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AYSO Safe Haven Policies for Child and Volunteer Protection

AYSO Safe Haven Policies for Child and Volunteer Protection

Administration

The Region is committed to the protection of all its children from abuse and neglect while participating in the program and it promotes the awareness and prevention of child abuse in the community at large.

The Region shall have at least one Child and Volunteer Protection Advocate (CVPA), who shall be responsible for overseeing the AYSO Safe Haven child and volunteer protection program in accordance with AYSO guidelines. He or she shall be a member of the Regional Board and will act as the main resource on child protection issues and shall be the Region’s liaison with the National Safe Haven Administrator at the AYSO National Office.

A volunteer application form must be submitted each year. It is easiest and most secure if the volunteer supplies or updates his/her information online through AYSO’s registration System of Record. The online form can be electronically signed, printed and submitted to the Region for reference checks and confirmation of photo identification. The volunteer application form is extremely important because it authorizes AYSO to perform applicant screening. Volunteers should know that they are subject to background screening. Criminal background checks are performed at the National Office by the Safe Haven department.

The Region shall have the right to deny the participation of any individual who refuses to fill out the volunteer application form completely or disagrees with any of the agreements required on the application, who lies or knowingly misrepresents information on the application form, or who violates the principles of these child protection policies. AYSO shall have the right to revoke both the registration and certification of any volunteer who falsifies information, is found guilty of child abuse, neglect, or other crimes.

The requirements for good faith reporting to law enforcement agencies and child welfare vary by state. However, it is AYSO’s belief that we are morally obligated to report suspected abuse in addition to any mandated reporting requirements and we encourage any volunteer to file a good faith report.

Any volunteer under criminal investigation for a crime that might be detrimental to AYSO or its members may be suspended until the matter is resolved. The names and identities of the parties involved shall be protected at all times during the proceedings. A suspended volunteer who is subsequently cleared of all charges may apply to the Regional Commissioner (RC) and Board for reinstatement in the Region. However, reinstatement is not a right, and reinstated volunteers are not guaranteed to return to their former positions.

Training

In AYSO, all board members referees and coaches are required to be registered in the current AYSO Membership Year, as well as possess the appropriate training and certification. For the protection of players, volunteers and AYSO, all volunteers are required to complete the current version of AYSO’s Safe Haven along with the appropriate job training, in order to be trained and certified for the volunteer position(s) held. This includes age-specific coach training for coaches.

AYSO practices and matches are not permitted without an AYSO certified and trained coach. AYSO scheduled matches are not permitted without a certified and trained AYSO referee, except: In Schoolyard Soccer and Playground Soccer divisions in which referees/officials are not used; in 6U divisions in which referees/officials are optional and, if not used, certified and trained AYSO coaches will manage the match; and during certain events involving non-AYSO teams in which competition rules will apply. Practice scrimmages do not require a certified and trained AYSO referee. All other Regional volunteers will be trained in child and volunteer protection (AYSO’s Safe Haven).

Only official AYSO materials and courses (or those approved by AYSO) may be used to train and certify volunteers and only official AYSO programs, procedures, and policies will be taught. AYSO certified and registered instructors are required and authorized to lead courses and clinics.

To validate each attendee’s training and certification, and to ensure that the Regional, Area or Section board members, volunteers, coaches and referees are registered with AYSO, records of training or certification course attendance will be maintained in AYSO-U or through the submission of properly signed rosters of attendees sent to National Office. Instructors should always keep copies of their rosters.

Volunteers shall be subject to ongoing evaluation, and additional training may be required to maintain good standing within the Region and the organization.

Supervision

The Regional Board shall cooperate with the CVPA to ensure the safety of the Region’s players.

The Coach Administrator and the CVPA, prior to each season, shall meet with the head coach of each team, either individually or in groups, to review child protection and supervision responsibilities.

The Coach Administrator will work with the CVPA to ensure that all coaches are registered and age appropriately trained and certified.

The Coach Administrator shall observe and review the performance of coaches to see that it conforms to the standards set by this child and volunteer protection policy.

Once the head coach has assumed charge of the children on his or her team, he or she remains responsible until a duly designated adult has taken charge of each child after practice or a match or the child leaves the immediate vicinity of the practice or match as prearranged by the parent/guardian to walk home or to a friend’s or relative’s house. No child shall be left unsupervised after a match or practice. Parents/guardians must establish contact with the coach before leaving their child for a practice or a match and parents/guardians who are unreasonably late or consistently tardy should be reported to the CVPA for action.

The Referee Administrator and the CVPA, prior to each season, shall meet with the referees, either individually or in groups, to review child protection and supervision responsibilities.

The Referee Administrator will work with the CVPA to ensure that all referees are registered and trained and certified.

