HWS Policy for Programs Involving Minors on Campus
Hobart and William Smith Colleges (the Colleges) intend to maintain a safe environment for all members of their community, including students, faculty, staff, guests, volunteers, and participants in all Colleges’ programs and events. This Policy addresses requirements for program, activity or service oversight, screening of authorized program staff, policies and protocols, supervision of Minors, and training of authorized program staff. The requirements under this Policy must be fully met as a condition to obtaining Colleges’ approval to use Colleges’ resources, such as the Colleges’ name, property, and funding for programs involving Minors. This policy applies to administrators, faculty, staff, volunteers, enrolled students, interns, employees of temporary employment agencies, and independent contractors/consultants who work on campus or in connection with any event, program, activity or project sponsored or offered by the Colleges that involve contact with Minors.
Anyone who suspects that a Minor who is on the Colleges’ property for any reason, or is participating in a Colleges-sponsored activity at another location, has been the victim of child abuse or neglect shall immediately report the suspected abuse or neglect consistent with the Colleges’ Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Policy.
This Policy applies to any program, activity or service involving Minors that occurs on the Colleges’ property and to any HWS sponsored program, activity or service involving Minors, wherever it occurs. This Policy does not apply to general public events in the Colleges’ facilities where parents or guardians are required to attend and appropriately supervise their child. Any Minor visiting the Colleges and not directly participating in a program, activity or service must be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times. Unsupervised minors who are not participating in a program, activity or service may be asked to leave the Colleges’ property by Campus Safety.
For purposes of this Policy, the following definitions will apply:
Minor or Child: A person under the age of eighteen (18) who is not enrolled as a student at the Colleges.
Authorized Program Staff: Colleges’ employees or other individuals, whether paid or unpaid, who come into direct contact with Minors in Colleges-sponsored or on-campus programs, activities or services. These individuals may include, but are not limited to regular and temporary staff and instructional staff (including faculty), students, independent contractors, interns, and volunteers. Authorized Program Staff must complete the required background screening and training described in this Policy.
Authorized Program Administrator: The Colleges’ employee who has administrative oversight for the Colleges-sponsored program, activity or service involving Minors, and is responsible for ensuring that the requirements of this Policy have been met throughout the program, activity, or service’s duration. The Authorized Program Administrator must also complete the required background screening and training described in this Policy.
Colleges’ Facilities: Facilities and property owned by, or under the control of, the Colleges.
Colleges’ Program: Any program, activity, or service offered or sponsored by the Colleges, including the Hobart and/or William Smith Athletic Department, or by non-Colleges groups using Colleges’ Facilities involving contact with Minors. This includes, but is not limited to, youth camps or programs, workshops, sport camps, academic camps, community or social outreach programs, conferences, pre-enrollment visits, and similar activities. This Policy also applies to any Third Party who utilizes the Colleges’ Facilities. Any existing and future contracts with third party organizations that involve Minors and utilize the Colleges’ Facilities must reference and attach copies of this Policy and the Colleges’ Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Policy. Such third party organizations will be required to certify in writing that they have met all requirements in this Policy including, without limitation, conducting the necessary screening and training of their staff. The Colleges’ employee responsible for entering the facilities use agreement on behalf of the Colleges shall ensure that the third party organization provides the appropriate certification of compliance with this Policy.
All programs, activities or services which include the participation of Minors must be approved by a senior official of the Colleges prior to the start of the program, activity or service. The Office of Human Resources and/or the Colleges’ Counsel is available to assist in determining how this Policy applies to the program, activity or service.
Direct Contact: The care, supervision, guidance or control of Minors and/or regular contact interaction with Minors.
Regular Contact: Regular and repeated contact that is integral to a person’s employment or volunteer responsibilities.
One-on-One Contact: Unsupervised interaction between any Authorized Program Staff member and a Minor participant without at least one other Authorized Program Staff member, parent, or legal guardian being present. Also, Authorized Program Staff shall not have direct electronic contact with a Minor participant without another Authorized Program Staff member, parent, or legal guardian being included in the message.
Colleges’ programs, activities and services involving Minors must have administrative oversight through an appropriate Colleges’ employee who will act as the Authorized Program Administrator that has completed required screening and training. The Authorized Program Administrator is responsible for ensuring that this Policy is followed throughout the program, activity or service’s duration.
Anyone who will provide care, control or supervision of Minors, or have regular contact with Minors in the program must become an Authorized Program Staff member, which means they have completed the required screening and training described in this Policy.
Programs, activities and services involving Minors that are led by Colleges’ students and that occur on Colleges’ property or that are Colleges-sponsored programs must have administrative oversight by an Authorized Program Administrator and must adhere to these and other relevant Colleges’ Policies.
Authorized representatives of outside programs that use Colleges’ property as the location of their programs involving Minors must comply with this Policy and will be required to provide assurance of compliance to the Colleges as described in this Policy through an Outside Use Agreement. These outside program representatives are responsible for the administrative oversight of their programs.
