Effective May 15, 2015, the new SUNY System-wide Child Protection Policy sets protocols and mandates for SUNY Oneonta to follow when children are in our custody, control, or under our supervision.
In order to comply with the SUNY Child Protection Policy, employees of SUNY Oneonta, employees of College-affiliated organizations, students, volunteers, and permittees must complete all required training if working directly with children in a “Covered Activity”. A “Covered Activity” is defined as a program or activity sponsored or approved by the College or a College-affiliated organization occurring on or off campus, for the duration of which the responsibility for custody, control, and supervision of children is vested in the University, University-affiliated organization. Vendors, licensees, and permittees are required to follow the policy through the completion of the revocable permit process. This policy is not applicable to College on-campus child care centers.
If you will have custody, control, or supervision of children participating in the “Covered Activity” then you are considered a “Covered Person”. “Covered Persons” are required to complete the necessary training before working with children. Examples of a “Covered Person” would be: a counselor at a summer sports camp, a student working with children as part of their class, and an athlete working a clinic with children, etc.
A “child” is considered under the age of 17 years old for this policy.
If you plan to oversee a “Covered Activity” on or off campus, please contact Graig Eichler, Child Protection Compliance Officer, for guidance in meeting all requirements for the Child Protection policy and the Mandatory Reporting and Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Policy.
1. Campus Responsibilities
A. Designate a Responsible University Official (“RUO”) for each Covered Activity.
The director/coordinator (person in charge of event) will be the RUO for the event. RUO may or may not be present at the Covered Activity. Where Covered Persons are present at the Covered Activity, the RUO need not be present, so long as they are available (i.e. responsible) to the Covered Persons. For example, if designated RUO is away on vacation or medical leave, or absent in such a way that s/he is not available to the Covered Persons handling the Covered Activity, an alternate RUO must be designated for the Covered Activity.
Child Safety Compliance Officer (“CSCO”)* will be responsible for the Policy to be communicated to the campus community, coordinate trainings with the RUO, compliance, and recordkeeping for the College.
B. Exceptions for a Covered Person to be alone with a child.
The Policy aims to protect children from 1-on-1 contact with adults, including Covered Persons, through which children may be at risk of physical or sexual abuse. Exceptions to the 1-on-1 provisions of the Policy should therefore be applied only with thorough and cautious consideration.
There are exceptions to the 1-on-1 prohibition in situations where the pedagogical or health-related nature of the activity logically involves only two participants, such as an instructor/treating professional and a student/patient. Examples of these activities include, but are not limited to, tutoring, music lessons, speech therapy, and medical services.
Parental release forms must be signed for such exceptions, but even accepted activities should generally be observable and interruptible by other adults, as appropriate for the activity.
Transportation, bussing, locker rooms, shower rooms, and restrooms will require additional attendants to ensure that no child is alone with an adult.
In an emergency, 1-on-1 contact is permissible.
Training Frequency: Covered Persons will be trained prior to the commencement of a Covered Activity. Biennially (every two years) trainings will occur thereafter on this Policy for all Covered Persons who are employees, volunteers, students or agents of the State University or a University-affiliated organization prior to the commencement of a Covered Activity. No individual may participate in a Covered Activity as a Covered Person without first having received training.
The RUO will be responsible to communicate the Policy to Covered Persons who are employees, volunteers, students or agents of the State University or a University-affiliated organization prior to the commencement of a Covered Activity. Covered Persons will sign a document indicating that they have been trained.
The College has no responsibility to train third-party users of College facilities; however the CSCO will communicate the policy and require compliance.
D. Sex Offender Registry Searches
A Registry Search on all Covered Persons using both the New York and national registries must be performed. The search covers employees, volunteers, students or agents of the State University or a University-affiliated organization and is required to be completed not more than ninety (90) days prior to the commencement of a Covered Activity. A Registry Search is not a background check. A Registry Search is targeted to identifying convicted sex offenders.
