At Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County, Child Safety is Job No. 1
The Safety and Wellbeing of Young People is Our Number One Priority.
Ensuring child safety is fundamental to the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County. 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.
MANDATORY BACKGROUND CHECKS: Mandatory criminal background checks are required every year for every staff and board member at Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County. In addition, criminal background checks are required for any volunteer who has direct contact with children. These are conducted in advance, as well as each year. They are conducted by a third-party vendor engaged for this purpose, and includes screenings through the child abuse and sex offender registry, as well as county, state, and national criminal records.
SAFETY TRAINING: Ongoing training and supervision of staff is critical. We participate in a wide variety of child safety trainings each year. 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. Each year, staff receive training on the requirements of being a Mandated Reporter, how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to childhood sexual abuse, First Aid/CPR, Supervision of Children, and more.
EQUIPMENT: Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County focuses on safety when making resource allocations and decisions regarding equipment and other capital expenditures.
FACILITIES: Club-owned facilities have been renovated or built to maintain clear lines of sight throughout the building, allow for single-use restrooms, and eliminate any blindspots from supervision.
CULTURE OF SAFETY: Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County 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.
SAFETY POLICIES: Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County 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, Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County 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 Whatcom County 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 Club(s).
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 COMMITTEE: Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County has a dedicated safety committee to provide input and guidance on local policies and safety strategies. Current members include:
- Lori Brown- Safety Committee Chair, Phillips 66
- Brett Nebeker- Rice Insurance
- Jim McKenna- BP
- Josh Cantor- Bellingham Cold Storage
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
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 Whatcom County . To learn more about our national safety policies and actions, please visit Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Child Safety page, here.