|Applies to:||Original Policy Date:||Date of Last Review:||Approved by:|
|Faculty, staff, students, contractors, volunteers, and visitors||August 4, 2020||August 2023||Ryan Petersen|
Policy Owner: Office of Compliance and Risk Management
To promote the health, safety, and welfare of Minors on university owned or controlled property, using university facilities, and participating in university programs and activities, this policy outlines rules, requirements, duties, and responsibilities related to Minors and programs intended for Minors, including proper reporting of known or suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect as required by university policy and Florida state law.
This policy applies to all members of the university community, including employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and students, working or interacting with Minors in a program or activity sponsored or operated by the university in any location, and to all third parties conducting or working with programs involving Minors on university owned or controlled property.
Florida Tech is committed to promoting the health, safety, and welfare of Minors in its programs, facilities, and associated activities and establishes expectations, procedures, and guidelines to support this, as outlined in this policy.
Admitted and Enrolled Students
Florida Tech admits students without regard to age. A signed release and assumption of risk statement from a parent or legal guardian is required for students who are under 18 at the time of matriculation unless the student is an emancipated Minor.
To be eligible to reside in campus housing an applicant must be a minimum of 17 years old. Further, if the student is 17 at the time residency is taken, they must turn 18 during the first year of residence to be eligible for campus housing. Exceptions for special circumstances will be considered by the University Events and Protocol Office and the Office of the Dean of Students. Enrolled students who are minors and live in university housing are expected to follow the same rules as all other residents. A signed release and assumption of risk statement from a parent or legal guardian is required for minor students living in housing unless the student is an emancipated Minor.
Programs, Activities, and Events Involving Minors
Programs designed or intended for minors who have not enrolled at Florida Tech must be approved, staffed, and operated in accordance with policy procedures and guidelines unless the program is an exempt program as defined in this policy. This includes university programs, whether on or off campus, and third-party sponsored programs on university owned or controlled property.
Minors must be supervised at all times by an Authorized Adult while participating in such programs. Minors visiting campus for reasons other than programs as identified by this policy shall be under the sole supervision of that minor’s parent or guardian, who are exclusively responsible for a minor’s supervision, safety and actions, and who may not ask another person within the university community to accept responsibility for the child while on campus. Florida Tech’s campus and programs are not a replacement for childcare services and the university cannot and does not accept liability or responsibility for minors on campus for purposes other than programs as defined herein.
All university employees, contractors, students, and volunteers must adhere to university policies and local, state, and federal law regarding Minors.
Under Florida state law, any person who knows of, or has reasonable cause to suspect, child abuse, abandonment, or neglect must report this to the state. Even if a report is made to university security and/or administration, report must be made directly to the state as well. This applies in any instance involving a Minor under the age of 18, regardless of whether the Minor is an admitted or enrolled student.
All university faculty, employees, contractors, and Authorized Adults as defined in this policy are Mandatory Reporters who have a duty to report any incident or suspected incident of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect to university security and to the Florida Department of Children and Family Services Abuse Hotline immediately. See contact information herein under Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse, Abandonment and Neglect section.
Admitted and Enrolled Students
A signed release and assumption of risk statement from a parent or legal guardian is required for students who are under 18 at the time of enrollment unless the student is an emancipated Minor.
Requests for exceptions to the minimum age of 17 for university housing may be made to the Office of the Dean of Students. A key guideline is that in general, students are adults; student housing is therefore not always appropriate for unsupervised Minors and the university environment does not provide parental substitutes. In cases of exception, prior to signing a housing agreement a meeting of the student and parent/legal guardian with the Assistant Vice President for Housing and the Director of Residence Life is required to review expectations and determine appropriate housing, medical release, or other requirements.
Programs, Activities, and Events Involving Minors
Activities, events, and programs that are designed or intended for Minors who are not matriculated students must be approved in advance by the Office of Compliance and Risk Management and staffed and operated in accordance with these guidelines.
This includes activities, events, and programs that are sponsored by the university, whether they take place on or off campus, those that are sponsored by third parties and take place on university owned or controlled property, and those that are associated with the university through use of university facilities or resources.
Programs wishing to use university facilities must also obtain approval from the the Office of University Events and Protocol (email@example.com) as applicable.
Program/Activity Leaders for activities, events, or programs covered by this policy must submit required information to the Office of Compliance and Risk Management for review and approval at least 30-60 days prior to the activity, event, or program.
