At the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, Child Safety is Job No. 1
Ensuring child safety is fundamental to the mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke.
The Safety and Wellbeing of Young People is Our Number One Priority
We work every day to create a safe, inclusive, and 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: The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke continually updates robust safety policies, programs and training for staff and volunteers to promote child safety and protect young people from threats in our society. Before providing services to young people, and annually thereafter these resources include but are not limited to:
- Screening and Hiring of all Employees and VolunteersBoys & Girls Clubs of Greater Holyoke will establish and sustain proper hiring and volunteer selection practices, including completed applications, reference checks, Criminal Background Checks, Social Security checks and documented personnel files.
- TrainingThe rules and expectations will be shared with each new associate/volunteer and regularly reinforced with existing staff and volunteers. This will be done in new associate training, abuse prevention training, the use of a comprehensive Code of Conduct and HR Policies & Procedures.
- SupervisionManagement staff will have day-to-day interaction, unannounced visits, regular audits, and performance reviews to ensure that staff and volunteers understand and follow all organization protocols.
- Feedback SystemNo matter how well we supervise our staff/volunteers, we can’t see everything all the time. All staff/volunteers will be trained to report anything they notice regarding a gap between protocols and practices. Feedback and community involvement are vital components of staff supervision and abuse prevention.
Safety Policies: The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke maintains comprehensive safety policies that protect youth, including but not limited to policies on supervision, transportation, communication, and prohibition of 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, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke members and staff have access to a confidential 24-hour toll-free Child Safety Hotline at 866-607-SAFE (7233) or .
Mandatory Background Checks: Mandatory criminal background checks are required upon hire and annually for every staff and board member at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke. In addition, criminal background checks are required for any volunteer who has direct, repetitive contact with children. All potential employees and volunteers are run through the National Sex Offender Registry.
Required Immediate Reporting: The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke staff and volunteers are all mandated reporters and 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 employ a multi-tiered safety assessment approach to ensure we continually make improvements to safety at our Club(s).
Safety Trainings: Ongoing training and supervision of staff are critical. We participate in a wide variety of child safety training through online courses, seminars, conferences, and webinars. 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.
Safety Committee: The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke has a dedicated Board-led Safety Committee to provide input and guidance on local policies and safety strategies. Priorities and initiatives include:
- Promoting a safe environment for youth, staff, and families
- Identifying and addressing safety concerns
- Developing and implementing safety policies and procedures
- Educating employees on safety best practices
Mandatory Employee Reference: Any employee interested in moving to another Boys & Girls Club is required to have a reference from their 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 work 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, composed of local Club leaders who provide input on 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, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke partners with:
- The Holyoke Police Department
- The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
- The Hampden County District Attorney’s Office
- Goss & McLain Insurance Company
Continued Commitment: In July 2020, Boys & Girls Club organizations voted to adopt additional safety measures to further improve safety within our Clubs. Though many of these practices were already commonplace across our Movement, this vote made them mandatory for all Clubs. These include more stringent reference and background checks, enhanced Safety Committee requirements, stronger communication of key safety resources and information, and more. With unprecedented majority, on July 26, 2021, local Boys & Girls Clubs voted in record number to adopt additional membership requirements that further enhance child safety, implementing recommendations from RAINN that began in 2020 and will continue over the next two years - a demonstration of our continued commitment to keeping kids safe.
Nationally, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has advocated for passage of the U.S. PROTECT Act to improve 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 support 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 the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke. To learn more about our national safety policies and actions, please visit Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Child Safety page.