If you have school-age children, then it’s likely you’ve already started mapping out your summer plans. In fact, you’ve probably been reviewing camp schedules and rec department brochures since January.
Working parents, especially, turn to summer camps and classes to entertain and educate their kids during the summer. While you likely spend a lot of time assessing camp structure and curriculum – full or half day, STEM or arts, overnight or day camp – how much time do you spend researching the safety protocols of these camps?
You’re entrusting your child to summer camps or other kid-focused classes, and you want to be sure these programs have taken the proper steps toward safety and staff screening.
So,take a moment to ask the following questions before you leave your children at camp to help keep them safe.
- Does the program conduct background checks on all employees?
- How is staff screened?
- Does the agency/program have a policy in place that no child is to be left alone with an adult?
- Does the camp have ACA accreditation? The American Camp Association evaluates the camp’s safety, health, program and camp operations.
- What is the ratio of staff to children?
- What kind of training do staff members receive to keep children safe?
- Does this camp have a child protection policy regarding how they report suspected abuse?
- Does the policy mandate reporting to all authorities?
- How does the camp handle emergencies?
No parent wants to even think about their child being a victim of abuse during a summer camp or activity, but the startling reality is that more than 4,000 children are sexually abused, sexually assaulted, or physically abused every year in Charleston County alone.
To better serve these children and families, and to focus on abuse prevention, Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center is adding a second location in Mount Pleasant. The new facility at 677 Long Point Road is expected to open in early 2018, reaching an underserved sector of the Charleston region.
Thousands of children in the community experience some form of interpersonal violence each year. The current center on King Street in downtown Charleston is at capacity. Yet the issue of abuse is dramatically growing.
Projections show the need for Dee Norton’s services doubling in 20 years. Without an immediate expansion in services, children are at risk. Today, the center serves 99 percent of children living on the peninsula and in North Charleston who reach out for help, but serves only 36 percent of the children who need help in East Cooper and 21 percent of children on Daniel Island and Cainhoy.
“The situation is urgent,” says Dr. Carole Swiecicki, executive director and CEO of Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center. “This problem will increase exponentially as our area continues to grow. We are so thankful for our partnership with the City of Charleston who provides our current location. However, unless we are proactive, one out of two children will not receive the help they need and deserve.”
For the last 25 years the center has helped more than 26,000 children and their families through expert, comprehensive care. Children can, and do, heal from abuse. More than 90 percent of children helped by the center show no clinically significant trauma symptoms after treatment.
In addition to growing its physical presence in the community, the center has been renamed the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center. The change is a reflection of the center’s efforts to expand awareness of its core mission: prevent abuse, protect children and heal families.
To learn more about Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center and how you can support their mission, visit DeeNortonCenter.org.