Safety & Security
At Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area child safety and wellbeing is our number one priority.
Ensuring child safety is fundamental to the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Research is clear that when kids feel safe they have better outcomes in life, which is exactly why we do the work we do – building great futures by serving local youth who need us most to help them become productive, caring and responsible citizens in our community. Inherent in this is the safeguarding of those kids and teens who are entrusted to our care and engaged with our Clubs. We work every day to create a safe, fun environment so kids can have every opportunity to be successful in life.
Zero Tolerance: 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 the Austin Area 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:
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 the Austin Area members and staff have access to a confidential 24-hour toll-free Child Safety Hotline, 866-607-SAFE (7233) or email SafeClub@Praesidiuminc.com.
Required Immediate Reporting: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area 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.
Onboarding & Background Checks:
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area requires mandatory criminal background checks every year for every staff and board member. 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 the National Sex Offender Registry.
- In addition to background checks, onboarding includes Darkness to Light training, First Aid and CPR Training for all staff, and training on safety and security procedures and strategies.
Six-Step Nationally Enforced Safety Plan:
Together with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area follows the nationally mandated six-step safety plan to provide a safe and secure experience for youth:
- Criminal background checks
- Confidential toll-free Child Safety Helpline, 866-607-SAFE (7233), email at SafeClub@Praesidiuminc.com
- Ongoing child safety training
- Highest standard of safety policies and procedures
- Facilities & vehicles must comply with federal, state and local safety laws
- Reinforcing a culture of safety, including initiatives:
- National Child Safety Advisory Task Force
- Dedicated Child Safety Committee on National Board of Governors
- National Safety Award Program
- National Child Safety and Protection Symposium
- Plus, we are constantly evaluating and refining our safety initiatives locally and on a national level to ensure the utmost security of our youth.
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 the Austin Area partners closely with:
- Austin Police Department
- Austin Police Department Police Activities League (PAL)
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Center for Child Protection
- School Districts in which our Clubs operate
- And many more partners who help support safety & security for our kids
Safety Trainings: Ongoing training and supervision of staff is critical. We participate in a variety of child safety training measures. 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. Locally, training includes:
- Yearly active shooter and active intruder trainings with support from the Austin Police Department and Department of Public Safety
- Bi-annual safety trainings conducted
- Participate in a yearly mandatory training with the Center for Child Protection to educate staff on reporting procedures and identification of abuse signs
- Child abuse and neglect training and youth interaction policy training for all full-time staff and volunteers
- Through a relationship with the Dept. of Public Safety, State of Texas, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area is notified of any staff who have interactions with the law
- Ongoing online and in-person safety trainings and refreshers
Safety Assessments & Audits: We complete a safety assessment each year to ensure we continually make improvements to safety at our Clubs. In addition, we audit Club locations throughout the year to ensure adherence to policies and processes.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area conducts regular audits at all area locations to ensure adherence to our policies and standards. This includes monthly observations at Club sites
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area Safety Committee meets quarterly to review policies and procedures for the safety of members and staff
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.
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 the Austin Area. To learn more about our national safety policies and actions, please visit Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Child Safety page, here.