KidCheck Secure Childrens Check-In SharesEleven Ways to Create a Safe Environment

For families, keeping their kids safe is always top of mind. They want to know how you intend to protect and ensure safety while their children are in your care.

Child safety encompasses more than strict adherence to policy and procedures. It also involves creating an environment that prioritizes communication and transparency, where kids feel safe and included.

Kids need to be educated or safety-informed on how to protect themselves, where to seek help and speak up if an incident occurs. However, as a leader serving children, you must do your part to secure your organization and create an environment that helps children feel safe.

Here are eleven tips for creating a safe and inclusive environment.

1. Create a Supportive Atmosphere

Start your time by consistently gathering together. This will help you assess the children, set the tone for yourself and your students, create trust, promote collaboration, and help kids feel important. It’s a great time to welcome new visitors and help them join in new activities.

2. Respect Differences

Families are unique and come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, so providing them with a sense of belonging is important. Offer books, learning materials, projects, or posters that include diversity or highlight information about underrepresented cultures. For kids and families who may not always feel welcome, these small acts of inclusion help everyone.

3. Allow for Personal Space

To feel safe, some children need space. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to participate. They may be more introverted, shy, or unsure. It’s hard to know the environments kids come from, and time in your care may be the respite they need.

4. Smile – A Lot

Smiling, it’s a simple act we rarely think about in the day-to-day hustle. Yet, it’s powerful, sends a message, helps improve our health, positively affects those around you, generates warmth, and encourages others to engage. It’s been estimated that children smile as much as 400 times a day, making it their superpower.

5. Incorporate Music

There are so many benefits that music provides to a children’s program or classroom. Strategically incorporating it into your routine will help reduce anxiety, and stress, create a good first impression, and improve focus.

6. Build Trust

Trust is an essential building block for strong, long-term engagement with families and is the key to developing a loyal community. Building trust can be done by being honest, communicating effectively, offering helpful guidance, and showing that you care. Families value when someone they depend on is transparent, reliable, and welcomes constructive criticism.

7. Ask for Feedback

Gaining feedback is a vital part of building trust and engaging families. Leverage technology when asking for input, and don’t miss the opportunity to capture how families feel about issues, services, or day-to-day processes. An annual family survey gives families a chance to be heard and you the opportunity to understand what is working and what’s not.

8. Establish a Check-In & Out Process

Children’s check-in is about much more than attendance tracking. It is often referred to as the front door to your organization and has a huge impact on a new family’s decision to return. Whether using pen & paper or an electronic solution, secure children’s check-in will help strengthen child safety, increase data accessibility, and connect you with families.

9. Communicate Often

Clear, consistent communication can be transformative for an organization both in the short- and long-term. However, developing better communication skills can be difficult when your to-do list constantly grows. As a leader, focus on sending or scheduling brief and concise updates that draw your audience’s attention, highlight action, ask for involvement, or call out a specific safety policy. Receiving communication via email, text, or through social media that is quick and easy to read can make an impact.

10. Commit to Screening Candidates

You can work hard to include the other tips and offer a supportive and inclusive environment, but if you are unaware of whom you give direct access to kids, you will undoubtedly encounter an unfortunate incident. The value of screening candidates for kids and youth has grown significantly. Screening prevents bad behavior, provides higher quality volunteers, and protects families, staff, and the organization.

11. No Bully Zone

Bullying comes in many forms: physical, cultural, verbal, emotional, sexual, and cyberbullying. Nationwide 20% of kids ages 12-18 experience some type of bullying. Regardless of socioeconomic factors or whether kids attend a public or private school, ministry, camp, sports, daycare, or an after-school program, bullying happens with effects that can last a lifetime. By having a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, you will foster an environment that encourages transparency, prioritizes communication, and empowers kids to respect and support each other.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash