First and foremost, make sure you have excellent insurance……..
Ok, so now that I know you have excellent insurance, let me give you a scenario.
A very close person to me (although she lives in a different state) runs an after school program in her VERY TINY little town where she now lives. She is new to town….has no longstanding relationship with any patrons in town….and on top of it all is new to child care. In the first few weeks of her new job, an employee came to her and related that they were concerned about a child’s (who was in the program) safety. This employee had first-hand knowledge about the child since the child was like a grandchild to her.
This friend of mine listened to the situation and then carefully informed her employee that due to mandated reporting requirements, the situation had to be reported. Per mandated reporting requirements, my friend reported the situation to the authorities. Now, you can see where this is going because you have likely been there!
The employee immediately quit in anger and began to spread rumors throughout this tiny little town that people had better watch out or “so-and-so” will get your kids taken away by child protective services. My friend called me and asked for my advice, since I work in the field of child care and I have been a professional social worker for many years – with extensive experience handling child welfare cases.
The first thing I asked her was; do you have a Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Policy? Thankfully, she works for a large organization and the answer was YES! Whew!! Next, I asked if she received her former employee’s written resignation. No – the employee refused to speak to her much less give her a written resignation. Ok, I said – you need to document, document, document. Facts and only facts. What was said, when, where, what was done, chronologically, whose direction was sought, etc. etc.
Documentation is of utmost importance in situations like these. Keep some type of chronological notations from day to day, maybe a spiral notebook, binder, or on your computer. It may seem monotonous (and you hope that it will be monotonous – these types of “excitement” are very stressful) but it is very important. If you don’t normally keep a running record, if something like this comes up – begin immediately. Note times, date, what was said, what was done, any officials you had to contact, what they told you, etc. I cannot stress enough the importance of factual documentation.
If you don’t have a Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Policy – check out our website for one! Then make it work for your program!
Stayed tuned for “Part 2” of this article next week.