The Referee Administrator shall observe and review the performance of the referees to see that it conforms to the standards set by this child protection policy.

The match referee is responsible for providing a “child safe” atmosphere for the match, and has both the duty and authority to take any reasonable action to make it so. The referee is to report to the Referee Administrator and CVPA any cases of questionable conduct toward children by any coach, player, parent, sibling, or spectator before, during or after the match.

For the protection of both the children and the volunteer, no volunteer should permit himself or herself to be alone with any child or group of children (except his or her own) during AYSO-sponsored activities. The recommended supervision ratio should be 1:8 or less; that is, one adult for every eight or fewer children and two adults present at all times (one of whom may be the coach and one of whom should be the same gender as the players).

Volunteers shall notify the RC, CVPA, and parents concerning AYSO activities away from the regular practice areas, playing fields, or other designated areas. Such notification should be documented, stating the nature of the activity, the names of the children involved, and the names of the adult supervisors.

Conduct

The Region advocates and expects exemplary behavior by all its participants, and it will hold a strict line on conduct as laid out in these policies.

Abusive statements such as those that deal with race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, age, sex, or sexual orientation are not permitted. Sexual harassment, lewd comments and any form of inappropriate physical contact are prohibited. Bullying, hazing, corporal punishment and any act of violence are also prohibited. In addition, physical, emotional, sexual, and ethical abuses are prohibited, as is neglect or endangerment of a child. AYSO is a mandated reporter of suspected abuse in many states and asks any adult who knows or suspects abuse of a child to inform the Region and law enforcement.

Some forms of physical contact are acceptable as long as they are respectful and appropriate and should be:
• In response to the need of the child, not the need of the adult.
• With the child’s permission.
• Respectful of any hesitation or resistance.
• Careful to avoid private parts.
• Always in the open, never in private.
• Brief, limited in duration.
• Age and developmentally appropriate.

A child’s comfort level with physical contact is influenced by factors such as age, developmental stages, social and emotional well-being, life experiences, gender, etc. all of which change over time.

These policies will be updated regularly as needed.

AYSO’s Criminial Background Check Policy

AYSO’s Criminal Background Check Policy

Since January 1, 2001, all American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) Regions, Areas, and Sections are required to comply with the AYSO policy on criminal background checks. AYSO acts as the criminal background requesting entity unless specific arrangements have been approved in writing by the AYSO National Executive Director.

Any person wishing to volunteer in AYSO must complete an AYSO Volunteer Application Form in AYSO’s official member registration system each year, submit an esigned copy to the Region and consent to a criminal background check. The application form includes a Criminal Background Check Release. All requested information must be provided by the applicant, including Social Security number, driver license number (or other government issued photo I.D. if the applicant does not drive) and date of birth.

The Region must send the original copy of any handwritten/signed Volunteer Applications to the Safe Haven Department at the AYSO National Office in a timely fashion such that the most sensitive criminal background checks can be completed prior to the start of any playing season.

Criminal background checks are performed on an ongoing basis throughout the year. The responses on the AYSO Volunteer Application Form must coincide with background check results. Failure to answer honestly may be grounds for disqualification.

Each Region must designate at least one person as the Child and Volunteer Protection Advocate (CVPA) who must act as the liaison between the Region and AYSO for purposes of enacting this policy. Regions may appoint more than one CVPA as needed to expedite the screening process at the Region level.

To ensure compliance with all applicable laws, the AYSO Safe Haven staff members at the AYSO National Office are the only people authorized to initiate, review or have access to criminal background reports (unless sanctioned in writing by the National Executive Director). In all cases, the results of any criminal background check must be kept strictly confidential. These reports must be kept in a locked, secure location.

The Notice of Duty to Review Criminal Record process is initiated by the Safe Haven Department of AYSO. When a negative determination is made, a copy of the criminal conviction report received by the Safe Haven Department must be sent to that volunteer applicant in an envelope marked “Confidential – to be opened by addressee only,” along with the Notice of Duty to Review Criminal Record cover letter.

If a conviction is disclosed or discovered, the AYSO Safe Haven Department must make a decision on whether or not the applicant may be used based on the following guidelines and partial Table of Convictions and advise the Region of its decision. As used in this policy, the term conviction refers to a conviction entered after a trial, after a guilty plea or after a plea of no contest/nolo contendere.

Any application form that does not contain honest answers or that misrepresents the number, type or gravity of any such conviction(s) will not be approved irrespective of the nature of the offense or the time that has transpired since the conviction.

Any individual on probation or required to complete a court ordered rehabilitation or other such program following a conviction for a crime appearing on the Table of Convictions will not be considered to serve as a volunteer until all terms and conditions established by the court have been satisfied and proof of completion submitted to AYSO.

Any person convicted of a crime against or otherwise involving a minor at any time in the past will not be approved to be a volunteer.

