AYSO Safe Haven Policies for Child and Volunteer Protection
The Region is committed to the protection of all its children from abuse and neglect while participating in the program and it promotes the awareness and prevention of child abuse in the community at large.
The Region shall have at least one Child and Volunteer Protection Advocate (CVPA), who shall be responsible for overseeing the AYSO Safe Haven child and volunteer protection program in accordance with AYSO guidelines. He or she shall be a member of the Regional Board and will act as the main resource on child protection issues and shall be the Region’s liaison with the National Safe Haven Administrator at the AYSO National Office.
A volunteer application form must be submitted each year. It is easiest and most secure if the volunteer supplies or updates his/her information online through AYSO’s registration System of Record. The online form can be electronically signed, printed and submitted to the Region for reference checks and confirmation of photo identification. The volunteer application form is extremely important because it authorizes AYSO to perform applicant screening. Volunteers should know that they are subject to background screening. Criminal background checks are performed at the National Office by the Safe Haven department.
The Region shall have the right to deny the participation of any individual who refuses to fill out the volunteer application form completely or disagrees with any of the agreements required on the application, who lies or knowingly misrepresents information on the application form, or who violates the principles of these child protection policies. AYSO shall have the right to revoke both the registration and certification of any volunteer who falsifies information, is found guilty of child abuse, neglect, or other crimes.
The requirements for good faith reporting to law enforcement agencies and child welfare vary by state. However, it is AYSO’s belief that we are morally obligated to report suspected abuse in addition to any mandated reporting requirements and we encourage any volunteer to file a good faith report.
Any volunteer under criminal investigation for a crime that might be detrimental to AYSO or its members may be suspended until the matter is resolved. The names and identities of the parties involved shall be protected at all times during the proceedings. A suspended volunteer who is subsequently cleared of all charges may apply to the Regional Commissioner (RC) and Board for reinstatement in the Region. However, reinstatement is not a right, and reinstated volunteers are not guaranteed to return to their former positions.
In AYSO, all board members referees and coaches are required to be registered in the current AYSO Membership Year, as well as possess the appropriate training and certification. For the protection of players, volunteers and AYSO, all volunteers are required to complete the current version of AYSO’s Safe Haven along with the appropriate job training, in order to be trained and certified for the volunteer position(s) held. This includes age-specific coach training for coaches.
AYSO practices and matches are not permitted without an AYSO certified and trained coach. AYSO scheduled matches are not permitted without a certified and trained AYSO referee, except: In Schoolyard Soccer and Playground Soccer divisions in which referees/officials are not used; in 6U divisions in which referees/officials are optional and, if not used, certified and trained AYSO coaches will manage the match; and during certain events involving non-AYSO teams in which competition rules will apply. Practice scrimmages do not require a certified and trained AYSO referee. All other Regional volunteers will be trained in child and volunteer protection (AYSO’s Safe Haven).
Only official AYSO materials and courses (or those approved by AYSO) may be used to train and certify volunteers and only official AYSO programs, procedures, and policies will be taught. AYSO certified and registered instructors are required and authorized to lead courses and clinics.
To validate each attendee’s training and certification, and to ensure that the Regional, Area or Section board members, volunteers, coaches and referees are registered with AYSO, records of training or certification course attendance will be maintained in AYSO-U or through the submission of properly signed rosters of attendees sent to National Office. Instructors should always keep copies of their rosters.
Volunteers shall be subject to ongoing evaluation, and additional training may be required to maintain good standing within the Region and the organization.
The Regional Board shall cooperate with the CVPA to ensure the safety of the Region’s players.
The Coach Administrator and the CVPA, prior to each season, shall meet with the head coach of each team, either individually or in groups, to review child protection and supervision responsibilities.
The Coach Administrator will work with the CVPA to ensure that all coaches are registered and age appropriately trained and certified.
The Coach Administrator shall observe and review the performance of coaches to see that it conforms to the standards set by this child and volunteer protection policy.
Once the head coach has assumed charge of the children on his or her team, he or she remains responsible until a duly designated adult has taken charge of each child after practice or a match or the child leaves the immediate vicinity of the practice or match as prearranged by the parent/guardian to walk home or to a friend’s or relative’s house. No child shall be left unsupervised after a match or practice. Parents/guardians must establish contact with the coach before leaving their child for a practice or a match and parents/guardians who are unreasonably late or consistently tardy should be reported to the CVPA for action.
The Referee Administrator and the CVPA, prior to each season, shall meet with the referees, either individually or in groups, to review child protection and supervision responsibilities.
The Referee Administrator will work with the CVPA to ensure that all referees are registered and trained and certified.
The Referee Administrator shall observe and review the performance of the referees to see that it conforms to the standards set by this child protection policy.
The match referee is responsible for providing a “child safe” atmosphere for the match, and has both the duty and authority to take any reasonable action to make it so. The referee is to report to the Referee Administrator and CVPA any cases of questionable conduct toward children by any coach, player, parent, sibling, or spectator before, during or after the match.
For the protection of both the children and the volunteer, no volunteer should permit himself or herself to be alone with any child or group of children (except his or her own) during AYSO-sponsored activities. The recommended supervision ratio should be 1:8 or less; that is, one adult for every eight or fewer children and two adults present at all times (one of whom may be the coach and one of whom should be the same gender as the players).
Volunteers shall notify the RC, CVPA, and parents concerning AYSO activities away from the regular practice areas, playing fields, or other designated areas. Such notification should be documented, stating the nature of the activity, the names of the children involved, and the names of the adult supervisors.
The Region advocates and expects exemplary behavior by all its participants, and it will hold a strict line on conduct as laid out in these policies.
Abusive statements such as those that deal with race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, age, sex, or sexual orientation are not permitted. Sexual harassment, lewd comments and any form of inappropriate physical contact are prohibited. Bullying, hazing, corporal punishment and any act of violence are also prohibited. In addition, physical, emotional, sexual, and ethical abuses are prohibited, as is neglect or endangerment of a child. AYSO is a mandated reporter of suspected abuse in many states and asks any adult who knows or suspects abuse of a child to inform the Region and law enforcement.
Some forms of physical contact are acceptable as long as they are respectful and appropriate and should be:
• In response to the need of the child, not the need of the adult.
• With the child’s permission.
• Respectful of any hesitation or resistance.
• Careful to avoid private parts.
• Always in the open, never in private.
• Brief, limited in duration.
• Age and developmentally appropriate.
A child’s comfort level with physical contact is influenced by factors such as age, developmental stages, social and emotional well-being, life experiences, gender, etc. all of which change over time.
These policies will be updated regularly as needed.