Youth development is at the core of the Greater Wichita YMCA's mission. To support that mission, we want children to feel happy, and be safe and empowered. We (the members, donors, visitors, staff, and volunteers of the Greater Wichita YMCA) are committed to the safety of all children in our facilities and in the larger community and hold and honor the following commitments:
Support and respect all children Promote the safety, participation, and empowerment of all children in our care Allow zero tolerance, taking any and all safety safety concerns seriously and resolving them consistently under our child safety policies and procedures Embrace and rigorously honor our moral and legal obligations to contact authorities any time there is concern for a child’s safety Prevent all forms of child abuse by identifying, reducing, and removing risks early. Screen all staff and volunteers working with children and within our organization to prevent potential abuse Train and educate—before and during engagement—all staff and volunteers on the risks, processes, and procedures for preventing child abuse Support our leadership team, staff, and volunteers with resources, training, and tools to achieve the above commitments
To ensure the safety of children and adults in YMCA activities, we focus on four areas to deter potential abusers:
1) EFFECTIVE PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES
We seek employees and volunteers that are enthusiastic about helping our community and the development of children in the greater Wichita area. We balance that commitment with a series of policies that ensure they are qualified and appropriate and we also want to ensure our members and visitors are not a challenge to child safety:
- All YMCA employees - regardless of their role within the organization - undergo rigid employment checks including comprehensive county, state and federal criminal background checks; social security traces; national sex offender registry (SOR) checks, global watch and nationwide alert list checks; and multiple professional and personal reference checks, all looking for potential child abuse and extremes in behavior prior to being hired. All employees, once hired but before starting in their job, also undergo a variety of required training—including sexual abuse prevention.
- All YMCA volunteers who work with and around children also undergo thorough screening processes including: comprehensive county, state and federal criminal background checks; social security traces, and national sex offender registry (SOR) checks.
- All staff and volunteers are required to know and observe our policies (membership, privacy, access, etc.) that guide our processes and procedures.
- All YMCA members, program participants and day pass guests undergo national sex offender registry (SOR) checks.
In 2018, the Greater Wichita YMCA implemented a series of enhancements to our processes and procedures including:
- Updating personal information and photos to help ensure member safety
- Requiring current photos be on file before a participant may drop-off or pick-up a child from any Y Kid Zone
- Making printed copies of our Kid Zone Policies readily available to all staff, members, and those dropping-off/picking-up children
- Checking the national sex offender registry (SOR) daily for any employees, volunteers, etc.
- Engaging with Prasedium, a nationally-renowned abuse prevention organization, to regularly evaluate and, as needed, improve eight areas in our operations—policies, screening and selection, training, monitoring and supervision, internal feedback systems, consumer participation, response policies, and administrative practices
2) STATE-OF-THE-ART SECURITY POLICIES AND EQUIPMENT
In addition to our processes and procedures, the Y has always focused on security measures to help ensure safety within our facilities and program spaces. In 2018 the Greater Wichita YMCA expanded our security systems to a state-of-the-art implementation that includes:
- Addition 100+ security cameras to our facilities that expand the field of view for the system and reduce less-visible areas in and around our facilities including our Kid Zones
- Replacing dozens of older cameras with newer devices that adjust to lighting conditions, provide clearer images, and allow for zooming and enhanced viewing of specific areas and/or activities
- Installing, in addition to more and upgraded cameras, new and advanced wiring, recording systems, and other technologies to improve the overall security of our facilities and grounds
3) HIGHLY VISIBLE SPACES
The Greater Wichita YMCA is also focused on security measures and practices that ensure safety within our locations and program spaces. Our buildings and facilities are designed with visibility in mind. Enhancements in 2018 improved those policies including:
- Evaluating and improving visibility in key areas that serve children including minimizing or removing items that even partially obstructed staff and camera visibility
- Replacing remaining full doors so all Kid Zone restrooms have half-doors
- Adding "Kid Watch" at several Greater Wichita YMCA locations so staff and parents can view security camera footage for a live-feed of Kid Zone activities
4) SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
While our policies and procedures establish how we, as an organization, will protect our community - we share the responsibility in executing and honoring our promises with all members of the Y family. To that end, we urge our staff, volunteers, members, and visitors:
- IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. We insist that any person at our facilities who observes anything they feel jeopardizes the safety of a Y participant (child or adult) should immediately report it to a Y staff member or other, appropriate people or parties.
We will continue to regularly review our policies, processes, and practices as relates to the safety of our members, guests, and visitors - especially children - to ensure we are doing all we can for those we serve.