Most felony convictions will result in a negative determination. Evidence of multiple convictions, either felony or misdemeanor, are likely to also result in a negative determination. Where a conviction is remote in time or where the applicant’s conduct since the conviction(s) indicates rehabilitation or lack of risk to the membership and the program, some leeway may be provided, but only with the concurrence of the RC and CVPA.

Persons convicted of a crime of violence or other serious crime against a person within the prior 20 years will be disqualified from any volunteer position.

Persons convicted of sex offenses will be disqualified from volunteering in AYSO.

Persons convicted of a theft related crime or fraud within the prior 15 years will be disqualified from any position involving the handling of funds, property or personal identification information.

Persons convicted of a serious substance abuse crime within the past 10 years will be disqualified from any coaching position, referee assignment or any position that leads children’s activities.

Persons convicted of less serious crimes of violence, substance abuse or one of the listed miscellaneous crimes within the past 5 years will be disqualified from any coaching position or any position that leads children’s activities.

In certain limited instances, AYSO will disqualify volunteers who have been arrested for a crime, even if the arrest later results in no charges being filed. While AYSO casts no judgment about any of the allegations and/or accusations in these instances, AYSO’s overriding and compelling interest is to provide a safe, fair and fun environment for children.

DUI: Persons convicted of driving while under the influence or other traffic/conduct related crimes within the preceding 3 years will be disqualified from holding the position of team coach or assistant coach. Persons convicted of driving under the influence within the preceding 3 years may be accepted for other volunteer positions with the understanding that they are prohibited from driving any child or AYSO volunteer other than immediate family members to or from an AYSO activity.

If any discretion is exercised in the application of this policy, it must be exercised in a uniform manner, so that substantially similar convictions and circumstances result in substantially similar treatment of potential volunteers. The CVPA or Regional Commissioner (RC) will be immediately notified when a negative determination is made, or if there are issues related to an application. The specific results leading to a negative determination must remain confidential unless the applicant is willing to reveal the results to the RC or CVPA.

Because of the serious implications to the entire AYSO organization, all Regions, Areas and Sections must comply with the decisions made by the Safe Haven Department of the National Office under this policy. Individuals disqualified or restricted by Safe Haven are not entitled to due process at the Region, Area or Section level. Their right of review is conducted in conjunction with their Notice of Duty to Review Criminal Background.

Electronic Communication and Social Media

Electronic Communication and Social Media

In keeping with the goal of the Safe Haven program to address the growing need to protect children from abuse, which includes the invasion of privacy rights and/or volunteers from misunderstandings and false accusations, the following recommendations are proposed for electronic communications and the use of social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Consistent with Safe Haven Child and Volunteer Protection Policies, AYSO asks all adults, regardless of whether they have a current volunteer application form on file, to maintain transparency in their communications with children while protecting children’s identity and privacy. It is the responsibility of adults to maintain appropriate boundaries.

All communications regarding AYSO activities and participation in the program must be directed to parents and guardians including voice messages, e-mails and text messages. It is up to a child’s parent(s) and/or guardian(s) to forward necessary communications to their children. If, for older players or youth volunteers, parents/guardians allow direct communications with a player or youth volunteers, parents must still be copied on any and all messages. Adults should refrain from private, personal, on-going electronic conversations with children.

All AYSO websites and pages on Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace must be monitored to prevent inappropriate postings, blogs or “tweets” which either divulge the identity of minors or include any disparaging comments or pictures. Neither AYSO websites nor social media sites may be conduits for social bullying, airing grievances, or gateways for predators. All AYSO or social media sites/pages should conform to the rules and regulations for use and safety as outlined by the site owner.

The AYSO Player Registration Form includes a general photo release for non-commercial purposes. Pictures posted on public sites should not include the names of individual players to avoid identifying children to the wrong individuals. Team rosters with names, numbers and contact information must not be posted on any public website or social media page.

Operation and maintenance of all AYSO websites should conform to AYSO’s Privacy Policy for online privacy protection and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA of 2000) which establishes mandated disclosures, parental notifications and options for all online activities when information is requested from children under 13 years of age.

The advantages and convenience of electronic communications and social media pages make them valuable and necessary tools for communicating with AYSO participants. As long as the same Safe Haven guidelines for interactions between adults and children are used in electronic media, the risk of abuse and misunderstandings can be minimized. Parents play a critical role in keeping children safe online and they must be included in all communications. Encourage parents to help with online safety by providing links to documents such as “A Parents’ Guide to Facebook” and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s “How to Protect Kids’ Privacy Online.”

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AYSO Region 83 - Five Cities

P.O. Box 1166 
Arroyo Grande, California 93421

Email Us: [email protected]
Phone : 805-000-0000
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