The RUO of the Covered Activity will be responsible for sending the CSCO a list of all Cover Persons and their date of birth. The CSCO will conduct the Registry Search. Covered Persons shall be notified by the RUO that a Registry Search will be conducted. A refusal to give consent would disqualify an individual from participating in a Covered Activity.
When a Sex Offender Registry Search identifies an individual as a convicted sex offender, that individual cannot participate or be involved in any way with a Covered Activity. A convicted sex offender result may raise an employee relations issue and that department should be consulted before further action is taken. The Human Resource (HR) issues that may accompany this type of result are outside the scope of the Child Protection Policy and should be handled by our HR office in accordance with our policies.
Vendors, licensees, permittees or other persons given permission to come onto campus or to use University facilities for Covered Activities are responsible to conduct sex offender registry checks on their employees, agents and volunteers participating in the Covered Activity.
E. Reports of Allegations of Physical Abuse or Sexual Abuse of a Child
The University Police Department will provide for the prompt investigation into, and preparation of written findings of reports of suspected physical abuse or sexual abuse. If there is reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed, the University Police Department will collaborate with other law enforcement officials.
Retaliatory action against anyone acting in good faith, who has reported alleged physical abuse or sexual abuse in accordance with this Policy, or who has been involved in investigating or responding to allegations of physical or sexual abuse, or who has reported a failure to comply with this Policy, is a violation of this Policy. Retaliatory acts may include, but are not limited to:
- employment actions affecting salary, promotion, job duties, work schedules and/or work locations;
- actions negatively impacting a student's academic record or progress; and
- any action affecting the campus environment, including harassment and intimidation.
Reporting Retaliation: Retaliatory action should be reported to the University Police Department.
Allegations of Retaliation: If allegations of retaliation are made, University Police Department will conduct an investigation. University Police Department may decide to refer the allegations to the appropriate office on campus when necessary.
CSCO will retain documentation of Covered Persons trained on the policy and of the search results from the New York and National Sex Offender registries for Covered Persons who are employees, volunteers, students or agents of the University or a University-affiliated organization for six (6) years after the covered person has separated from the College.
2. Compliance & Communication
The RUO will be responsible for meeting all requirements on the RUO compliance checklist and returning the signed document to the CSCO no sooner than 90 days prior to the commencement of the Covered Activity and no later than 3 days before the commencement of the Covered Activity. The CSCO will be responsible for recordkeeping of all Covered Activities.
Regularly, the CSCO will coordinate a campus communication on the Child Protection Policy and the Mandatory Reporting and Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Policy to the campus community.
3. University-Affiliated Organizations
For purposes of the Policy, there exist only four (4) University-Affiliated Organizations:
(1) The Research Foundation;
(2) The College Foundation;
(3) The Alumni Association; and
(4) The Oneonta Auxiliary Services (OAS)
University-affiliated organizations are not treated as third parties under the Policy. Policy Section I, Third Party Use of University Facilities, is not applicable to University-affiliated organizations
When a University-affiliated organization sponsors a Covered Activity on campus, it must appoint a RUO unless, it is coordinated with the campus. In this case, the College is required to appoint a RUO.
The Policy does not cover University-affiliated on-campus child care centers, regardless of whether they are operated by the University or by a separate corporate entity.
Student organizations, despite their ties to the College by charter, faculty advisors or budget, are not University-affiliated organizations under the Policy definition unless they are so designated by the Chancellor or the College President. Absent such designation, there is no obligation to treat student groups as University-affiliated organizations.
Designating a student group as an affiliate is event-based, not permanent. Designating a student group as an affiliate for an event means that the event they conduct with children becomes a Covered Activity. This triggers the provisions of Policy Section G, Campus Responsibilities and makes those provisions applicable to the student group. Additionally, such designation makes student group members Covered Persons, which triggers the RUO to take the steps outlined under Policy Section F, Responsible University Official, with respect to them. The decision to designate student groups as University-affiliated organizations rests with the College, but the Policy does not require such designation. Designation will create additional responsibilities for the campus, specifically, the requirements of Policy Sections F & G described in the preceding paragraph. The College may also be exposed to liability for the actions of student groups by virtue of their designation as a University-affiliated organization.
