Safe Child & Children's Program Policy Print Email


Adopted by the Whatcom County Rural Library District Board of Trustees January 18, 2005

Children are welcome in the library.

The Whatcom County Library System welcomes children of all ages. Serving children is a vital part of the library mission. We strongly encourage families and children to make full and frequent use of the library. We're happy they're here.

Children's safety

The library is a public place. Anyone may enter and use the facilities. Children left alone in the building can be vulnerable and at risk. It is for the safety of each child that the Whatcom County Library System has adopted this Safe Child Policy.

Purpose of this policy

The purpose of this policy is to inform parents and guardians that the library does not assume responsibility for their children as well as to provide guidelines to be used by staff if a child is left unattended in the library.

The role of library staff

Staff cannot and do not take over parental or child care responsibilities for children who come into the library. Library staff have many duties to perform in order to serve library users of all ages. It is impossible for them to monitor the behavior or welfare of every child.

Parents' responsibility

Children age seven and younger must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or responsible caregiver twelve or older at all times and in all areas of the library and on library grounds. Parents and caregivers are responsible for monitoring their children's safety and supervising their children's behavior in accordance with the WCLS Rules of Conduct.

Children's responsibility

Children, like all library users, are required to respect library property and to act in a manner appropriate to the use and function of the library. Children are subject to the same Rules of Conduct as other patrons and the same consequences, including being asked to leave the library.

Levels of supervision required

Children age seven and younger must be supervised by a parent or responsible caregiver age twelve or older at all times while in the library or on library grounds.

Children age four and younger must always be in close proximity and within sight of the person responsible for their safety.

Children of any age with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities which affect behavior or decision-making skills or make supervision necessary must be accompanied by a parent or capable caregiver at all times.

To protect unattended children

Parents, guardians, and designated adults are required to be familiar with the library's hours and to make advance arrangements to pick up or otherwise transport their children before the library closes. A minor left unattended at closing time may be deemed at risk. Every reasonable effort will be made by the staff to assist the child in contacting an appropriate adult. If no responsible adult is reached, or the child is not picked up within 20 minutes of library closing, library personnel may notify the police to assume custody of the child. Two staff members will wait with the child until the parent, guardian, other designated adult, or the police pick her/him up. Staff will not transport children home or to any other destination under any circumstances.

Children are welcome in the library, and children age 8 and older may visit the library on their own, without an accompanying adult. If a child is left unattended at the library in circumstances that give library staff cause for concern about the child's safety or welfare, staff may contact child protective or law enforcement authorities.


An addendum to the Safe Child Policy

Adopted by the Whatcom County Rural Library District Board of Trustees June 21, 2005

Purpose of this addendum

The Safe Child Policy requires that children age seven and younger must be accompanied in the library by a responsible caregiver twelve or older. The purpose of this addendum is to create a limited exemption from this policy for WCLS after-school children's programs.

Children's programming is integral to the library's mission.

WCLS is dedicated to promoting the value and pleasure of reading and libraries, especially to children. By providing regularly scheduled activities for children in branch libraries, WCLS promotes literacy and lifelong learning.

As a Rural Library District, WCLS makes special efforts to bring children into the library.

To help overcome transportation and logistical barriers for school age children in the rural areas we serve, WCLS has arranged for local schools to bus children to our smallest libraries for after-school programs, with parental permission. Bused children are not accompanied by parents or caregivers and their parents are responsible for picking them up or arranging other transportation home.

Exemption from the Safe Child Policy

Children age five and older attending a WCLS after-school program in a branch library are not required to be accompanied by a caregiver if they present a WCLS permission slip filled out and signed by a parent or guardian.

This exemption is for the duration of the program only.

Outside the hours of the after school program the child is attending, all provisions of the safe child policy remain in effect. Parents must arrange for children seven and younger to be picked up promptly by a responsible caregiver age 12 or older.

Library children's programs are not child care

Parents should be aware that even during children's programs staff cannot take over parental or child care responsibilities for children who come into the library, and cannot guarantee that every child's whereabouts will be monitored at all times. Parents should instruct their children not to leave the program area during the program. Parents should discuss with their children what arrangements they have made for the children to go home after the program and instruct their children not to leave the building except as arranged.



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