Youth Activities & Programs

Four smiling children pose for a picture.

 

The Office of Institutional Equity oversees the Youth Activities & Programs policy, which promotes the safety and welfare of youth/minors entrusted to the university’s care.

This policy outlines what is required of university community members who work in activities and programs with youth participants and informs individuals of their reporting obligations in instances of known or suspected child abuse or neglect.

This webpage contains helpful information related to the Youth Activities & Programs policy, including registering a campus activity or program with youth, policy training and additional policy resources. Contact the Director of Youth Protection for more information related to youth protection at Ohio State. 

Information for the University Community

The Youth Activities and Programs policy applies to Ohio State faculty, staff, appointees, students, student employees, graduate associates and volunteers directly working with youth in activities and programs.

To determine if your activity or program is an activity or program with youth, answer the questions below:

Question 1: Is this a youth activity or program?

To be considered youth activity or program, university programs must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Is it operated, conducted or organized by the university?
    • Even if you work within a partnership, is there enough oversight that one might consider this to be OSU-sponsored? If you have control over the staffing, programming, etc, it is likely that you meet this prong.
  2. Does it include youth?
  3. Are parents and guardians not expected to be responsible for the care, custody or control of the youth?
    • Note that guardians would mean legal guardians, so this does not include teachers.  If this is a general event, you likely expect parents and guardians to be responsible for their children or to make appropriate arrangements so general events open to the public do not fall within scope.
    • If you do expect parents and guardians to be present and want to make expectations clear, you can use this policy language in your promotional materials: Ohio State expects parents or guardians to provide supervision over youth on campus unless they are involved in a youth activity or program. Parents or guardians should not leave youth unsupervised on university property.

Action Item: Registration*

If you answered yes to all three criteria, then you fall within scope of the policy and need to register the activity or program. Register the activity/program before the start of the program. This is very high-level information being requested, so timelines do not have to be exact if they are not known.  Program registration is an annual requirement.

*4-H programs register in 4-H Online and do not need to use the link provided here. If you have any questions, please contact your Associate State Leader.

Question 2: Does Ohio State hold “care, custody or control?”

Care, custody or control responsibility is defined as “when an adult(s) is present and has primary responsibility for supervision of a minor at any given point throughout the youth activity or program”

Who is making decisions for the youth, calling home if someone gets hurt, breaking up arguments, etc? If that person is an Ohio State faculty, staff, appointee, student, student employee, graduate associate and/or volunteer, then you need to follow the “care, custody or control requirements” below. If that responsibility falls to someone not affiliated with the university, then you still fall within scope of the policy but will follow the “non-care, custody, control requirements” below.

Please note that it is possible to have a mix of responsibilities within the same program. Supervisors may hold care, custody or control while program staff do not, for example. Also, please note that the policy requires youth to be supervised at all times. It is suggested that more than one person have the care, custody or control responsibility to allow greater flexibility.

Care, custody or control requirements and action steps:

  1. Personnel must obtain a fingerprint background check. In general, this is required every four years. Review the background check resource guide for guidance. Note that this is different from the university’s employment background check.
  2. Complete policy training at Buckeye Learn, which takes about 30 minutes and is good for a year. Click “learning,” “browse trainings,” select “Youth Activities and Programs [applicable year] Policy Training.”
  3. Sign the “Standards of Behavior for Employees/Volunteers” annually.  Note that this includes a general prohibition on one-on-one interactions with youth.

Non-care, custody or control requirements and action steps:

  1. Receive and review Youth Activities and Programs Resources – Policy 1.50 Training
  2. Sign the “Standards of Behavior for Employees/Volunteers” on the back of the training handout.  Note that this includes a general prohibition on one-on-one interactions.

Note:

Administrators of activities and programs with minor participants must also maintain records of staff background checks and training. Templates are available to help you maintain records, including a tracking spreadsheet and a checklist of responsibilities.

Policy Resources

Ohio State community members can use the many resources available for the Youth Activities and Programs policy. The available resources include a guide to the background check process, training instructions, registration information, relevant forms and other helpful tools.

View the full list of policy resources.

Information for Parents and Families

Thank you for giving your youth the opportunity to participate in an Ohio State-sponsored activity or program. Providing youth with high-quality educational programming is core to the university’s land-grant mission.

Ohio State is committed to providing quality programming for youth. In fact, hundreds of thousands of minors enjoy Ohio State-sponsored activities and programs on an annual basis. The university expects parents or guardians to provide supervision over sponsored programs unless they are involved in an OSU sponsored event. Parents or guardians should not leave minors unsupervised on university property.

In order to promote the safety and welfare of youth entrusted to the university’s care, the university implemented the Youth Activities & Programs policy. This policy has multiple components to it, including a background check, training and a signed standards of behavior agreement.

Another key component of the policy is a reporting obligation, which requires those working with minors to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect. Required training for all Ohio State community members on how to recognize signs of abuse and how to report is an important part of the policy.

If you have specific questions or concerns regarding your child’s participation in an Ohio State activity or program, please directly contact the activity or program administrator. If you have questions regarding the policy, or any concerns related to child abuse or neglect, please contact the Director of Youth Protection at youthpolicy@osu.edu or 614.292.1404

Resources

Below are some resources that may assist you in helping to protect your children and strengthen families. These resources are provided for informational purposes and inclusion does not constitute endorsement by the university.

  • Child Welfare Parenting resources: Provides information to connect child welfare and related professional comprehensive resources to help protect children and strengthen families.
  • Talking to children and teens about abuse: Aims to prevent the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed.
  • Child Abuse/Family Violence: Resources for Kids & Teens on Prevention, Disclosure & Healing: Provides an extensive selection of books and resources available for purchase that focus on how to prevent, discuss, and heal from abuse.

 

Contact

Ryan Brownfield
Director of Youth Protection
Office of Institutional Equity
614-292-1404
youthpolicy@osu.edu

University Community Resources