University Community - Human Resources at Ohio State
Protection of Minors
Information for the University Community
The Activities and Programs with Minor Participants policy applies to Ohio State faculty, staff, appointees, students, student employees, graduate associates and volunteers directly working with minors in activities and programs.
To determine if your activity or program is an activity or program with minors, answer the questions below:
Question 1: Is this an activity or program with minors?
To be considered an activity or program with minors, university programs must meet all of the following criteria:
- Is it operated, conducted or organized by the university?
- Even if you work within a partnership, is there enough oversight that one might consider this to be OSU-sponsored? If you have control over the staffing, programming, etc, it is likely that you meet this prong.
- Does it include minors?
- Are parents and guardians not expected to be responsible for the care, custody or control of the minors?
- Note that guardians would mean legal guardians, so this does not include teachers. If this is a general event, you likely expect parents and guardians to be responsible for their children or to make appropriate arrangements so general events open to the public do not fall within scope.
- If you do expect parents and guardians to be present and want to make expectations clear, you can use this policy language in your promotional materials: Ohio State expects parents or guardians to provide supervision over minors on campus unless they are involved in an activity or program with minors. Parents or guardians should not leave minors unsupervised on university property.
Action Item: Registration*
If you answered yes to all three criteria, then you fall within scope of the policy and need to register the activity or program. Register the activity/program before the start of the program. This is very high-level information being requested, so timelines do not have to be exact if they are not known. Program registration is an annual requirement.
*4-H programs register in 4-H Online and do not need to use the link provided here. If you have any questions, please contact your Associate State Leader.
Question 2: Does Ohio State hold “care, custody or control?”
Care, custody or control responsibility is defined as “when an adult(s) is present and has primary responsibility for supervision of minors at any given point throughout the activity or program with minors.”
Who is making decisions for the minor, calling home if someone gets hurt, breaking up arguments, etc? If that person is an Ohio State faculty, staff, appointee, student, student employee, graduate associate and/or volunteer, then you need to follow the “care, custody or control requirements” below. If that responsibility falls to someone not affiliated with the university, then you still fall within scope of the policy but will follow the “non-care, custody, control requirements” below.
Please note that it is possible to have a mix of responsibilities within the same program. Supervisors may hold care, custody or control while program staff do not, for example. Also, please note that the policy requires minors to be supervised at all times. It is suggested that more than one person have the care, custody or control responsibility to allow greater flexibility.
Care, custody or control requirements and action steps:
- Personnel must obtain a fingerprint background check. In general, this is required every four years. Review the background check resource guide for guidance. Note that this is different from the university’s employment background check.
- Complete policy training at Buckeye Learn, which takes about 30 minutes and is good for a year. Click “learning,” “browse trainings,” select “Activities and Programs with Minor Participants [applicable year] Policy Training.”
- Sign the “Standards of Behavior for Employees/Volunteers” annually. Note that this includes a general prohibition on one-on-one interactions with minors.
Non-care, custody or control requirements and action steps:
- Receive and review Activities and Programs with Minor Participants Resources – Policy 1.50 Training
- Sign the “Standards of Behavior for Employees/Volunteers” on the back of the training handout. Note that this includes a general prohibition on one-on-one interactions.
Administrators of activities and programs with minor participants must also maintain records of staff background checks and training. Templates are available to help you maintain records, including a tracking spreadsheet and a checklist of responsibilities.
Ohio State community members can use the many resources available for the Activities and Programs with Minor Participants policy. The available resources include a guide to the background check process, training instructions, registration information, relevant forms and other helpful tools.
View the full list of policy resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please refer to the outline above. A common misconception is that if Ohio State employees are not responsible for the “care, custody, or control,” then the policy does not apply, but that could be incorrect. Any activity or program with minors as defined above and in the policy falls within scope and must be registered, and those working in the activity or program must sign standards of behavior. “Care, custody, control” responsibilities dictate which training is received and if background checks are needed.
If the activity meets the three prongs of the definition for “activity or program with minors,” the policy applies. A simple visit to a facility is not likely to meet the definition, but other trips may suffice, depending on if the university is operating, conducting or organizing the trip. If the teacher maintains responsibility of the children and is present during the program, the teacher would serve in the “care, custody, or control” role. This would then be treated as an activity or program with minors, but the university personnel would not hold “care, custody, or control” responsibilities.
“One-on-one interactions” should not be planned or intentional. However, situations do arise which may require an individual to be alone with a minor. While individuals should take precautions to prevent being one-on-one with a minor (bring another adult with them, handle the situation in a public, open space, etc), if an emergency warrants such an interaction, the interaction should be as brief as possible, and program directors or supervisors should be alerted as soon as possible to ensure that all parties are aware of what occurred.
Remember: Two calls and one report. If “child abuse or neglect” is witnessed or there is imminent danger, the first call is immediately to 911 and the second call is to University Police (even if the reporter is not on Columbus campus). The “report” is the internal incident report due to the Office of Human Resources within one business day. If there is not imminent danger, the first call is either to Children Services or the local peace officer, the second call is to University Police (even if the reporter is not on Columbus campus), and the internal incident report is due to the Office of Human Resources within one business day. View the reporting flowchart for complete information.
Please view the background check resource guide for instructions on obtaining background checks. This documents outlines the process for those coming to the Office of Human Resources, other in-state agencies or out-of-state agencies.
It is up to each college or business unit to decide at what level paperwork needs to be maintained. Some colleges choose to maintain documents at the college level, while other colleges choose to maintain documentation at the department or program level. Activity and program directors should work with their Human Resource Professional to figure out who is best positioned to be responsible for maintaining relevant documentation.