Child & Volunteer Protection Program
Volunteers are the lifeblood of AYSO. To ensure the safety of both children and volunteers, each volunteer is required to take a short in-person or online training session called Safe Haven™. It focuses on safety and appropriate behavior with children as well as first aid and other on-field issues. Agreeing to a background check is also required for each volunteer.
Becoming Safe Haven™ certified may take a little time, but AYSO families know their children's safety is worth it. Safe Haven™ is both a child and volunteer protection program. It was the first of its kind in youth sports.
The child protection aspect is intended to prevent child abuse, promote education and awareness, enforce policies and screen and train volunteers. It includes proactive steps that promote a positive, healthy environment for children.
Volunteer protection comes into play as a result of volunteer training, certification and continuing education. The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 provides certain legal protections for volunteers who have been trained and certified and act in accordance with a written job description. Safe Haven includes these three elements, giving volunteers the highest degree of protection available under the law.
In recent months, the national media has focused on the negative, even violent, behavior of players, coaches and parents involved in youth sports. In a proactive effort to counteract this trend of violence, AYSO has a program called Kids Zone.
As part of AYSO's education agenda, Kids Zone is a dynamic program targeted to eliminate negative sideline behavior. It is aimed toward producing a thoroughly positive impact on everyone involved in youth soccer. To execute this program, four basic elements are involved:
1. The Button. This is a pin-on button bearing the program's logo. This will be worn by program supporters at games, and will serve as a reminder of the importance of positive sideline behavior.
2. The Sign. A large sideline poster, which lists positive behavior standards, designed to be posted at the entrance of participating fields. Parents and spectators who will abide by these standards are welcome -- all others are not.
3. The Pledge. We will request AYSO parents to sign a pledge that holds them to the Kids Zone standards.
4. The Video. This is a 12 minute documentary that introduces AYSO's principles and its Kids Zone action plan to new participants. Viewers will also watch a parent intervene to change another parent's negative behavior.