Youth Programs’ Check-Out Policies and Procedures

Check-out time for youth programs can be a chaotic and high-risk time. To make sure that all youth are getting home safely, it is important to have strong policies and procedures in place. Below are some recommendations for creating robust, effective and actionable check-out protocols:

  • All youth should be consistently checked out of the program via the official procedure and protocols.
  • Consider having all youth be checked out through one individual, like the front desk, office manager, or a designated position, in order to maintain consistency.
Staff Onboarding & Communication 
  • Onboard all new staff on your policies and procedures.
  • Regularly communicate with staff about the protocols and update them as changes are made.
Registration & Documentation  
  • Officially register all youth in your programming. Update and print rosters weekly or as new youth are added.
  • Equip all buses with printed rosters, emergency contact information and approved pick-up lists. Only rely on your online system for back up or for convenience. Printed materials should always be required in the event that the online system fails or internet connection is lost.
  • Roster and roll sheets are legal documents. Therefore, make sure that staff understand that they should be treated with care and turned in at the end of each day for documentation. Do not doodle, take notes on rosters or have anyone other than staff members complete, alter or have access to rosters/roll sheets.
  • Create a check-out authorization form for parents/guardians to complete. This form should include who can pick up the child, and it should also identify anyone that is not authorized to pick up the child but may try to.
  • Create a pick up card that indicates that someone is authorized to pick up a child.
  • When a youth is being picked up, check their authorization form and compare that with their photo ID.
Oversight & Evaluation 
  • We know that transition periods are particularly high risk for youth-serving community organizations. That’s why it is important that check-out procedures are supervised and evaluated each day. Name the individual who is responsible for that supervision and evaluation, and make this part of their job description and performance standards.
  • Have leadership or other staff members do regular spot checks to ensure that policies and protocols are being followed consistently.
Potential Challenges/Obstacles
  • If a parent/guardian doesn’t show up to pick up their child, make sure your organization has protocols in place. For example, you will want to make sure that two staff are present at check-out times to avoid situations where a child is left alone with a staff member.
  • If permission or identification of the adult trying to pick up the youth cannot be verified, staff should follow these protocols:
    • Make a call to:
      • The front desk/main office to confirm what is on the original registration form
      • Your supervisor (or next person in chain of command) to ask what to do
    • If there is nothing on the form, or if what is on the form does not match the situation presented, staff must contact the primary parent/guardian and request changes to the pick-up list. These changes/updates must be made in writing. (A text message is ok, but take a screenshot and save it in the child’s file.)
    • Calmly let the adult know that he/she is not on the pick-up list and that he/she will not be able to pick-up until we receive a change to the pick-up list in writing.
    • Have staff practice responsiveness in order to prevent the situation from escalating. If the situation does escalate, call authorities and engage the help of additional staff members or leadership if available.