After School Programs: Managing Risks and Limiting Liabilities

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With a life-threatening peanut allergy, Mason Machiewicz’s mom, Alissa, keeps a strict peanut-free home. Having just completed her search for a private kindergarten program for Mason in the fall, Alissa paid close attention to programs’ food safety policies and practices. Organizations that did not have emergency allergy plans posted in classrooms, detailed staff policies for identifying and handling food allergies, staff training on the signs of an allergic reaction and a written food-allergy policy that is shared with parents were not given serious consideration, she said. Educational enrichment was obviously an important deciding factor, she added, but her son’s safety was her first priority.

Educational and enrichment programs “are essential to keep kids safe, engage children in enriching activities, and give peace of mind to moms and dads during the out-of-school hours,” according to the After School Alliance, which notes that 15.1 million U.S. school-aged children are unattended after school and could use after-school programming. Yet, to maintain and grow a successful educational or enrichment program requires not only an engaging and effective activity but also sound policies and procedures that identify and limit risks and potential liabilities. Risk management is an area organizations can’t afford to ignore. 

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