There are countless unique risks and liabilities associated with a child care facility. One liability that has been highlighted in the media in recent years is the sexual abuse of minors. Whether false or real, such a lawsuit can have severe consequences. Your top priority is to ensure the safety of your students. You also need to keep the financial, legal and reputation effects of these types of situations in mind.
Take These Steps to Prevent Sexual Harassment in Your Facility:
1. Choose Staff Carefully
Take the proper precautions when you are hiring new staff and volunteers. Require that all paid staff consent in writing to a federal criminal background check. Volunteers who have direct contact with minors should also be required to consent to a federal background check. Search for all workers and volunteers on the National Sex Offenders Public Registry, to check for any type of sex offender record. Ask that employees and volunteers provide a list of non-family references as well, and ask references about the person's character and previous behavior.
2. Set Supervision Guidelines
It is important to set guidelines for staff conduct for two reasons. First, it protects minors from ill-intentioned adults and makes the environment safer. Second, it protects employees and volunteers from potentially false allegations. Always aim to have at least two adults in a room. Discourage one-on-one contact, require that at least two adults are in a room with an adult, and have a supervisor check in periodically.
3. Provide Staff Training
An important step that some organizations overlook is providing adequate education and training to allow staff to understand the risk of sexual misconduct. Work with your staff to reduce the liabilities and risks associated with this. Most importantly, ensuring that the environment you are fostering and the practices you are supporting are safe and comfortable for all of your kids and employees.
4. Take Suspicions and Allegations Seriously
In training sessions, emphasize that all staff members are required to report suspicions or evidence of abuse to superiors. Senior staff should forward these reports to the proper law enforcement officials immediately. Remove the employee allegedly responsible from duty. Keep detailed written records of the allegations and interviews with the victims or alleged abusers.
Re-visit your policies regularly to make sure that you and your staff are following procedures to handle situations appropriately and preventing situations all together.
Contact Carriage Trade Insurance to learn more about our Daycare Insurance and School Insurance options.