Conducting University Youth Programs: Minimum Operational Requirements

Last updated: 05/04/2017 (see bottom for details)

Youth Program Criminal Background Check (CBC) Authorization Form  (PDF)

I.  Background

The University strives to offer a safe and enjoyable educational environment for all minors attending its programs. In support of that goal, this document sets forth minimum requirements for conducting University youth programs.

II.  Applicability

These requirements apply to all University youth programs, except programs sponsored by MSU Extension (including 4H) that are covered by the MSU Extension Volunteer Selection Process and other youth program policies.

The criminal background check requirements do not apply to youth programs whose format requires the participating minor to be accompanied at all times by a parent, legal guardian, or other adult relative (e.g., Grandparents University, Take your Child to Work Day).

The criminal background check requirements do apply to youth programs sponsored by external organizations and occurring on campus or in University facilities.

III.  Definitions

A.  Minor:  A person under the age of eighteen who is not enrolled or accepted for enrollment at the University. Students who are "dually enrolled" in University programs while also enrolled in elementary, middle, or high school are not included in this policy unless such enrollment includes a residential component in University housing.

B.  Youth Athlete:  An individual who participates in an athletic activity and who is under 18 years of age.

C.  Youth Athletic Activity: A program or event, including practices and competition, during which youth athletes participate or practice to participate in an organized athletic game or competition against another team, club, entity, or individual.

D.  Youth Program:  Any class, camp, program, or other learning activity that includes participation by minors. The term "youth program" does not include (1) private, personal events (e.g., birthday parties, weddings) that occur at University facilities, or (2) events open to the general public (e.g., intercollegiate athletic events, concerts, Wharton Center events).

IV.  Criminal Background Checks

A.  Requirements

All individuals who have unsupervised access to minors at a youth program must have been subject to a criminal background check (including sex offender registry check) through the Human Resources Department within the last twelve months.

An external organization sponsoring a youth program on campus or using MSU facilities for a youth program must certify that all adults working or volunteering at the program have been subject to a criminal background check (including sex offender registry check) within the last twelve months.

B.  Exceptions

    1. MSU students hosting siblings or other family members during campus events (e.g., sibling weekend) are not required to have a criminal background check.
    2. MSU students hosting high school students as part of a pre-enrollment visit for prospective students are not required to have a criminal background check.
    3. MSU students who attend a youth program in order to work or volunteer under the direct supervision of a MSU employee are not required to have a criminal background check. 
    4. Individuals under the age of 18 who volunteer or work under the direct supervision of a MSU employee are not required to have a criminal background check.
    5. External organizations using MSU facilities open to the general public are not required to provide certification of criminal background checks, even if minors are present.
    6. Youth programs that involve large numbers of one-time volunteers are exempt from the criminal background check requirement for volunteers if the volunteers work only in public spaces and with supervision by a full-time University employee. Such youth programs are required to compile a list of all volunteers prior to the event, check the names of all volunteers against the Michigan sex offender registry database, and require photo identification from volunteers at the start of the program.

C.  Criminal Background Check and Sex Offender Registry Results

The following types of convictions will normally render an individual ineligible to work or volunteer at a University youth program:

    1. Drug distribution activity or felony drug possession
    2. Sexual offenses
    3. Crimes of violence involving physical injury to another person
    4. Child abuse, molestation or other crimes involving child endangerment
    5. Murder
    6. Kidnapping
    7. Any other felony or crime involving moral turpitude

Individuals who have unsupervised access to minors at a youth program may generally not be listed on any sex offender registry.

Individuals who do not have satisfactory criminal background check results will be provided with an opportunity to explain the results and give clarifying information to Human Resources before a final decision regarding eligibility is made.

V.  Operational Requirements.

A.  Program Handbook. Units sponsoring a youth program must develop and distribute a program handbook to participants and their parents/legal guardians. The program handbook must include the following information:

1. Procedures for notifying a minor's parent/legal guardian in case of emergency, including medical or behavioral situations.

2. Information for parents/legal guardians on how to contact the participant during the program.

3. Program rules, including conduct expectations, for participants in the program, including the fact that participants must abide by all University regulations and may be removed from the program for violation of such rules. Program rules must include the following:

  • Prohibition against the possession or use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, fireworks, guns, and other weapons.
  • Rules about when participants may leave campus during the program.
  • Clear statement that no violence of any kind will be tolerated.
  • Clear statement that sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and other sexually inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated.
  • Clear statement that harassment in violation of the University Anti-Discrimination Policy will not be tolerated.
  • Clear statement that hazing and bullying (physical, verbal, or cyber-bullying) will not be tolerated.
  • Statement that misuse or damage of University property is prohibited and participants may be financially responsible for damage or misuse of University property.
  • Prohibition against cameras and other digital recording devices in showers, restrooms, locker rooms, and other areas where privacy is expected by participants.

4. A description of the process to be followed if a participant, group leader, or other individual associated with a youth program is alleged to have violated University policies or conduct rules of the program, including the process for dismissal and removal from the program.

5. A description of the process to be utilized for the parent, legal guardian, or other responsible adult to pick up the participant if he/she is dismissed from the program early.