- Program name and description
- Dates, times, and locations where Minors will be participating
- Name, email address and telephone number for the Program/Activity Leader
- Name, email address and telephone number of all adults who will have either direct contact with Minors or access to personal information concerning Minors.
- A health and safety proposal, indicating how the program will respond to emergency situations such as inclement weather, a missing Minor, and illness or injuries. This must also include a plan for proper storage and distribution of participants’ medicines (if applicable) and establish any additional necessary protocols regarding the good health of Minor participants.
Non-University entities use of university facilities for programs involving minors requires approval from the Office of Compliance and Risk Management and from University Events and Protocol. The Responsible Party must execute a Facility Use Agreement and provide proof of primary and excess insurance coverage for acts of sexual abuse or molestation committed by its representatives, employees and volunteers in an amount of not less than $1 million dollars per occurrence with a $2 million aggregate amount and $3 million dollar excess/umbrella coverage for the policy period. A Certificate of Insurance (COI) must be provided to the Office of Compliance and Risk Management and to Procurement Management ten days before use of facilities begins.
Additional insurance specific to a university-sponsored program or event involving Minors may be necessary. Programs should check with the Office of Compliance and Risk Management for more information.
Adults who will have direct contact with Minors or access to personal information concerning Minors through their involvement in a program covered by this policy, or who supervise such a program, must undergo a background check and complete training before the adult is permitted to engage with minors or to perform any services related to a Program involving minors.
The Program/Activity Leader must ensure that all adults who will have either direct contact with Minors or access to personal information concerning Minors complete background check requirements.
Background checks include:
- Criminal offenses for which an individual has been convicted, pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor, or where such charges are currently pending. Generally, the offenses checked will be those listed in Chapter 435 of the Florida Statutes. The university may limit or expand the offenses subject to any background check.
- Sex offender registry search.
For Florida Tech programs covered by this policy, background checks for personnel will be conducted in accordance with the university’s Background Checks Policy. Except where required by law, criminal background checks of University faculty, staff, students and volunteers that are conducted pursuant to this Policy will be used only for purposes of confirming that the subject does not possess a criminal background that poses a risk to minors. The results will otherwise be kept confidential and maintained separately from the individual's personnel or student file.
The Office of Human Resources will maintain a roster of individuals who have been cleared and approved to participate in Florida Tech programs involving Minors and the dates on which a new background check will be required. A new background check is required at least every two years.
Volunteers such as guest speakers and presenters who are expected to contribute less than 10 hours of time per month are exempt from the criminal background check requirements, as long as a person who meets the background screening requirement is always present and has the volunteer within sight.
Disqualification of personnel on the basis of the background check:
- Any person who has been convicted of or has pending charges pertaining to any of the disqualifying offenses listed in Florida Statutes Chapter 435 shall be immediately disqualified from participating in any program involving Minors.
- Any person who fails to comply with background screening shall be automatically disqualified.
For Florida Tech programs, a decision not to permit an individual to participate in a program or activity covered by this policy based on the results of a background check will be made by Office of Compliance and Risk Management after consultation with the appropriate Vice President and/or university legal counsel.
Non-university entities must certify in a contract provision that they have conducted background checks equivalent to or above the State of Florida Level 2 Standard for all of its employees and volunteers who will be interacting with minors, and their supervisors, and that individuals are disqualified in accordance with this policy. This applies whether the non-university entity is involved with a university or non-university program.
Adults must complete required training before they are permitted to participate in programs involving Minors.
- Orientation training covering Standards of Behavior and program health and safety.
- Other training as deemed necessary by the Office of Compliance and Risk Management (for example, the Camps on Campus online training course).
Non-university entities must certify in a contract provision that all of their employees and volunteers who will be interacting with minors, and their supervisors, have completed training comparable to that which the university requires for its personnel.
Required Documents for Program Personnel
- Self-disclosure form: All Authorized Adults must also complete a self-disclosure form confirming that they have disclosed any arrests and/or convictions that have occurred since the date of a background check and/or clearance and will disclose any arrest and/or convictions within 72 hours of their occurrence.
- Health and Liability Waiver Form: Authorized Adults must complete and submit the Health and Liability Waiver Form to the Office of Compliance and Risk Management before participating with the program. No activities under any program as defined in this policy may proceed before these forms are on file.
