The Annual Family Safety Survey
For organizations serving children and youth, “safety never takes a holiday”. That’s why we suggest an annual family, child, and youth safety evaluation or survey. By connecting with families regarding safety, you’ll quickly identify what’s working and areas of opportunity for safety improvements.
It’s best to keep the safety survey short, no more than 5-10 minutes, and include a section for children to share their feedback, observations, and experiences. The survey’s goals are to gain input, open communication lines with families, and establish action steps for moving forward. The survey is also a good check and balance to learn if your organization adheres to an established Child Protection Policy (CPP).
The most important question for families to address is, “How safe do you feel your child/youth is within our program?” Choose a format that best works for you. Most common is the sliding scale, such as 1-5, with one being the least and five being the highest. The sliding scale will provide insight into a family’s overall perception of safety. Here are a few good topics for input:
- Covid-19 Compliance and Prevention
- Check-In and Check-Out
- Workers – Staff and Volunteers
- Bathrooms and Hallways
- Outside Area
- Classroom Area and Ratios
- Events and Programs
At the end of the survey, be sure to include an area for a few open-ended questions where you’re asking families why they gave the ratings they did. Written comments help put context to the ratings and allow families to share both positive and negative comments.
Here are a few suggestions for open-ended questions about current safety and protection.
- What do you consider our greatest strength as it relates to child and youth safety? Please share where we can improve?
- What do you consider our most significant challenge or area of opportunity for improvement in child and youth safety?
- How can staff, leaders, and volunteers improve the protection of children and youth?
- Would you interested in attending, or have you attended any of our child safety training over the last year?
- Would you like us to reach out to you directly to discuss the answers you have provided in more detail?
Children and Youth Evaluation
Children and youth are excellent sources of information, and one of the best ways to learn about their experience is to ask for their feedback. Including a section for children or youth to share their thoughts will promote an environment of open communication, transparency, and trust and helps them feel they are a part of improving safety.
The child and youth part of the survey is parent-directed if needed. It contains questions parents can read to younger children and capture their feedback or allow those who can independently read and write on their own to answer. Older children may request privacy in filling it out and prefer to submit it on their own. Whatever the case, it’s a helpful tool to continue discussing personal space and body safety with children.
These questions are for children under the age of 12 and ask about their attendance of a daily or weekly program, one-time event, or an offsite gathering. Additional questions for youth can be derived from these questions and focus more on youth leadership, mentoring programs, and offsite activities.
- When you attend our program, event, or gathering, do you feel safe? If no, please explain why?
- Do you feel your teachers, aides, and volunteers do a good job of working to protect you? Yes or no? Why or why not?
- Do you ever feel left out of activities in your classroom? Yes or no? If yes, please share more detail.
- In our program, are you ever teased or bullied? If yes, please share more detail.
- Have you ever felt unsafe or afraid of being hurt? If yes, please share more detail.
- Are there any places in the building that you feel unsafe?
- Is there anything we do or provide to make you feel safer?
Lastly, leave space for parents to provide any comments and feedback. Make it optional to share their name and ensure them that their answers are anonymous.
Safety Is the Goal
By implementing an annual child safety survey, you are giving families a chance to be heard. Their input goes a long way in building trust, promoting positive word of mouth, and giving families peace of mind about where their kids and youth are spending time.
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