6.  Housing specific policies, if applicable, addressing:

  1. Curfew time that is age-appropriate for participants;
  2. In-room visitation by participants of the opposite gender;
  3. Visitation by non-participant guests; and
  4. Whether separate accommodations are provided for adults and minors.

7.  Inclusion of the University’s model statements describing how requests for accommodation may be made for participants with disabilities.[1]  

B.  Program Requirements. Units are expected to adhere to the following program requirements when conducting youth programs:

    1. Utilize the standard medical treatment authorization form for all participants.[2]
    2. Utilize the standard media release and parent/guardian consent form for all program participants as part of the registration process.
    3. Provide adequate supervision for minors during the program. In determining the appropriate level of supervision, the program will consider the number and age of participants, the activities involved, and the age and experience of staff / volunteers.

C.  Annual Staff Training. Units are expected to provide annual training to program staff and volunteers that addresses the following topics:

    1. Program responsibilities and expectations
    2. Program policies and procedures
    3. What to do in the event of a crises or emergency
    4. Safety and security precautions
    5. Prohibited harassment and reporting obligations
    6. University reporting protocols for suspected child abuse, sexual assault, or child pornography

D.  Participant Orientation. Units are expected to provide orientation to participants that addresses the following topics:

    1. Program safety and security procedures
    2. University rules, program rules, and behavioral expectations
    3. University reporting protocols for suspected child abuse and sexual assault

E.  Conduct Rules for Youth Program Staff and Volunteers.  Units are expected to notify program staff and volunteers of applicable program rules, including conduct expectations. Program staff and volunteers must abide by all University regulations and may be removed from the program for violation of such rules. Program rules for program staff and volunteers must include the following:

    1. Whether it is appropriate and under what circumstances adults may have one-on-one contact with minors and the minimum number of adults who must be present during activities where minors are present.
    2. Adults may have no personal, non-programmatic related electronic communications with participants (email, phone, text, Face Book, etc.) during the youth program.
    3. Adults may not take pictures of minors or post information about minors to social media sites without permission from a parent/guardian.
    4. Adults may not meet participants off-site or off-hours.
    5. Adults may not give personal gifts to participants.
    6. Adults may not possess, consume, or be under the influence of alcohol, medical marijuana, or illegal drugs at any time the adult has responsibility for minor participants.
    7. Adults may not possess a firearm or other weapon at any time during the youth program.

F.  Reporting Protocols. Youth program staff, volunteers, and other individuals associated with a youth program must adhere to University protocols for reporting child abuse, sexual assault, and child pornography.  [3]

G.  Transportation of Minors.  Units operating a youth program that involves transportation of minors must comply with the following requirements:

    1. University employees and volunteers that transport minors must have been subject to a Michigan driver records check[4] within the last twelve months.[5]
    2. Although the use of private vehicles for transporting minors should be avoided, when private vehicles must be used, drivers must have automobile liability insurance.
    3. More than one adult must be present in the vehicle except when there are multiple minors for the duration of the transportation.

H.  Concussion Awareness. Units operating a youth athletic activity must comply with the requirements of the Michigan sports concussion law.[6]

VI. History

This document was issued by the Office of the President on August 12, 2013, and revised on October 15, 2013, April 18, 2014, September 22, 2014, and May 4, 2017.

Model Forms:

[1] The University’s model statements can be found at https://www.rcpd.msu.edu/services/accommodations.

[2] Programs may use alternate forms if they are approved by the Office of the General Counsel.

[3] The University’s policy, University Reporting Protocols:  Child Abuse, Sexual, Assault, and Child Pornography, details reporting requirements for University employees and volunteers, and can be found at https://hr.msu.edu/policies-procedures/university-wide/reporting_protocols.html.

[4] The Michigan Driver Record Request Form can be found at http://www.rmi.msu.edu/form/michigandriverrecordrequest.html.

[5] Drivers must have a valid driver’s license; not have had three or more convictions for moving violations within the past 36 months; not have been convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident, driving with a suspended license or reckless driving within the past 36 months; and not have been convicted of obtaining a vehicle unlawfully, possessing a stolen vehicle, or using a vehicle in a crime or in connection with an unlawful act.

[6] A detailed description of the Michigan sports concussion law and a compliance checklist can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,4612,7-132-54783_63943---,00.html.

Revision History:

10/15/2013 - Added provision regarding compliance with the state's sports concussion law.

10/21/2013 - Added link to Background Check Authorization Form

04/18/2014 - Clarification of policy exemptions.

09/22/2014 - Clarification to policy title and applicability to University youth programs

05/4/2017 - Clarification of policy applicability to off-campus University youth programs

05/4/2017 - Clarification of applicability of, and added link to, University’s Reporting Protocols for Reporting Child Abuse, Sexual assault, and Child Pornography

05/4/2017 - Added provisions regarding transportation of minors and driving record checks, and link to Michigan Driver Record Request Form

05/4/2017 - Added provision requiring statement about how to request accommodations and link to model statement

05/4/2017 - Expanded criminal background check requirement to anyone who has unsupervised access to minors at a youth program