- The program must collect, at a minimum, the following participant Information:
- Name, gender, and age of the participant
- Address and phone number of parent or legal guardian
- Emergency contact information
- The Health and Liability Waiver Form and Medical Treatment Authorization Form must be completed by every program participant’s parent or legal guardian and submitted to the Office of Compliance and Risk Management prior to the start date. No activities under any program as defined in this policy may proceed before these forms are on file.
Non-university entities must provide properly executed university-approved waiver of liability forms for all participating minors to the university.
Information that must be provided to participants
- Details for how the participant can be contacted during the program
- Program Rules - During the registration process, the program must provide program rules to the participant, including the following:
- Rules and procedures governing when and under what circumstances participants may leave university property or program facilities during the program.
- Parking of staff and participant vehicles must be in accordance with University parking regulations.
- Violence, sexual abuse or harassment, hazing of any kind, and bullying – including verbal, physical and cyber bullying – is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated.
- Use of tobacco or vaping products is prohibited.
- Possession or use of alcohol and other drugs, fireworks, guns and other weapons is prohibited.
- Misuse, damage or theft of university property is prohibited. Charges will be assessed against participants responsible for damage, misuse, or theft of university property.
- The inappropriate use of cameras, imaging, and digital devices is prohibited, including use of such devices in showers, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected by participants.
- Suspected criminal activity involving program participants or staff will be reported to the Department of Security (or local law enforcement, in the case of off-campus programs).
Use of University Housing for Non-Exempt Programs
If applicable, each program must adopt and implement rules and regulations for proper supervision of Minors in University Housing. The following must be included:
- Written permission, signed by the parent/legal guardian, for the Minor to reside in University Housing. Registration for an overnight camp where the fact that Minors will reside in University Housing is stated in writing as part of the registration process will satisfy this requirement.
- A curfew time must be established which is age-appropriate for the participants.
- In-room visitation among participants must be restricted to participants of the same gender.
- Guests of participants (other than a parent/legal guardian and other program participants) are restricted to visitation in the building lobby and/or floor lounges, and only during approved hours specified by the program.
- The program must comply with all security measures and procedures specified by University Housing Services and the Department of Security.
Standards of Behavior
All adults involved in a non-exempt Program are required to comply with the following standards of behavior. Any breach of these standards of behavior by an adult must be reported immediately to the Program/Activity Leader, who must notify the Office of Compliance and Risk Management. Any member of the university community may also report a breach of these standards directly to the Office of Compliance and Risk Management at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-674-8885.
- At no time during an approved event or non-exempt program involving Minors may an employee, coach, member of University staff, volunteer, third-party vendor or other person defined in this Policy as an Authorized Adult be alone with a Minor. Put simply, one-on-one contact is prohibited.
- No Minor participating in a university sponsored or affiliated program shall be left unsupervised.
- If any Authorized Adult is assisting Minors in a changing room, locker room, or restroom, doors to the room must be open, and another Authorized Adult must be present.
- Under no circumstances may an Authorized Adult undress, bathe, or shower in the presence of a Minor.
- Corporal punishment of any kind, physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse and neglect is never tolerated and is cause for immediate dismissal.
- Authorized Adults may use appropriate touch, including pats on the back or shoulder, side hugs, handshakes, and high fives, but must refrain from full frontal hugging, touching of personal areas, or patting of the buttocks. A rule of thumb for Authorized Adults is that Minors are not to be touched in areas of their bodies that would be covered by a bathing suit.
- A Minor’s right to say "No" to any touching of any kind is to be encouraged and respected.
- Authorized Adults should use positive techniques of guidance including redirection, positive reinforcement, and encouragement rather than competition, comparison, or criticism.
- Authorized Adults will not give gifts or special favors to individual Minors or show preferential treatment to a Minor or group of Minors to the exclusion of others.
- Authorized Adults will not have private interactions through social media or any other online or electronic means with Minors in any program under this policy. Authorized Adults must not engage or communicate with Minors through email, text messages, social networking websites, internet chat rooms, or other forms of social media at any time, except and unless there is an educational or programmatic purpose and the content of the communication is consistent with this policy and the university mission.
- Authorized Adults will respond to Minors with respect and consideration and treat all Minors equally regardless of sex, race, religion, gender identity or expression, culture, or other protected characteristic.
- Authorized Adults will refrain from intimate displays of affection toward others.
