Youth Programs 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.


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.