Take a minute to read the following scenarios. How confident are you that your staff will know what to do if this happened at your organization?
If you answered "very confident" to the above scenarios, congratulations! Your program likely has clearly written policies that staff can understand and follow when these common situations arise.
If you answered “not sure”, then this website is for you. No matter what your program content is, if you work with young people, these issues will come up. Substance use, boundaries between staff and youth on social networking sites, and sexuality are just a few of the issues to which youth programs must be prepared to respond. Clear policies around the issues of mental health, sexual health, substance use, healthy relationships, and sexual violence can help you prepare for situations like these. A supported environment for staff, less risk of liability for the organization, peace of mind, and most importantly, healthier youth are some of the reasons to undertake the daunting task of policy work.
Sure, having clear policies in place makes a lot of sense, but the teens are getting here in 15 minutes, one of my staffers called out sick, and we were just told that the gym isn't available until 4pm- can you just tell me what my policy should be? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all for this work. A good policy needs be as unique as your program. It has to be in-line with your mission and core values in order to be effective.
Sometimes writing policies can feel like you are trying to predict the future. We aren’t fortune tellers, but we hope that these tools can help you see how to get to a better tomorrow.