Non-affiliated student groups engaged in activities with children occurring off-campus are not subject to the Child Protection Policy. For non-affiliated student groups to engage in Covered Activities on campus, the Policy provides only two options:
(1) The student group may run the Covered Activity as “permittees” who sign and abide by the terms of a Revocable Permit; OR
(2) The student group may fit under the definition of “Covered Persons,” specifically, as an “other person who is given permission to come onto the campus or to use College facilities for Covered Activities.” (Policy Section C, Covered Person (iv).) Other persons given permission to come onto the campus or to use campus facilities for Covered Activities are guests/invitees of the College. They are not permittees required to execute a Revocable Permit. Under Option 2 above, the Policy requires the following:
- The RUO must obtain an Acknowledgement Form from the student group prior to commencement of the Covered Activity. (Policy Section F. 3.) Exhibit D to the Model Revocable Permit may be adapted by the campus for such use.
- In signing the Acknowledgement, the student group acknowledges that Sex Offender Registry searches have been conducted in accordance with the Policy for each of their Covered Persons. Should the College lack confidence in a student group’s ability to comply with this requirement, it may run the Sex Offender Registry checks and revise the Acknowledgement Form accordingly.
- The College must communicate the requirements of the Policy to each Covered Person. (Policy Section G. 3).
4. Revocable Permits for Third Party Vendors
Third parties (vendors, licensees, permittees, referred to collectively as “Permittees”) given permission to use College facilities for Covered Activities must do so pursuant to the Revocable Permit for Covered Activities. The Revocable Permit attached to the Child Protection Policy is for use with Covered Activities only. For all other use of College facilities, the standard SUNY Revocable Permit is applicable.
CSCO will coordinate the Revocable Permit process and permittees will be given copies of the SUNY Child Protection Policy (No. 6505) and the SUNY Policy on Mandatory Reporting and Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse (No. 6504). Permittees must provide a written acknowledgement to the College of their receipt of the policies on Exhibit D to the Revocable Permit.
Permittees are responsible for conducting Sex Offender Registry searches for all of their employees, volunteers, and agents, which would include all subcontractors, who come onto Campus or use College facilities for Covered Activities pursuant to the Revocable Permit. By signing the Revocable Permit, Permittees acknowledge that Sex Offender Registry searches have been conducted, and that they have been conducted no sooner than 90 days before the scheduled event.
The College recommends the Permittee to obtain Sexual Molestation Insurance (“SMI”) but it is not required at this time. SMI is generally excluded from Commercial General Liability (“CGL”) policies and must be purchased separately. As a state educational corporation, SUNY is not authorized to provide guidance to third parties regarding their purchase of insurance. The College, however, recommends that they contact their insurance broker or insurance agent for professional advice on coverage, costs, and application requirements.
By signing the Revocable Permit, Permittees holding a Camp Operator Permit from the New York State Department of Health acknowledge that they will adhere to the American Camp Association standards for minimum staff-to-child ratios and will provide transportation for minors to and from the campus in accordance with the provisions of the Revocable Permit, which requires that in addition to the driver of the vehicle, there must be at least one other staff member in the vehicle at all times.
A Permittee holding a Camp Operator Permit from the New York State Department of Health is not exempt from the provisions of the Revocable Permit. A children’s camp operated by a third party Permittee using College facilities must adhere to the New York State Department of Health standards for licensed camps and to the University’s standards as enunciated in the Child Protection Policy and the Revocable Permit.
*Currently Graig Eichler is the campus Child Safety Compliance Officer (CSCO)
Below are key links in helping better understand the regulations set forth by SUNY.
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Oneonta, NY 13820