conferences and webinars. 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: BGCWPA has a dedicated Board-led Safety Committee to provide input and guidance on local policies and safety strategies. Priorities and initiatives include:
- Review of Health & Safety and Emergency Management plans
- Annual safety checks of all stand alone Clubhouses
- Review of potential safety hazards
Mandatory Employee Reference: Any employee interested in moving to another Boys & Girls Club is required to have a reference from their 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, composed of local Club leaders who provide input on 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, BGCWPA partners with:
- Local police departments
- Local emergency management services
- Contracted local transportation services
- Local providers of CPR/First Aid quarterly trainings
- Pennsylvania Department of Human Services