Ensuring child safety is fundamental to the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga!
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: BGCC 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:
- Multi-layer Background checks are done for all staff, volunteers, and board members prior to hire and continually throughout the year
- Fingerprint Background checks performed by the State of TN is performed for every staff member prior to employment
- All staff and volunteers are screened prior to service and yearly against the State of TN Abuse Registry and Sex Offender Registry
- Unit Managers complete annual safety assessments
- All Unit Managers, full-time, and part-time staff attend child safety trainings each year
- All staff and volunteers are trained as mandated reporters during the onboarding process and are required to report any signs of abuse or maltreatment to the appropriate authorities immediately
- All of our Club units are certified by the Department of Education to ensure high standards; audits are conducted on an ongoing basis
- Security cameras are installed in all Club units
- At Club sites, bathrooms are monitored to ensure the safety of members; separate single use restrooms are available for adult staff, volunteers, and visitors
- Unused program spaces and storage areas are locked when not in use
- A dedicated, Board-led safety committee meets regularly to discuss safety issues and introduce new information and resources
Staff and volunteers follow comprehensive safety protocols at all times. An emergency preparedness plan is in place at each Club site and staff follow a detailed critical incident reporting procedure for all incidents, regardless of severity. Additionally, at least one staff member on duty must be currently certified in CPR and the administration of first aid; first aid kits are present in all areas of every Club. We also have procedures in place for the transition of Club members from one area of the Club to another and at least one staff member is present during each time of movement.
Safety Policies: BGCC 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, BGCC 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 BGCC. In addition, criminal background checks are required for any volunteer who has direct, repetitive contact with children.
Required Immediate Reporting: BGCC 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 such as seminars, conferences, webinars and more. 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.
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, BGCC partners with the police departments in our communities as well as various mental health organizations.
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.