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IU updates policy guiding children's safety for university-sponsored programs

Apr. 24, 2014

IU has updated its comprehensive Programs Involving Children policy to include training and informational resources created by top experts with IU School of Medicine, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and Indiana Department of Child Services.

The updated services also include information about IU’s new vendor for required background checks. New consent forms for the checks in addition to FAQs about the policy, links to training modules, sample rules and procedures that programs can adopt, and other useful resources can be found at a new information website for the policy, which is administered by Jerry Minger, director of university public safety.

"The support and assistance we have received in establishing proper reporting procedures to follow concerning DCS has been invaluable," Minger said. "We certainly are grateful to be able to draw on the resources of DCS, Riley at IU Health and the IU School of Medicine to provide these training modules, best practices and other information."

"The IU Child Protection Programs are thrilled to work with all of IU and DCS to disseminate information to help us better protect and care for our children," said Roberta Hibbard, M.D., professor of pediatrics and director of the section of Child Protection Programs at Riley at IU Health. "This is a great opportunity to get information into the hands of those who work with children.”

Like many universities across the country, IU reviewed its procedures and practices concerning the safety and protection of children participating in university-sponsored programs, establishing a formal policy in 2012. Providing accurate information and procedures about reporting suspected abuse and neglect has always been the foremost goal of the recent IU policy, and officials hope the new training information will help even more.

"DCS' mission is to protect children from abuse and neglect," said LaTrece Thompson, deputy director of staff development at the Indiana Department of Child Services. "One way we do this is by partnering with respected organizations and institutions like Riley at IU Health and the IU School of Medicine to educate and train our communities to recognize and report abuse and neglect.

"Riley at IU Health is a national leader in children’s health and a long-standing DCS partner. Riley at IU Health and the IU School of Medicine actively participate in DCS initiatives, such as these trainings, to protect Hoosier children."

Staff members from public safety, policy administration and the general counsel’s office have traveled to every campus over the past two years consulting with employees involved in a large number of IU programs as the new policy became established.

John Applegate, IU executive vice president for university academic affairs, said he is pleased with the cooperation the Programs Involving Children policy has received.

"I appreciate the work of the many IU units involved in putting the policy into action," he said. "The policy has had broad impact and has improved awareness of the number and range of IU programs that serve children across the state."

Nearly 900 programs involving children on seven campuses have been registered with the Office of Public Safety since the policy was established in 2012. These programs serve thousands of children across the state; officials say that just having that information is a result of better tracking.

The Programs Involving Children policy affects programs sponsored by all Indiana University units as well as programs run by external organizations using IU facilities. They include any ongoing or planned programs and events that are designed to include children, such as camps, lessons, workshops, clubs, teams, practices, tours and open houses.

Key elements of the policy include:

  • All faculty and academic employees, staff, students and volunteers will comply with Indiana law, which requires anyone who suspects an incident of child abuse or neglect to contact the state Child Protective Services department or local law enforcement, who then notify CPS. The suspected abuse or neglect must also be reported to the IU director of public safety.
  • Background checks including criminal history and sex offender registry checks are required at least every five years for faculty, staff, students, volunteers and other personnel who work with children.
  • IU units must maintain up-to-date lists of all programs they sponsor that involve children, including locations and contact information. Programs involving children will register their information with the university director of public safety using an online form.
  • Programs that involve children must have rules and procedures addressing aspects of child safety, such as transportation, weather emergencies, supervision and training. Programs that involve overnight stays or use of university residences by children must have additional policies in place to ensure safety. The required rules and procedures depend specifically on the type of program.

Regularly scheduled IU classes or activities designed primarily for enrolled IU students 17 and older are not covered by this policy. However, the state law that requires reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect applies to anyone younger than 18, whether a student or not.

Violations of the IU policy may result in sanctions, including the cancellation of programs and disciplinary actions for individuals. Suspected violations of law will be referred to law enforcement and may result in prosecution.

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