Child & Volunteer Protection
Volunteers are the lifeblood of AYSO. To ensure the safety of both children and volunteers, each volunteer is required to take a short in-person or online training session called Safe Haven®. It focuses on safety and appropriate behavior with children as well as other on-field issues. Agreeing to a background check is also required for each volunteer.
Becoming Safe Haven® certified may take a little time, but AYSO families know their children's safety is worth it.
Safe Haven® is both a child and volunteer protection program. It was the first of its kind in youth sports.
The child protection aspect is intended to prevent child abuse, promote education and awareness, enforce policies and screen and train volunteers. It includes proactive steps that promote a positive, healthy environment for children.
Volunteer protection is the result of volunteer training, certification and continuing education. The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 provides certain legal protections for volunteers who have been trained and certified and act in accordance with a written job description and AYSO's policies and guidelines.
What is Safe Haven®?
AYSO’s Safe Haven® program is designed to address the growing need for Child and Volunteer Protection in youth sports. The components of the program help create a safe, fun, fair and positive environment - “safe haven” - for all participants.
What are the Safe Haven®
Registering and Screening All Volunteers
AYSO requires all volunteers to complete a volunteer application every year and agree to background investigations. References are checked for all brand new volunteers and every volunteer is subject to screening for sex offender registration and criminal convictions according to AYSO’s National Criminal Background Check Policy.
Training and Certification
In order to ensure the fulfillment of AYSO’s vision and the protection of volunteers and players, every volunteer is required to take AYSO’s Safe Haven training and be properly trained for their jobs (job training). AYSO’s in-house certification program provides every volunteer with the highest level of training at the lowest possible cost and features child-centric curriculum, age and developmentally appropriate activities and AYSO certified instructors.
Child and Volunteer Protection Guidelines
AYSO’s protection guidelines are designed to prevent opportunities for abuse to occur while minimizing opportunities for volunteers to be misunderstood or falsely accused. The guidelines hold coaches responsible for all players, for maintaining supervision protocols and maintaining appropriate adult/child boundaries.
Safety and Injury Prevention
All volunteers are asked to help promote safety and injury prevention by recognizing common emergency medical conditions, risks associated with environmental hazards, weather conditions, field conditions and equipment.
What is accreditation?
Accreditation by an authorizing agency attests to and approves our programs as meeting a prescribed standard. Accreditation applies to our programs, the way that they are delivered, and who delivers them. Through accreditation, an outside, credentialed institution grants recognition that we maintain reputable standards. National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) Standards Accreditation - Accreditation and adherence to NCACE's national standards provides AYSO with across the board recognition and validity from colleges, universities, high school athletic associations, national governing bodies of sport, youth sports organizations, and others for AYSO's certification programs.
Why do we focus so much on the Volunteer Protection Act?
We don't. We focus on using both the Volunteer Protection Act and the Child Protection Act to protect both children and volunteers. In tandem, they provide us with the three layers of protection that volunteers need: training, certification, and continuing education.
When I read the Volunteer Protection Act, I don't see a lot of the elements put into Safe Haven®
. Where do you come up with your criteria?
Our goal is to protect both children and volunteers, not volunteers alone. Therefore, we have to look at the requirements of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, the Child Protection Act of 1993, the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997, amendments to all these acts, Good Samaritan Laws, the results of trial law, legal opinion and analysis, requirements of insurers, the core philosophies of the organization, and the input of volunteer task forces that have met on these subjects.
Give me the bottom line here. What do we really have to do?
In order to receive full protection under the law and to protect children fully, AYSO volunteers need five things.
- Sign and submit a Volunteer Application every year,
- Be authorized to do their job,
- Act within the scope of their job descriptions and AYSO’s policies, procedures and guidelines,
- Complete Safe Haven training and
- Be properly trained in their jobs.