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Boys & Girls Clubs Safety Independent Review of Child Safety Programs and Protocols

As part of Boys & Girls Clubs’ ongoing safety initiatives, the organization undertook a comprehensive third-party independent review of its sexual abuse prevention policies and procedures.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s number one priority is to protect the children we serve. For decades, Boys & Girls Clubs have continued to update and innovate our safety protocols and programs. We will not rest until we’ve done everything we can do to keep the youth that visit our Clubs safe.

Boys & Girls Clubs have many current safety requirements including annual background checks, required immediate reporting of any allegation of abuse regardless of severity, to the appropriate authorities and then to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, local Board led Safety Committees, required safety policies and training, mandatory annual safety assessments, required references for any employee changing Club locations, engagement with third party safety experts and much more.

In summer of 2020, local Boys & Girls Clubs voted to adopt additional safety measures, to improve safety within our Clubs. Many of these practices were already in place, however Boys & Girls Clubs determined these practices should be mandatory for all Clubs:

  • Strengthening the reference check requirement to clarify that all Clubs obtain rehire eligibility information for all prospective staff or volunteers that previously worked at another Club before being allowed to be employed or volunteer at another Club;
  • Enhancing our existing requirements around “barrier crimes” that prohibit job candidates from working or volunteering at a Club;
  • Requiring Clubs to report failures in licensing inspection within 24-hours to the national organization;
  • Standardizing of all Clubs’ Safety Committees to ensure that each and every one is being held accountable to the same metrics and responsibilities;
  • Formalizing the requirement that each Club prominently display key safety resources; information, including the Child Safety Helpline and Crisis Text Line; and
  • Requiring that Clubs inform parents and guardians of safety policies when they receive a youth membership application.

To further this work, Boys & Girls Clubs of America hired Alston & Bird to facilitate a third-party independent review of our policies and practices to ensure Boys & Girls Clubs are continually doing everything we can to keep young people safe. Alston & Bird hired RAINN, the largest organization in the nation dedicated to abuse prevention, awareness, and response to conduct the review. RAINN’s review took place over an eight month period and evaluated policies, procedures, practices, and implementation by local Clubs. This work builds on the already underway efforts Boys & Girls Clubs are taking to strengthen culture and safety protocols. RAINN examined Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national office safety protocols, materials and resources and conducted hours of interviews with key national safety staff.

RAINN also selected and visited 20 Clubs across the country, where they spoke with staff and reviewed how national policies are implemented at the local Club level. The 20 Clubs chosen reflected a sample of different types of Clubs within the organization.

Boys & Girls Clubs have many current safety requirements. Based on RAINN’s review and recommendations, we plan to take additional steps to strengthen culture and enhance safety at Clubs, some of which were already part of our plans. Recommendations we will implement beginning now and throughout the next three years include:

  1. Further enhance our sexual abuse prevention policies, practices, and trainings with a more comprehensive approach to be more responsive to individuals’ needs and well-being - a best practice in healthcare and school-based settings.
  2. Hire additional BGCA safety staff to focus solely on this strategy, to develop and implement best practices throughout the Boys & Girls Club network.
  3. Make training more accessible and comprehensive for local Club staff and executives on intranet and resource sites, while increasing the amount of in-person and virtual trainings. Provide accessible and modular trainings for all staff to implement, including by role.
  4. Increase and update current BGCA program training for youth and families focused on social-emotional development skills, with concepts like respect, consent, boundaries and healthy relationships.
  5. Upgrade our incident reporting system to enhance reporting, response and fact finding. Enhance BGCA’s ability to increase resources needed locally in the event of an incident (such as counseling and additional support from local authorities).
  6. Provide more public facing resources for staff, families and youth on Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s main website

A copy of the review’s findings can be found here.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to continuously strengthening our safety culture and building on our long-standing history of being a safe place for young people to learn, grow and thrive. We want every Club member to feel safe, empowered and heard.

If you have questions regarding the review or BGCA’s safety policies, please contact us for more information.

“For decades, BGCA has been leading youth-serving organizations in child safety practices and has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to continuing enhancement of policies and practices in this area. BGCA has an extensive organizational network that analyzes, develops, trains and responds to the complex issues that Clubs face. BGCA has made significant strides in their sexual misconduct prevention and response programming and it continues to roll out new initiatives to protect their community and keep their members safe.”
- RAINN, the largest organization dedicated to abuse prevention, awareness, and response.

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