Q&A with Protection of Minors specialist Stephanie Vogelsang

Stephanie Vogelsang took on a new role this summer as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Protection of Minors Compliance Specialist. That’s a big job, and it’s the first time the Illinois campus has had a dedicated staff member in that role.

The university’s Protection of Minors policy and implementation procedures are designed to ensure that people under the age of 18 are safe when they come to campus for planned events, programs and activities. Anyone involved in a campus program which caters to minors is required to undergo a background check, and other plans must be made to ensure the safety of young participants.

We asked Stephanie a few questions about what that means for our campus and why it is important to make sure campus units are following required Protection of Minors implementation policies when they are holding events involving people under the age of 18.

What is the university protection of minors program, and why is it important?

The university protection of minors program is a policy and program that protects minors engaged in programs, camps and events on our campus. It is important because we have a responsibility to protect minors when they are on our campus for various reasons, whether it’s a camp, field trip or swim team lessons.

What interested you in this position?

My husband and I have a child, and one on the way. Knowing that they will be taken care of while not in our primary care means a lot to us, and the same with other parents. Parents and guardians want to know that when they drop their child off on our campus, someone is watching out for them. I think I can make a difference with my ideas of where I would like this program to go and build from there. I have been with the university police department for almost ten years, and I felt that this where I could leave my mark and make a difference. My background with the department was previously with emergency management, and I felt that I could use that background and knowledge to make the protection of minors program even better and safety for our minors.

What is the significance of having a person now dedicated to protection of minors?

Previously, our Clery Compliance Coordinator was handling both Clery and protection of minors. Each position holds a great deal of responsibility as it relates to the safety and wellbeing of faculty, staff, students and minors on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Now, having a dedicated individual with the responsibility of the minors on campus, we are able to have someone dedicate all of their attention to the needs of those minors. We can also review and verify appropriate departments or colleges are taking the proper actions about programs and events. The program is more than just a form. There are compliance checklists we need people to follow, background checks need preformed and faculty/staff need to be educated on how to handle certain situations that may involve minors. Many colleges and universities around the United States have started to or are in the process of having a dedicated office or individual responsible for Protection of Minors and Youth Protection.

What is your advice for people who are planning summer programs/camps/events?

If you have any questions, please contact me and we can discuss if your program or camp or event requires a Protection of Minors form, or you can review the Protection of Minors policy on our website. Not all programs or events require a form to be completed which the policy explains, but if you would like to go ahead and complete a form when it is not required, we will not turn away the information.

We have two types of forms available. There is short form that is for outside organizations or Registered Student Organizations and the University form that is for campus units.

What changes, if any, do you foresee for the program?

The major change that people will foresee with the program is site visits. After speaking with other programs at our Big Ten partners, they advised me of the benefits of doing site visits. The Protection of Minors program will verify that compliance checklists are being followed per the information provided, emergency contacts are on site, adult to minor ratios are within acceptable numbers, among other information.

For more information about protection of minors, visit that section on the University Police Department’s website, or contact Stephanie Vogelsang at 217-300-1533 or srvogel@illinois.edu.