For questions about our COVID-19 safety measures, click here.
For safety information for YWx Trips, click here.
Safety is of the utmost importance to our organization! Please know, if we felt that participants were to be in danger in a community, we would cancel the trip or move to a different site. We want participants to feel safe throughout the entire week, and we want parents and church leadership to know that we take every precaution in order to ensure their safety. With that said, we do rely on Adult Leaders and youth to help the YouthWorks staff in maintaining the safety policies and procedures for their mission week.
When groups arrive at the mission site, the staff leads orientation meetings explaining the following:
- The community that the participants will be serving
- The boundaries of the housing site
- The Three-Together Rule: YouthWorks requires that student participants always be in groups of three or more. Any time participants leave the boundaries of the housing site, they must have an Adult Leader or a YouthWorks staff member with their group.
- Appropriate behavior on a YW trip: One of the ways we set expectations and educate participants on healthy behaviors is by reading a statement, “Safety & Appropriate Behavior at a YouthWorks site.”
- Fire and weather safety (as applicable) and an evacuation drill
- Any other site-specific safety boundaries
Additionally, we are very aware of the neighborhoods in which we work. We have secure housing for our participants and our schedule does not bring us out late at night. Our program is conducted within solid boundaries and in communities where we are known and loved. The summer site staff will supply your group with phone numbers and addresses of local emergency medical facilities.
The participant release form filled out by each youth and Adult Leader is sufficient for entry into any U.S. Emergency Room. Every staff member at YouthWorks is CPR and First Aid certified. Furthermore, each staff member has gone through an intensive application process and has had a thorough background check completed.
To promote a safe environment for YouthWorks participants and for the communities that we serve, we require that an annual federal and national (“multi-state”) background check and sex offender registry check be completed on all participants 18 and over, including Adult Leaders and youth attending the mission trip. Knowing that all adults are getting background checks will give peace of mind to community groups and other groups that will be part of the trip. It will also fulfill requirements from ministry partners that want background checks completed on adults who will be volunteering at their organizations.
Money and Valuables
You and your students may choose to bring a small amount of spending money for souvenirs, and we encourage you to bring money for YouthWorks Store merchandise. For some sites, we also ask each person to bring up to $10 for an activity during the week. We encourage participants to leave valuables at home. Please remind all participants to keep cash and valuables in a secure location at all times. YouthWorks cannot be responsible for lost, damaged or stolen items.
All groups who come to the site participate in the preparation and serving of meals and cleanup. This gives youth an opportunity to serve one another and share the responsibility of the housing site. A YouthWorks staff member or trained YouthWorks volunteer will be present in the kitchen for all meal preparations. YouthWorks provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and multiple snacks each day.
Due to the nature of large group meal preparation, we cannot guarantee a participant will not be exposed to any certain food. Nor can we promise to have exactly the right food to meet every special dietary need. For those participants who are gluten-free, YouthWorks will provide GF bread, GF pasta and GF cereal. We also provide a non-dairy milk option.
Navigating the ingredient lists and having access to the correct foods invites too much room for error for staff that don’t know and understand required diets. We recommend that participants with severe allergies or special dietary needs bring supplemental food for the week.
Contacting a Participant While on Site
YouthWorks provides Trip Leaders with a 24-hour emergency line to give their church or parents in case a student needs to be contacted. We also encourage Trip Leaders to set up a contact process with parents before the trip so parents understand if and how they will receive updates throughout the week.
As a rule, we do not allow youth and Adult Leaders to take showers at the same time. Students will still be supervised by having adults in the general vicinity of the shower area in case of an emergency. If students do not have private shower stalls, they must wear swimsuits while showering.
YouthWorks staff and Adult Leaders from other groups will leave the discipline of your youth to you. Likewise, we ask that you leave the discipline of youth not in your group to their leaders. Remember that other youth leaders may discipline their youth differently than you do at your church. If a situation arises that the YouthWorks staff members believe is irreparable, the youth involved will be transported home immediately at the expense of their parent or guardian. We sincerely hope that such a problem never occurs. Our intention is to work closely and prayerfully with Adult Leaders in making such a decision.
During the week your clothes may endure paint, sweat, mud and lots of love from children! Bring clothes that you can work and play hard in, including closed-food shoes or work boots to keep your feet safe. YouthWorks has a packing list available to registered participants that lists out what to bring on their trip. Registered participants can find this packing list on their paperwork site.
We diligently seek out reputable partnerships within each community. Community experiences (including housing sites, service sites, cultural activities, etc.) are commonly established through trusted community members or existing organizations. In addition, YouthWorks consistently gathers feedback from local leaders when seeking new partnerships.
When committing to work alongside community organizations and leaders, our procedure is to review our safety expectations with our partners to ensure the safety of our participants. It is our desire to create a mutually safe environment during the service day.
Post-Trip Contact between Staff & Student Participants
After the summer, YouthWorks does not allow communication between staff and student participants. Specifically, we ask our staff to not engage in one-on-one contact with minors.
Driving throughout the Week
Each church is responsible for transportation throughout the week. This includes not only transporting your youth and leaders but also transporting youth and leaders from other church groups to service locations and Evening Activities. During the day, you may be at one place all day or serve at one place in the morning and a different place in the afternoon. You will be given addresses to and from each location, back to the housing site and to emergency facilities. In some instances, we will give specific written directions. In some cases, YouthWorks staff may be available to escort you to your service location.
We know that everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to driving and parking. Because you will be in unfamiliar places, please work together with your leaders before the trip to determine who is comfortable driving, parking and leading in this role. It is very easy for the transportation aspect of your trip to become stressful and, in some cases, to change the tone of your experience. We don’t want a bad driving experience to negatively impact your overall experience! Be prepared to be flexible in this area. Directions change and construction happens, but it doesn’t need to get in the way of a great mission trip week.
Alcohol, Drug and Weapon Policy
Alcohol, illicit drugs and weapons are strictly forbidden at YouthWorks housing and ministry sites. Anyone (leaders/youth) in possession of such items will be sent home immediately. To ensure the safety of your youth, we request that any prescription drugs and other medications be held in the custody of one of the Adult Leaders from your group.
Harassment and Abuse Policy
YouthWorks prohibits sexual harassment, harassment, and physical and/or sexual abuse on or off the YouthWorks premises or in the course of YouthWorks activities or ministries. YouthWorks will investigate any allegations of such misconduct in accordance with applicable law. YouthWorks will not retaliate against the reporting person.
Though requirements vary state-to-state, YouthWorks considers our staff and Adult Leaders mandatory reporters of abuse or neglect of minors. Our staff are trained through MinistrySafe, and we recommend groups complete this, or a similar training for their adults.