Authorized Program Staff and Administrators shall complete annual mandatory training on the conduct requirements of this Policy, on identifying and protecting participants from abusive emotional and physical treatment, and on appropriate or required reporting of incidents of improper conduct to the proper authorities prior to the start date of participation in any such employment, position, role, program or activity.
Training records must be maintained for a period of six years.
In the case of programs that are run by third party organizations, the Colleges’ employee responsible for entering the facilities use agreement on behalf of the Colleges must obtain the appropriate certification of compliance with this Policy.
Independent contractors and authorized outside program representatives must provide assurance that they have complied with training comparable under this Policy. The Colleges reserve the right to conduct an audit of any documentation of compliance, including background screening and training records of independent contractors or outside program staff.
Authorized Program Staff and Administrators must complete appropriate criminal and child abuse screening before working, participating in, or providing oversight for any program, activity or service.
For all current or prospective employees and volunteers, whether temporary or permanent and regardless of titles or responsibilities, the Colleges will conduct a search of (1) The New York State Sex Offender Registry; and (2) The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Registry, and annually thereafter.
In addition, the following categories of individuals will be required to clear a criminal background check and a Department of Motor Vehicles license check prior to participation any program, activity, or service involving Minors: (a) Authorized Program Administrators and others who direct or supervise programs involving Minors; (b) those who stay overnight on campus as part of their responsibilities in a program involving Minors; and (c) those that spend regular or substantial time alone with Minors as part of their job responsibilities or role in a Minors program.
A prior conviction shall not automatically disqualify a person from participating in a program or activity. Rather, if a criminal background check reveals adverse information or unfavorable results, the Colleges will conduct an individualized assessment using criteria designed to identify potential risk to Minors, including, but not limited to: the bearing, if any, of the finding(s) on the person’s fitness or ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of the position at issue; the seriousness of the finding(s); the time elapsed since the finding(s); the age of the applicant at the time of the finding(s); information regarding rehabilitation and good conduct produced by or on behalf of the person; and the Colleges’ legitimate interest in protecting property and safety of individuals or the general public.
Human Resources will oversee the processing of criminal background checks. The cost of the background check will be borne by the department, activity, or program responsible for the program involving Minors. For Colleges-sponsored or affiliated programs or activities, only a background check conducted by the Colleges or an external source approved by the Colleges will be accepted for purposes of this Policy.
Except where required by law, criminal background checks of Colleges’ faculty, staff and students that are conducted pursuant to this Policy will be used only for purposes consistent with this Policy and will otherwise be kept confidential. Records of background checks will be maintained separately from an individual’s personnel or student file.
Background screenings remain valid for three years and then must be renewed. Screening records must be maintained for six years. Anyone required to have a background check under this Policy must disclose, in writing, within 72 hours any misdemeanor or felony convictions after the date of their most recent background check.
Finally, the Colleges require applicants for employment or volunteer positions to provide three references: at least one professional and at least one personal (the third reference can be either professional or personal). The Colleges will complete the reference check before the employee or volunteer will be permitted to work with Minors.
All outside vendors or organizations that use Colleges’ property must also adhere to this Policy, including Sex Offender Registry checks and, in addition, performance of criminal background checks on all individuals who work with Minors on the campus. Specifically, at least fourteen (14) days prior to the scheduled use of Colleges’ Facilities or presence at the Colleges, the vendor, organizer, manager, and/or operator must (a) provide satisfactory evidence of their own policies and procedures on criminal background checks, Sex Offender Registry checks, and protection of Minors/child abuse reporting obligations, including training of their staff and volunteers on same or (b) sign an agreement acknowledging and certifying training on and compliance with this Policy.
Program Policies, Protocols, and Documentation
While the Authorized Program Administrator may adopt more procedures to oversee the program, at a minimum, the Authorized Program Administrator is responsible for complying with the following:
Prior to participation, parents must complete a parent permission and a hold harmless, informed consent form as a condition of the Minor’s participation. As applicable, parents must also complete:
- Photo Release
- Trip Permission Form
If a parent is not present during the activity, the Authorized Program Administrator must require both:
1. Prior written parental authorization of individuals authorized to pick up the Minor and
2. ID checking by Authorized Program Staff before release of the Minor from the activity to ensure release is only to authorized individuals.
Parents and guardians must provide written disclosure of any medical conditions that might affect the Minor’s participation in the program, activity or service. Also, written notification must be given to parents that no medication will be given to the Minor and that health care is not available to the Minor on the premises. In the event of an emergency, 911 and emergency contacts will be called to respond.
Written notification must be given to parents as to how they may contact the Minor while the program, activity or service is in session.
A crisis and emergency protocol must be developed for the effective response to emergencies, which must include notifying HWS Campus Safety and obtaining emergency contact information for the Minor.
General Guidelines for Appropriate Behavior and Boundaries with Minors
The Colleges will establish specific rules and requirements related to the conduct of Authorized Program Staff and Administrators interacting with Minors in Colleges’ Programs. In general, all Authorized Program Staff and Administrators must comply with the following guidelines while interacting with Minors in Colleges’ Programs or Facilities:
- Minors must be supervised at all times by an Authorized Program Staff member while on-campus or participating in a Colleges-sponsored off-campus activity. Do not leave any Minor in the care of a person who is not an Authorized Program Staff Member or in an area that is unsafe.