- Using, possessing or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs during participation in any program under this policy is prohibited.
- Smoking, vaping, or use of tobacco in the presence of Minors or parents/guardians during participation in any program under this policy is prohibited.
- Profanity, inappropriate jokes, sharing intimate details of one's personal life and any kind of harassment is prohibited when in the presence or earshot of any Minor participating in programs under this policy.
- Authorized Adults are not to transport Minors who are not members of their family in their own vehicles without the permission of the Program/Activity Leader.
- Authorized Adults may not date or seek an intimate relationship with program participants.
- Under no circumstance will a Minor be released to anyone other than the authorized parent, guardian, or other adult authorized by the parent or guardian (written parent authorization must be on file with the program).
- All Authorized Adults are Mandatory Reporters and are required to report any knowledge or suspicion of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect in accordance with policy guidelines.
- Authorized Adults must make all reasonable efforts to ensure the safety of minors participating in University-sponsored Programs and activities covered by this Policy, including removal of minors from dangerous or potentially dangerous situations, irrespective of any other limitation or requirement.
In addition to complying with these standards Authorized Adults should make every effort to ensure an environment that aligns with these standards for the minors in their care; for example, keeping minors away from an area where individuals not affiliated with the program are smoking.
Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse, Abandonment and Neglect
Under the State of Florida’s Protection of Vulnerable Persons Act, every individual in Florida is required to immediately report known or suspected child abuse and child sexual abuse, neglect, or abandonment to the Florida Department of Children and Family Services’ Abuse Hotline, with the definition of “child” including any person under the age of eighteen. This includes reporting suspected abuse committed by adults who are not the child's legal guardian and by juvenile sexual offenders. A person required to report to the central abuse hotline is not relieved of such obligation by notifying their supervisor. Mandatory reporting applies even if a program is otherwise exempt from this policy.
Failure to report a known or suspected instance of child abuse, child sexual abuse, neglect, or abandonment of any kind is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. In addition, if a University Administrator, upon receiving information from faculty, staff, or other institution employees, knowingly and willfully fails to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect committed on the property of the university or during an event or function sponsored by the university, or knowingly and willfully prevents another person from doing so, they expose the university to a $1 million fine for each such failure.
To report known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment to the Abuse Hotline please go to: Safety and Protection | Florida DCF (myflfamilies.com), call toll-free 800-962-2873 (TDD 711 or 800-955-8771), or report by fax to 800-914-0004. Reports may be made 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information and tips on successful reporting visit myflfamilies.com.
Under this policy, if a program participant discloses any type of assault or abuse (at any time previous to, during or after the program), or an Authorized Adult has reason to believe that the participant has been subject to such assault or abuse, the Authorized Adult, as a Mandatory Reporter, must immediately call 911 or the local law enforcement agency. For instances of child sexual assault or abuse the Authorized Adult should immediately call 911. The Authorized Adult must also contact the Florida Tech Security Department at 321-674-8111 to report any type of assault or abuse.
Minor(s)— A person under the age of 18. Minors may be referred to in this and other policies as “Participants.”
Authorized Adult—An adult, aged 18 and older, paid or unpaid, temporary or permanent, who interacts with, supervises, chaperones, or otherwise oversees and participates in any activity or program for Minors, who is responsible for the care, custody or control of the Minor(s) participating in any University-sponsored program or activity, as authorized by the University, or in a program or activity approved to take place on university property but sponsored by a non-university entity. Authorized Adults may include but are not limited to University employees, coaches, faculty, staff, volunteers, graduate and undergraduate students, interns, trainers, healthcare professionals, independent contractors and consultants, student employees, or volunteers who participate in any manner in a Program defined under this Policy, all of whom are regarded as Mandatory Reporters under this Policy.
Mandatory Reporters—Individuals who, in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations and this Policy, are required to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect when such individual has cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare is endangered as a result of abuse and/or neglect. Authorized Adults under this Policy are also Mandatory Reporters. Florida Tech considers all faculty and staff members, including student employees, to be Mandatory Reporters, who have a duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect in accordance with this policy.
Program—Any organized activity or event that is designed to include participants who are Minors, sponsored by or affiliated with or offered by an academic, administrative unit, administrative unit, professional school, athletic department, or recognized student organization of the University, whether on- or off-campus, or by non-University organizations using campus facilities. This includes any on or off campus program involving Minors in which the University’s brand, name, and/or resources are used. Programs include workshops, summer camps (day or residential), and group visits, but exclude Exempt Programs.
