Youth Program Procedures

Program Registration and Authorization
Program Staffing
Background Checks
Enrollment and Documentation
Health and Medical

Program Registration and Authorization

Please visit Youth Program Registration for information and instructions to register a program.

Program Staffing

The program leader must:

  • Attend registered youth program events or provide a faculty or Professional & Scientific (P&S) staff designee. Undergraduate, graduate and post-doc students are not eligible to act as supervisor or program leader of youth programs.
  • Select program staff (both paid and volunteer) with appropriate experience, qualifications and training based upon the age of the participants and the nature of the program.
  • Evaluate the ratio of adult program supervisors (18 years of age or older) to program participants. The number of chaperones recommended is determined by age and special needs.

Authorized adult supervision ratios (American Camp Association guidelines)

  • 5 years and younger: 1 staff for every 5 overnight participants and 1 staff for every 6 day participants
  • 6-8 years: 1:6 for overnight and1:8 for day
  • 9-14 years: 1:8 for overnight and 1:10 for day
  • 15-17 years 1:10 for overnight and 1:12 for day

Background Checks

Background check requests should be submitted at least three weeks prior to the start date of the program to allow adequate time for processing and approval. Background checks for individuals working or volunteering for youth programs are valid for one year and then must be resubmitted.

All faculty, staff, students, or volunteers must have an approved background check through University Human Resources or ORM on file prior to:

  • Interaction with youth in a public/group setting when University activity is specifically offered for children
  • Supervisory responsibilities for youth participants or youth programs
  • Involvement in an overnight youth program
  • Unsupervised or one-on-one contact with a youth participant
  • Interaction involving physical contact (i.e. sports, dance, etc.)
  • Performing driving responsibilities for youth programs (which requires a motor vehicle record check prior to picking up keys to the vehicle for use in the program)
  • Involvement by anyone for whom state law requires a criminal background check (mandatory reporters such as teachers, medical professionals, etc.)

Youth program leaders must verify employee/volunteer eligibility to interact with youth by submitting staff information in Cy Check. No employee or volunteer may begin involvement with the youth program until the program leader has received approval from ORM.

An individual who has been convicted of an offense for which they must register with the Iowa or National Sex Offender Registry may not serve in any capacity for an ISU youth program or any youth program held on ISU property.


  1. A program leader must be identified for all youth activities, pre-collegiate programs and camps.
  2. Program leaders should attend Youth Program Leader Training.
  3. Program leaders are responsible to plan for and require the proper care and supervision of youth participants.
    • Schedule all program time to create minimal or no free unsupervised time. The program leader should consider potential risk of any free unsupervised time.
    • Design program elements to minimize escalation of competition into conflict and/or fighting.
    • Assign age-appropriate supervisory responsibilities to authorized adults.
    • Develop and document a general safety plan, and include the plan in staff and participant orientation. For higher-risk activities (water activities, strenuous sports, use of special equipment, etc.) more specific planning and training should be documented.
    • Establish procedures for managing the situation if a participant is missing/absent/unaccounted for during program activities (e.g. who should be informed, at what point should security or police authorities be contacted, when parents will be notified).
    • Develop an incident reporting plan to assure completion of Incident Reports to document emergencies, medical incidents and participant misconduct.
    • Develop a protocol for staff to access contact information for parents or guardians of participants in the event of an emergency—both at and away from the main program area.
    • Develop a protocol for appropriate staff access to participant Medical Information and Treatment Permission Forms.
    • EH&S must review and approve youth activities in high risk areas. This approval must be received by the Office Risk Management prior to preparing participant and parental permission agreements. This applies to activities covered by Children in the Workplace, Youth Activities, Pre-Collegiate Programs and Camps, and Volunteers policies.
    • For all activities or events involving the use of live animals on campus, an Animal Use Request must be submitted and approved by the Non-academic Use of Animals Committee. The use of animals in an academic or research program at ISU is subject to approval through the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
  4. Program leaders must provide orientation training for youth activity staff, volunteers and participants.
    • Discuss inclement weather procedures.
    • Provide appropriate emergency medical training for key staff and provide first aid kits.
    • Provide program leader contact information to be used in event of any medical or emergency incident.
    • For other than key staff, provide an orientation on medical and emergency protocols, including the names of key staff to contact for any medical or emergency incident.
    • Provide orientation on applicable university policies, regulations, and guidelines; and local, state and federal laws concerning health, safety, and public order. Policies include those listed on the right of this page. All staff and volunteers should complete Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Training.
    • Brief participants on expectations and possible sanctions regarding conduct (e.g. hazing, horseplay, pranks, etc.).
    • Inform participants about who to see or contact if they have an emergency (i.e. accident, injury, loss, policy issues, etc.).
    • Cell phone use - photos or videos of participants may be taken (for program use only) if parental permission has been documented. Limit cell phone use - youth participants, staff and volunteers should not share cell phone numbers to call, text, take photos or communicate on social media sites. Communication should always be between the program leader and the parent of the participant.
    • Social Media - Youth program staff and volunteers should not interact with youth through social media sites.

