URBANA, Illinois – For university event planners, summer sneaks up on us before we know it.
“Summer is our busiest time for on-campus events and camps that involve children younger than 18,” said Stephanie Vogelsang, the Protection of Minors Compliance Specialist at the Division of Public Safety. “That means we have to start planning right now to make sure we have all the required background checks and emergency plans in place to ensure the safety of our visitors.”
To make sure you’re not scrambling at the last minute to comply with the university’s Protection of Minors policy, here are four things you can start doing right now to make sure everyone is safe during events that have children under 18 years of age participating.
Review the American Camp Association Guidelines.
The American Camp Association has a lot of great resources available on its website, including toolkits, health forms, COVID-19 resources and diversity, equity and inclusion information.
The ACA also sets required ratios for how many staff members your camp needs based on the number and ages of participants.
“The ACA website is a good place to start if you’re building a camp from scratch, or if you are revamping something you did last year,” Vogelsang said. “At the very least, exploring the ACA resources will help you think about some safety-related things that may not have crossed your mind before.”
Verify staff have completed University System Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (ANCRA) Training.
ANCRA training is required for anyone working an on-campus program that includes children under the age of 18. By completing it now, you’ll have one less thing to confirm when you submit your Protection of Minors Plan for review and approval.
“ANCRA training is essential to help your program staff recognize and appropriately response to signs of child abuse or neglect,” Vogelsang said. “It’s a core piece of how we keep kids safe on our campus.”
Think about infectious disease.
In recent years, the campus released COVID-19 related guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease. This year, 2023, marks the return to normal infectious disease guidelines similar to those that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those guidelines will need to be determined by your camp, clinic or event. But it’s important to think about those guidelines in advance and stick to them in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like chicken pox, mumps, influenza, common cold and COVID-19.
Complete or update your Protection of Minors compliance plans.
Under university police, your Protection of Minors compliance plan must be reviewed and approved by the Division of Public Safety before you can launch your camp.
The good news is that it’s generally pretty easy to do as long as you do some advance planning. All the resources you need to start or update your plan are available at on the Protection of Minors webpage, or you can always contact the compliance specialist at email@example.com with questions.
“It sounds complex, but it doesn’t have to be,” Vogelsang said. “We are here to help you, and our ultimate goal is to make sure we are creating the safest environment possible for the kids who come to campus to explore and take part in the wonderful programs and resources here. We’re entrusted with their safety, and that’s a responsibility we take seriously.”