The YMCA Auckland and Waikato network has taken a proactive step to reaffirm its commitment to child safety by becoming New Zealand’s first accredited Safeguarding Children organisation through the internationally-renowned Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF).
Chief Executive Peter Fergusson said the two year journey towards the accreditation was further validated this week following the government announcement of a Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care.
“Achieving an independent child-safe accreditation required us to really think long and hard about how we provide the best and safest experiences for the thousands of children and young people entrusted in our care each year.
“Our values and commitment to empowering young people through a range of programmes has always been at the heart of our work, and that’s what motivated us to embark on this accreditation journey some time ago.”
To achieve the child-safe accreditation, the YMCA Auckland and Waikato network volunteered to undertake a two year programme of work guided by the ACF to ensure best-practice employment screening, rigorous annual staff training and a strong and open organisational culture that prioritises the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. The programme also involved collaboration with a wide range of YMCA staff, parents and children.
Fergusson said the ACF accreditation is testament to the commitment of YMCAs across Auckland and the Waikato to providing the highest possible standards in children’s services and programmes.
“We’re very proud to be New Zealand’s first ACF Safeguarding Children accredited organisation and to carry those standards through all of our programmes including early childhood education, before and after school care, recreation and holiday programmes and other services.”
The Australian Childhood Foundation is regarded as an industry leader in safeguarding practices and analyses international and local research and case studies to ensure best-practice.
As part of the accreditation, YMCA’s child-safe procedures and policies will be audited each year by an independent panel of child-safe consultants and legal and governance experts.
Details about the YMCA Auckland and Waikato network’s child-safe policies and procedures can be found at ymcauckland.org.nz/child-safety. The safeguarding practices will soon be implemented across YMCA operations in the Bay of Plenty.