Enrollment and Documentation

  1. Develop enrollment materials that include appropriate disclosures about the nature of the program, including requirements for participation.
  2. Every youth program participant and parent/guardian must complete a Participation and Parental Permission Agreement. ORM's Youth and Volunteer Programs Manager provides a template for this agreement, which can be modified to your program needs.
  3. Individuals assisting with the program who are not paid are considered volunteers and must comply with the Volunteers Policy, including completion of a Volunteer Agreement prior to interaction with youth. Contact the Youth and Volunteer Programs Manager or see the ORM Volunteers pages for more information.
  4. Individuals who sustain an injury, accident or property loss during a youth program should work with the program leader to complete an Incident Report.
  5. Retain participation agreements and waivers until youth participants have reached 20 years of age. Retention is the responsibility of the sponsoring department/unit.

Health and Medical

  1. Obtain appropriate medical release and permission for treatment forms for participants (available through ORM).
  2. As appropriate for the specific youth activity, collect participant information for special medical considerations: e.g., food allergies, insect stings or bites, allergic reactions, activity restrictions, injuries sustained prior to program participation that might be aggravated or re-injured while participating in program activities, possession or use of prescription medication, allergic reactions to medications. For competitive applicants or limited enrollments, this information should be collected only after participant selection is made.
  3. Ensure security of participants' medical information.
  4. Follow up to ensure that appropriate action is taken (providing alternative foods and taking other preventative measures to avoid exposure when allergies are noted; ensuring arrangements are made to prevent contact in the case of severe allergies).
  5. Establish and communicate rules related to securing, dispensing, refrigerating, storing, and returning participants' medications.


  1. Obtain ISU Department of Residence housing (for overnight stays) or arrange for approval by ORM for alternate housing (agreements and background checks are required for home-stay hosts of youth).
  2. Restrict access to the participant housing area.
  3. Provide instruction on security, loss prevention, and other housing-related safety and security issues.
  4. Instruct participants about exit locations, procedures, and common meeting or reporting areas in the event of an emergency.
  5. Determine appropriate number of participants assigned to sleeping areas/spaces with consideration to gender and age.
  6. Establish appropriate curfew and communicate to participants; determine process to account for all participants at curfew, lights out, or other pre-determined times in the day or evening.
  7. Brief participants on safety provisions specific to the facility in which they are housed (i.e., prohibitions to sitting in windows, on ledges, and railing of high-rise buildings).


      1. Establish rules for transporting participants to and from the program location at the beginning and end of the program (e.g., parental permission required for non-parent, non-guardian persons to transport children to and from the program; person(s) to whom small children may be released).  Staff are not allowed to have one-on-one interaction when transporting youth for a youth program.
      2. Assess transportation needs for participants during program.
        • ISU Sponsored, Endorsed or ISU Athletics youth programs should only use ISU Transportation Services vehicles.
        • Review weather conditions prior to and during travel.
        • Arrange for appropriate loading and unloading sites for buses, vans, and/or cars to avoid participant loading and unloading in or around traffic.
      3. When using university vehicles, comply with the following:
        • All drivers must have a satisfactory motor vehicle record check completed by ORM.
        • Drivers must be at least 20 years of age and successfully complete Large Passenger Van and Vehicles Towing Trailers classroom training and behind-the-wheel training through ISU Transportation Services if they will be driving 15-passenger vans or vehicles towing trailers.
        • Drivers must have a valid U.S. driver's license and successfully complete an annual motor vehicle record check.
        • Provide orientation on the university Fleet Safety and Vehicle Use/Rental policy and related rules.
        • Personal vehicles must not be used to transport participants of Sponsored or ISU Athletics youth programs. The university will not reimburse an employee, or other private owner, or their insurer for any deductible or liability claim paid by their personal auto insurance policy, or for any damage to the vehicle.