There’s no doubt that, when it comes to their children, parents make safety their top priority. Whether little ones are participating in sports, heading off to school, or enjoying time outside in the park or playground, safety always comes first. It should be no different with recreation programs so we’ve put together five ways that your organization can get parents to buy into safety when their children are in your care.
Parks & Recreation Departments often have specific safety plans and measures in place, ones that staff are well trained on, and expected to put into action when the time calls for it. While they might not specifically ask for it, providing families with safety information about your camps, programs and child care services can go a long way to providing peace of mind.
Many Parks & Rec Departments include information about their overall safety and security procedures on their websites, and it’s a good idea to include additional details about the types of training required for recreation staff working with children – things like First Aid, CPR, program-specific certifications (like lifeguard or aquatics), or training for playground and daycare supervision. Make sure this information is easy for families to find when they need it, either on a dedicated web page or as part of their registration packet.
Keep lines of communication open
When you provide key safety and training information to families, you open the lines of communication with your department. Often, the details you’ve provided are enough to answer many questions, but, for those occasions where parents or guardians have something more specific to ask, ensure they have a way to do so.
Whether it’s a form they can fill out on the website, a phone number, or an email address, make sure they have every opportunity to get the answers they seek. In fact, encouraging questions can help parents feel more comfortable asking them, and can help them become more familiar with your safety processes. They might also have some great safety ideas that weren’t considered before!
Involve parents, guardians, and families
Of course, parents and guardians aren’t going to get involved at the program, camp or services level – that’s what your recreation staff are for! However, by sharing key safety information with them, providing them with additional resources, and encouraging them to have conversations with their children at home, you can ensure that safety stays top of mind, keeping everyone educated and involved. That makes things much easier when you continue the conversation at camp or in daycare.
Give them a job
No no, we don’t expect you to hire any parents for this purpose! But you can give them other “jobs” to do – think of it like homework that they can work on with their children. Help them help your recreation staff in the following ways:
- Encourage parents to have regular conversations with their kids to ensure they understand the safety requirements of any program they are involved in
- Make sure parents and guardians know how and where to update emergency contact and medical information should details change
- Request that parents provide children with extra medication (e.g. asthma inhalers) or equipment (e.g. EpiPens) to bring to their programs, and that they educate them on how and when to use those items properly
You might even want to recommend that families get first aid and CPR training – not only is it a great skill to have overall, but it can help everyone get a better understanding of the training that recreation staff must take, and to know what’s going on should an emergency occur.
Use the right tools
Families are busy all year round, but this time of year can be a little more hectic as parents plan for summer activities and everything else to keep their children busy during the day. Giving parents the right tools and resources to learn about, and ensure, their children’s safety is important and appreciated by them.
Make it easy for families to find the information they need, whether it’s the various forms you require for your programs, or phone numbers to contact you if they’re going to be late to pick up their child. Also, make sure they know how to notify your department or program staff if they have any health or safety concerns, or if something changes with their child’s medical or emergency contact details – this is especially important if things change after camps or programs have started, so that you can get the most up-to-date information to your program leaders right away (hint: ePACT can help with this!).
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