School-aged care (day camps and before and after school programs) that is held at schools or other off-site facilities faces unique safety risks. Because the sites are not owned or controlled by your JCC many have components or exposures that may raise significant safety concerns for your children.
Large folding tables on wheels are familiar fixtures in school cafeterias. School-aged care often uses such space for indoor programming, folding and moving the tables for additional space. If children are allowed to move or play near the folded tables they face serious risk of injury because of the unstable nature of many of the tables. If the school’s tables can not be removed from an area used by the program, they should be labeled (labels are available from TRG), secured to a wall or to each other, and only moved when children are not present.
Playgrounds and athletic fields have many potential dangers…be sure all equipment is age-appropriate and is checked for defects periodically (documentation is a good idea); make sure adequate resilient material is under any equipment; if portable soccer goals are present, ensure that they are adequately anchored (see also our documents related to playgrounds and soccer goals).
School staff and/or construction workers are commonly found at these sites throughout the year. This large non-JCC presence may make staff and children comfortable with unfamiliar faces. Stranger danger awareness must be emphasized as child predators can easily infiltrate a site where adults who are not affiliated with the JCC are frequently present. Staff should greet and identify all strangers in program areas even if they look like school or construction staff.
Some school sites host summer school at the same time and in the same general location as JCC programs. The introduction of other children of similar age to the JCC setting makes it difficult to distinguish who is a JCC-kid and who is not. Face checks and head counts must occur even more frequently when summer school is in session, especially during transitions to and from areas shared with the summer school.
Many schools use the summer for various construction projects. This can result in the relocation of large items like bookshelves into the halls and rooms used by the program. Because of the temporary nature of their location these pieces of furniture may not be secured and thus could fall or be pulled onto a child. If on-site construction stores large furniture items in program areas the items need to be moved elsewhere or properly secured.
School sites bring about additional challenges for safety in JCC school-aged care. It is crucially important to review the safety hazards present at any off-site location. Staff should begin each day with a tour to identify risks so they can be managed before an incident can occur. Another part of the overall process involves negotiating a contract that does not have the JCC responsible for areas of the facility over which it has no control, but that is a separate topic of its own.