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Creating a Culture of Safety at Boys Town

December 31st, 2014     By Bob Pick, Vice President of Boys Town Nebraska/Iowa

Saving Children, Troubled Youth

Protecting the children in our care is priority number one.

For any organization that works with children, safety is best ensured when everyone, including employees, volunteers and others who are involved with kids, knows how to prevent, report and respond to situations that could harm or jeopardize the wellbeing of children.

Boys Town has learned through more than 90 years of experience of caring for children and its own research that certain core elements are essential in creating a culture of safety.

Promoting Safe Environments

At Boys Town, specific youth rights are trained to staff members and taught to children. Any suspected violation of a youth right is investigated. The Boys Town ModelSM is a well-defined set of procedures and practices that promote ethical, humane and effective childcare practices. An independent program audit procedure is in place to conduct investigations of any report, suspicion or observation of improper staff conduct.

Protecting Youth

At Boys Town, protecting our youth is key. All youth are screened for possible risk factors. The best care options are identified and staff members advocate for a length of stay they believe will yield optimal benefits. Each child has several options for reporting concerns. The children are regularly reminded of the protections they have. We also like to keep a high level of transparency at Boys Town; children’s families and guardians are welcome to visit them, and most children enjoy home visits.

Preparing Staff

At Boys Town, every employee completes screening interviews and criminal background checks to ensure the hiring of quality employees. All direct-care personnel must successfully complete a two-week criteria-based Preservice Workshop where they learn program skills and how to set appropriate boundaries with the children who will be in their care. All direct-care staff members are closely monitored by trained supervisors through regular meetings, direct observation and other practices. Regular evaluations measure employee performance and progress, and ascertain whether service goals and expectations for youth in care are being met.

The bottom line is every child deserves to be safe. Organizations that work with children must do everything possible to protect the boys and girls for whom they are responsible. They must be proactive to prevent harmful incidents, and they must have clear, effective policies and practices for reporting, responding to and following up when incidents happen. Boys Town is no exception.

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