Exempt Program—Programs that are exempt from this policy, except for mandatory reporting requirements, include (1) undergraduate and graduate academic programs in which Minors are enrolled for academic credit; (2) enrolled students in a University residential facility (3) events on University owned or controlled property which are open to the general public and which Minors attend at the sole discretion of their parents or guardians; and, (4) campus tours or visits by Minors considered to be prospective students; (5) field trips or visits supervised by a Minor’s school or organization, (6) Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved research involving Minors, and (7) other programs as may be designated from time to time by the appropriate University official in advance and in writing as exempted from this policy. Exempt programs are NOT exempt from mandatory reporting requirements.
Program/Activity Leader—The University point person for a University-sponsored program or activity, who registers the program and ensures all requirements are met. This also includes the Responsible Party from non-university entities.
Responsible Party – Representative from a non-university entity using university facilities or resources for a program involving minors.
Sponsoring Department—The academic or administrative department of the University which offers a program or activity or gives approval for use of university facilities.
University Housing/Facilities—Facilities and/or structures owned or leased by, or under the control of, the University intended for use as housing or for other activities such as athletic facilities.
One-on-One Contact—Personal and unsupervised interaction between any Authorized Adult and a Minor without at least one other Authorized Adult, parent or legal guardian being present.
Child Abuse and/or Neglect-- Child abuse means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child includes acts or omissions. Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child. Child neglect occurs when a child is deprived of, or is allowed to be deprived of, necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment or a child is permitted to live in an environment when such deprivation or environment causes the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired. This includes reporting suspected abuse committed by adults who are not the child's legal guardian and by juvenile sexual offenders.
University Administrator—The President, Vice Presidents, Deans, Director of Campus Security, the Athletic Director, and the Title IX Coordinator.
Florida Protection of Vulnerable Persons Act, Florida Statutes Chapter 39
Employment Screening, Florida Statutes Chapter 435
Office of the Dean of Students (or designee) – responsible for considering and approving or denying requests for exceptions to the minimum age requirement for enrolled student university housing.
Authorized Adults are responsible to follow the Standards of Behavior. Authorized Adults must make all reasonable efforts to ensure the safety of Minors participating in University-sponsored Programs and activities covered by this Policy, including removal of Minors from dangerous or potentially dangerous situations, irrespective of any other limitation or requirement. This Policy requires immediate action by any Authorized Adult in the event of any suspected abuse or neglect.
Mandatory Reporters have the duty to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect in accordance with this policy and Florida law. This Policy requires immediate action by any Mandatory Reporter in the event of any suspected abuse or neglect.
The Office of Compliance and Risk Management is responsible to review program proposals and personnel background checks and to approve or deny each in accordance with this policy. It is also responsible to verify that insurance requirements have been met and that contracts include provisions specified by this policy when applicable.
The Office of Human Resources is responsible to facilitate background checks, retain copies of background checks in accordance with its policies and to maintain a roster of individuals who have been cleared and approved to participate in programs involving Minors and the dates on which a new background check will be required.
Procurement Services, within the Office of Financial Services, is responsible to verify that contracts include provisions specified by this policy when applicable.
Program/Activity Leaders are responsible to ensure adults involved in a program are Authorized Adults, who have completed training as required by this policy. They are also responsible to communicate the Standards of Behavior to adults involved in the program.
Sponsoring Departments must maintain an updated list of all program participants with name, room assignment if applicable, gender, age, address and phone number of parent or legal guardian, and emergency contact information. They must ensure parents/legal guardians of participants have received information as required by this policy. They are responsible to ensure proper procedures are in place and followed for storage and distribution of participants’ medicines if applicable and to establish protocols regarding the good health of minors participating in such programs.
University Administrators are responsible to immediately report known or suspected instances of child abuse, child sexual abuse, neglect, or abandonment in university-sponsored programs or on university owned or controlled property to the Florida Department of Children and Family Services’ Abuse Hotline and to ensure they do not impede others in any way from making such a report. This includes any instance of abuse, abandonment, or neglect which they witness or suspect and any instance they receive information about.
Violation of this policy may lead to disciplinary action, including termination of employment, contract, or volunteer status. Policy violations that are also violations of local, state, or federal law may also lead to prosecution or other legal consequences.