Ensuring child safety is fundamental to the mission of West End House
COVID – 19 UPDATE
With concerns increasing across the state for potential exposure to the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), we wanted to take a minute to assure you that the health and safety for children and adults at the West End House is of the utmost importance to all of us. We are continuously monitoring the directives of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission. In addition, we are taking extra precautions here at the West End House to keep everyone safe.
What steps are the West End House taking?
- Cleaning and Disinfecting: The club is cleaned each night, including floors, surfaces, bathrooms, walls, glass, kitchens, bathrooms, tables, locker rooms, etc. Special attention is given to disinfecting railings and doorknobs, games, Legos, computers, musical instruments and other frequently handled areas and items. Staff are following CDC guidelines.
- Encouraging frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing: Young people are encouraged to wash their hands frequently while at the club (We tell them to wash for 20 seconds or to sing Happy Birthday 2 x). When youth arrive for the day, they are given hand sanitizer at the front desk. Hand sanitizer is also located at several other locations throughout the building.
- No more high fives! Previously, staff would greet kids with a high five when they came in each day. Now, you will see us giving elbow bumps, air high fives, or toe taps.
- Encouraging kids to cough in their elbow or a tissue: Kids cough a lot! We are teaching best practices to contain germs, including sneezing in your elbow or into a tissue and then washing your hands.
How can you help?
Please help us to keep our community safe and healthy. If your child has flu-like symptoms such as a fever, please do not send them to school or to the club. As an added precaution, please consider keeping your child at home if you, personally, have any of these symptoms.
The Safety and Well-being of Young People is Our Number One Priority
We work every day to create a safe, fun environment so kids can have every opportunity to be successful in life. We have ZERO tolerance for inappropriate behavior of any kind, including child sexual abuse or misconduct, and we put resources behind that stance.
Culture of Safety: West End House continually updates robust safety policies, programs and training for our staff and volunteers that are designed to promote child safety and protect young people from threats that are present in our society. We implement layers of safety policies and guidelines to keep our kids safe.
Safety Policies: West End House has comprehensive safety policies in place that protect youth – including, but not limited to, supervision, transportation, communication and prohibiting private one-on-one contact.
Mandatory Background Checks: Mandatory criminal background checks are required every year for each staff at West End House. In addition, criminal background checks are required for any volunteer who has direct contact with children. All potential employees and volunteers are also run through the ICORI and First Advantage.
Required Immediate Reporting: West End House staff and volunteers are all mandated reporters. We 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 complete a safety assessment each year to ensure we continually make improvements to safety at our Club.
Safety Trainings: Ongoing training and supervision of staff is critical. We participate in a wide variety of child safety training conducted at seminars, conferences, webinars and staff trainings weeks that occur bi-annually.
Mandatory Employee Reference: Any employee interested in moving to another Boys & Girls Club is required to have a reference from the 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 works 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, comprised of local Club leaders charged with providing input on the 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, West End House partners with Boston Police Department, Department of Public Health, and The Medical Foundation.
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, West End House members and staff have access to a confidential 24-hour toll-free Child Safety Hotline, 866-607-SAFE (7233) or email SafeClub@Praesidiuminc.com.
Nationally, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has advocated the passage of the U.S. PROTECT Act, which improved 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 contribute to the development of safety practices that benefit ALL youth-serving organizations.
Our 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 West End House. If you have any questions concerning our policies, training, and screening practices, please contact our CEO, Andrea Howard at 617-783-7105.