The safety and well-being of children in the care of Ys across the U.S. is, and always will be, our priority.
Serving the youth in our community is a vital part of our mission, and we are committed to creating a safe environment for the thousands of children and teens we serve every year.
As the nation's largest youth-serving organization, our most important work includes ensuring their safety and well-being — it is foundational to everything we do at the Y to help them learn, grow and thrive
A Message from Our CEO
The Gateway Region YMCA's top priority is the safety of the youth in our programs and services. As a parent and grandparent, as well as a YMCA employee for more than 30 years, I understand the importance of delivering upon this promise and the great responsibility involved in doing so. I, along with my team, take this responsibility very seriously.
All of our Y employees undergo stringent background checks and child abuse recognition and prevention safety training upon hire. Our Y association staff team also works regularly with external child protection experts to provide continuous training and education in abuse prevention. We are focused on promoting a culture of safety and living that culture every day.
We believe that child abuse is 100 percent preventable. When it comes to preventing abuse, knowledge is the most powerful tool we have.
It's our responsibility as a Y team to understand the risks and red flags of child abuse and what we can do to respond to abuse when we see it. It's also our responsibility to educate and share this knowledge with the broader community in an effort to help prevent abuse. I hope the information included on this page is a useful resource for you in raising awareness of how we, together, can keep children safe.
Thank you for doing your part to help protect children in our community.
Our Commitment at the Y
At the Y, we take the following actions to help keep kids safe in our facilities and programs:
All Ys in the U.S. are required to implement child sexual abuse prevention practices and policies to remain a member in good standing with the National Council of YMCAs. These requirements include:
- Completing a child abuse prevention self-assessment, administered by a Y-USA–approved vendor, at least every two (2) years
- Having a policy that requires criminal background checks for staff and volunteers
- Providing and requiring training for staff and volunteers on preventing and responding to child abuse
- Requiring staff and volunteers to report child abuse in accordance with applicable laws
- Having a policy that requires screening all adults against a national sex offender registry and written protocol for how to respond when adults are identified as registered sex offenders
- Reporting the following events to Y-USA:
- Allegations and/or criminal charges of child abuse, child sexual exploitation, or child sexual misconduct involving a current or former YMCA staff, volunteer, or member (including incidents related to the YMCA and outside of the YMCA)
- Allegations of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or sexual misconduct between youth participants in attendance at a YMCA and/or enrolled in YMCA activities.
YMCAs have access to resources to assist them in meeting these requirements. Provided by and facilitated by Y-USA, these resources are accessible through our internal knowledge-sharing platform for YMCA staff.
We engage external experts (Praesidium) in abuse prevention to work with all 2,600 Ys across the country and provide access to a comprehensive self-assessment as well as best practices in screening, training, supervision and reporting practices.
We partner with passionate local Y leaders who facilitate peer-to-peer learning and continuously improve and strengthen Y abuse-prevention efforts. Specifically, we work alongside the Guardians for Child Protection, a collective of Y CEOs committed to activating the power of the Y and other youth-serving organizations to engage communities, improve internal operations and advance policy and environmental change to protect children from sexual abuse.
We work closely with strategic partners to advance federal policies that seek to protect children from various forms of abuse and neglect. Whether it’s passing the Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA) into law or increasing funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), our advocacy efforts reflect the Y’s commitment to child safety.