Ensuring Child Safety is Fundamental to the Mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Hernando County(BGCHC)
We work every day to create a safe, 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: BGCHC 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 continually enhance and implement layers of safety policies and guidelines to keep our kids safe including but not limited to:
- Child Safety and Prevention
- Health and Sanitation
- Planning for Emergencies
- Preventing Child Abuse and Supporting Children in Trauma
- Safety in the Environment
- Supporting the Social and Emotional Development of Youth
Safety Policies: BGCHC 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, BGCHC 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 upon hire and annually for every staff and board member at BGCHC. In addition, criminal background checks are required for any volunteer that regularly interacts with youth. All potential employees and recurring volunteers also run through the National Sex Offender Registry.
Required Immediate Reporting: BGCHC 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 register 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 improve safety at our Club.
Safety Training: Ongoing training and supervision of staff are critical. We participate in a wide variety of child safety training such as conferences, webinars, and a semi-annual safety symposium. We also engage leading third-party safety experts to guide our policies and approaches, including Praesidium, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the National Children's Advocacy Center.
Safety Committee: BGCHC has a dedicated Safety Committee to provide input and guidance on local policies and safety strategies. Priorities and initiatives include:
- Developing safety policies and procedures as needed. Annually review existing policies to ensure they continue to meet BGCHC's needs.
- Reviewing emergency procedure training and processes
- Strengthen and expand social-emotional programming
Mandatory Employee Reference: Any employee interested in moving to another Boys & Girls Club must 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, BGCHC partners with:
- Hernando County Sheriff's Department
- Hernando County School District
- Brooksville Police Department
- Florida Health Department
- BayCare Health System
Nationally, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has advocated for 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 protecting every child who is entrusted to our care at BGCHC. To learn more about our national safety policies and actions, please visit Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Child Safety page, here. In addition, you can view BGCHC's "Child & Club Safety Handbook" by clicking the link below or visiting one of our Club sites.