Administrative, Policy and Legal Issues • Organizational Structure • Making Operating Decisions • Suggested Outline for Handbooks • Licensing Organizational Structure Every program has an organizational structure, whether it has been carefully drawn up in writing or simply evolved over the course of many months. A good administrative structure sets up clear lines of accountability and authority between partners. It is best to commit both the formal and informal aspects of this structure to paper, as soon and as clearly as possible. Agreements and/or contracts, reviewed by Club legal counsel, should be well-developed, ensuring that everyone involved knows who is responsible for what. It is also important that these documents be updated and reviewed periodically, to ensure they reflect current Club, school and after-school program practices. In the organizational structure of your program, the roles and responsibilities of each partner, board, staff and task forces or committees should be clearly understood. For example: Board of Directors: The Club board should be involved in policy decisions, long-range planning and resource development. Board members should be involved in deciding the philosophy of the program and who it is designed to serve. Staff: The Club director and appropriate program staff are responsible for the regular operation of the program, supervision of staff and the development and implementation of day-to-day procedures. Advisory Committee and Task Force: These groups, often made up of parents and experts in child development, can be extremely helpful in an advisory capacity. They may provide input on hours of operation, program needs, health issues, etc. They do not make policy, develop procedures or participate in the day-to-day management of the program. Drawing Up A Letter of Agreement When negotiations between the Boys & Girls Club and the school system are complete, prepare a letter of agreement (or contract) specifying the extent of facility use, the services to be provided by both parties, and the responsibilities of each. A sample facility agreement is included in Appendix B. Making Operating Decisions Many operating decisions must be made before the program begins. These bottom line courses of action must be given careful thought. Among the areas requiring operating decisions are: • enrollment procedures • hours of operation • transportation • food • behavior management/discipline • health and safety • medication • record keeping • payment of fees Every program's procedures will be unique, in response to the individual program philosophy, the design of child care services, and the nature of the surrounding community. Some operating procedures will be guided or determined by external sources. For example, most states have school-age child care regulations regarding the information and records to be kept for each child, access to these records and the length of time such records must be kept on file. In general, all procedures should insure the safety and well-being of the children and families that attend your program. Collectively, operating procedures help staff and employees to understand the general practices, decision-making process and ethics supported by the program. As such, they serve as protocol to help guide staff when they may need to make decisions about a situation not yet covered by a specified procedure. When designing operating procedures, be certain to examine and adhere to state and licensing requirements. For example, transportation procedures should specify the type and class of license required to transport children as required by the registry of motor vehicles in that state; the procedures will also adhere to state laws requiring use of child restraints for the after-school group in your care. Solid transportation procedures also address the number of children that can be transported per staff member. Transportation procedures will also insure that supervision is arranged for at both the drop-off and pick- up end of each transport. In addition, back-up arrangements, emergency contacts and telephone numbers will be readily available in case of emergency. In a similar fashion, you will want procedures on snack or food preparation to insure that the foods given are nutritionally appropriate, sufficient in amount and palatably varied. All programs should have discipline practices (which prohibit corporal punishment and humiliation) in writing. Likewise, it is important that programs set procedures for referral of at-risk children to supportive social service agencies and, if need be, for the process of termination from the program. As noted above, procedures should address potentially difficult situations that might be encountered. For instance, programs will want to have in writing protective procedures for preventing the release of a child for transport to a parent, guardian or other suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Procedures on reporting child abuse and neglect should be developed, including a process for dealing with potential abuse by a staff member. Refer to local licensing requirements and children's information and referral agencies for assistance in developing such policies. Many of these procedures will already have been developed by the Club and may only need slight alterations to work for your after-school program. All staff and board personnel should have written copies of these procedures, along with an orientation and update training periodically. In addition to written procedures for staff, parents should have a handbook outlining program policies and procedures. The following are some tips for establishing operating procedures: • Consult state school-age child care regulations. • Set the rules up as early as possible. • Keep the policies very broad and simple. • Be sure the procedures are uniform and created only to solve problems or avoid situations that could be complicated or troublesome. • Create policies and procedures that have a life of their own, and are not arbitrarily decided by individual discretion. • Ensure that the reasons for the policies and procedures are valid and justified. • Adhere firmly and consistently to the policies and procedures once they have been created and adopted. • Make exceptions only when the reasons are sound and defensible. • Develop a flexible mechanism for changing policies and procedures. Policy decision should be formally voted upon and adopted by the board. Setting the procedures and rules is the next step. To be followed, policies and procedures must be disseminated to those whose cooperation is needed: staff, parents and children. A parent handbook and a manual of operating procedures are important tools for making sure that once decided, policies and procedures really work. Suggested Outline for Handbooks Operating Procedures Handbook for staff should include: a. program description b. organizational chart c. philosophy and services provided d. licensing e. sources of funding f. purpose of the manual, including procedures for revision g. health and safety h. admissions policy and procedures i. service delivery j. transportation k. discipline Parent Handbook should include (see Appendix B for a sample Parent Handbook): a. program philosophy b. description of services and general policies c. hours and type of service d. release of children e. enrollment procedures f. discipline g. meals and snacks h. financial issues/payment procedures i. parent roles and responsibilities j. volunteer involvement k. clothes, food, etc. l. health and safety m. snow days n. vacation and long days o. staff and board p. calendar Licensing In most states, school-age child care programs are required to obtain licenses and building inspection certificates to insure minimum standards for the care and safety of children in regulated programs. The agencies responsible for licensing procedures vary from state to state. Some come under the auspices of the departments of youth or children; some are governed by the departments of health and welfare; others by state offices of education or licensing. Most licensing requirements cover a wide range of health, safety, program operations, staffing, administration, supervision and developmental guidelines, practices and policies related to the professional care, development and supervision of young children. They are designed to guarantee that a minimum of safety and caretaking needs are met for children and families utilizing licensed child care programs. In many states, operators and caregivers are required by regulations to undergo a criminal record check and child abuse clearance prior to contact with children. Most states require minimum building and fire code regulations, although in certain states programs operating in public school buildings are either fully or partially exempt from certain licensing regulations and building code requirements. The variations in licensing and code requirements vary dramatically from state to state. Therefore, it is imperative that you examine your own state and/or county licensing regulations to insure that your Boys & Girls Club after-school program is in compliance with all such regulations.
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