- The ratio of program staff to program participants should meet the following minimums:
- For residential programs
- One program staff member for every five participants ages 4 and 5
- One program staff member for every six participants ages 6 to 8
- One program staff member for every eight participants ages 9 to 14
- One program staff member for every ten participants ages 15 to 17
- For day programs
- One program staff member for every six participants ages 4 and 5
- One program staff member for every eight participants ages 6 to 8
- One program staff member for every ten participants ages 9 to 14
- One program staff member for every twelve participants ages 15 to 17
- Authorized Program Staff Members must notify an Authorized Program Administrator before moving a Minor out of the program area or to a different location on or off campus.
- Authorized Program Staff members shall not have one-on-one contact with Minors. At least two trained program staff must accompany a Minor while participating in the program activities.
- This includes trips in Colleges’ vehicles or walks through the campus. Such trips must include either more than one adult, or more than one child.
- This rule does not preclude you from taking a Minor aside for a brief confidential discussion about his/her behavior or some matter that he/she has asked to discuss with you. However, such a meeting should ideally take place in full view of other people, even if from a distance or in the presence of a second adult.
- This rule does not apply to licensed psychologists providing psychological and counseling services to Minors.
- This rule does not apply to enrolled students hosting high school students overnight in residence halls.
- This rule does not apply when there are high school students, including prospective athletes, participating in pre-enrollment overnight visitation through Admissions or Athletics with a Colleges’ student host who has qualified as an Authorized Program Staff member under this Policy.
- Keep the door open when tutoring a Minor, providing a private lesson or providing academic guidance.
- Use good judgment about bathroom trips. Do not go into the stall with a Minor.
- It is best to bring more than one Minor at a time to the bathroom, but if that is not possible, maintain an appropriate distance from the stall.
- During the academic year, no program activities with Minors are to occur in the residence halls of the Colleges, except when a Minor is hosted by an Admissions or Athletics student host for a recruitment visit, or other such purpose that has specifically been approved by the Vice President of Campus Life or the Provost. At all other times, program activities within residence halls are limited to registered and approved residential programs or camps.
- Do not strike, hit, administer corporal punishment to, or touch in an appropriate or illegal manner any Minor. Do not engage in abusive conduct of any kind toward, or in the presence of, a Minor.
- Use good judgment about physical closeness. Avoid contact that may be misinterpreted.
- This does not mean that you cannot give a Minor a pat on the back or touch an arm to get his/her attention. However, you should not touch a Minor against his or her will or engage in highly physical contact, such as picking him/her up, giving him/her back rubs, tickling or roughhousing.
- Do not make pornography in any form available to Minors participating in programs, activities and services covered by this Policy or assist them in gaining access to pornography.
- Do not have any direct electronic contact with Minors without including another adult in the communication.
- Use good judgment about verbal or electronic communications with or about Minors.
- Do not use vulgar language or engage in sexual talk.
- Do not disclose confidential information, or disclose or respond to questions involving relationships or sexual orientation.
- Use discretion and consider the age of the Minor when discussing personal issues.
- Do not take pictures of Minors for personal use. If you have or are provided with pictures of Minors in your charge, do not distribute them on social networking sites.
- Do not “friend” Minors or approach them on social networks.
- Use words with care. Never berate, intimidate, harass or belittle a Minor.
- Giving praise is appropriate but use discretion when complimenting Minors. Do not get too personal.
- Be constantly aware of your responsibilities and position as a role model.
- If you are supervising Minors overnight, do not enter a Minor’s room, bathroom facility or similar area without another adult in attendance.
- This rule does not apply to enrolled students hosting high school students overnight in residence halls.
- Do not pick up or drop off Minors at their homes unless authorized in writing by the Minor’s parent or legal guardian.
- Do not provide tobacco products, alcohol or illegal drugs to any Minor.
- Do not provide prescription drugs or any medication to a Minor unless specifically authorized in writing by the parent or legal guardian as being required for the Minor’s care or the Minor’s emergency treatment.
- If you are ever unsure about what is appropriate, seek advice from a supervisor or director.
Student admission tour guides will be closely supervised and evaluated by admission officers to ensure total adherence to the standards set forth in this policy.
Exceptions to This Policy
Any exceptions to the application of this Policy must be approved by the Associate Vice President for Human Resources.
Violations of This Policy
Violations of this Policy will be taken seriously. Discipline for a violation of this Policy will be determined by the Colleges in their sole discretion and include, but are not limited to, suspension, dismissal, termination, removal and exclusion from campus, and termination of contracts, programs, and events. The Colleges may also take any interim action they deem necessary before making a final determination regarding whether a violation has occurred.
If you have questions and requests for assistance regarding this Policy, please contact the Human Resources Office and/or the Colleges’ Counsel.
Additional information about preventing child abuse and neglect can be found at the New York State Office of Children and Family Services website.