Safety and security are primary concerns for the families with children in fitness or activity centers, camps and childcare facilities. Understanding the established ratios for adults and children and maintaining adequate staffing goes a long way towards providing a safe environment. The two-adult rule, often referred to as the Rule of Two, is critical to implement and is the preferred standard for abuse prevention.

In general, the two-adult rule simply states that no fewer than two adults and two children must be present at all times. This includes during the normal course of business, a special event, both on or off site, and during combined age group classes.

The main purpose of the two-adult rule is to increase accountability and decrease isolation. There are many benefits to having two sets of adult eyes on any given situation with a child, including:

  • Significantly reduces the risk of an incident of abuse
    • A predator won’t hang around if they know they are in sight of another adult
  • Protects against false accusations
  • Reduces liability and a possible claim of negligence
  • Offers additional help if there is an accident or emergency

Sometimes it’s challenging in all scenarios to adhere to the two-adult rule with the available staff on hand. For example, coordinating bathroom visits can sometimes be tricky, rooms get busier than planned, or a child is in need of one-on-one attention. In those cases, here are some suggestions.

  • First, make sure you’re aware of and abide by your facility’s unique policies and procedures
    • For example, some centers might require parents take their child to the bathroom before dropping them off. Others may allow bathroom breaks but require the parent come to the childcare area to take them. Some facilities allow caregivers to take children to the restrooms.
  • Make sure to clearly post your bathroom policy both in your check-in area as well as on the associated website
  • Sometimes a child will need one-on-one direction, due to disciplinary issues, tears or other reasons
    • The conversation can still be private with one adult addressing the child individually, however it needs to take place in plain sight of the other staff members
  • During busier times, ask the operations manager to assign another qualified (and background checked) employee to assist temporarily in the childcare area
  • Make sure the activities in the room are always visible
    • Leave doors open if there’s no window to easily see into the room
    • Install doors with glass windows or have glass windows put into the door if they’re solid

Whether your organization is small or large, implementing and consistently using the Rule of Two is an important step in making child safety a top priority. It protects everyone involved.