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Guiding principles

A page within Youth Programs

One-on-one Contact: One-on-one contact between an adult and a minor is generally prohibited. Covered activities should not be designed to incorporate one-on-one contact that is not observable and interruptible between an adult and a minor. Cases of family member relationships are exempt.

In such research and instructional settings where one-on-one tutoring ensues, free access to the instructional or research setting by authorized persons to and from any space must be maintained at all times. Such an expectation in a program must be communicated to the DPYL and receive approval.

Examples to achieve interruptibility include: no window or door coverings that would restrict or eliminate visibility into the room and ensuring doors that are used to enter and exit the space are unlocked and accessible. In such settings, it is strongly encouraged to leave doors open when feasible.

Supervision ratio adherence: Supervision ratios reflect Youth Participants’ developmental stages, the type of program, and the type of interaction expected between Youth Participants and adults.

The following minimum supervision ratios must be maintained for all Covered Activities. Only Designated Individuals (either UWL employees or third-party staff) can count towards supervision ratios.

Minimum Supervision Ratios

Group Grades Camp Type Designated Individual Ratio
PK–1st, Age 3–4 University Custodial Youth  Commuter Program 1:4
PK–1st, Age 4–5 University Custodial Youth Commuter Program 1:6
PK–1st, Age 5–6 University Custodial Youth Commuter Program 1:10
PK–1st, Age 6 & under University Custodial Youth Overnight Program 1:4
Grades 2–4 All program types 1:10
Field Trips and Overnight Programs must have a minimum of 2 adults.
Grades 5–12 All non-classroom settings 1:10
Field Trips must have a minimum of 2 adults.
Grades 5–12 Classroom settings 1:18
Grades 2–12 Mixed-age participants (individuals over 18 plus youth participants)  1:6

The following behavior is prohibited:

  • Conduct that violates the law (e.g., child abuse, child sexual abuse, protected class discrimination, emotional abuse, hazing, indecent exposure, child pornography, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment);
  • Conduct that violates UW System policies;
  • Actions that are found to constitute bullying or grooming;
  • Infringement on privacy of youth participants in situations where they are changing clothes or taking showers except in situations when a health or safety exception is necessary and appropriate;
  • Adults showering, bathing, or undressing with or in the presence of youth participants;
  • Photographing or recording in shower houses, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected by participants; and
  • Use of alcohol by volunteers or participants when engaged in covered activities.

Activities are insured: All covered activities must be covered by an approved insurance policy or registered with the UWL Camps and Clinics Blanket Accident Insurance policy. For more information regarding insurance requirements, contact the Assistant Controller in Business Services.

Programs develop and share an Emergency Plan and information regarding reporting: Each covered youth program must have a Program Emergency Plan that is easily accessible to organizers and volunteers for the duration of the program. Additionally, each program will provide clear instructions to volunteers and participants on how to report incidents to the correct authorities.

All UWL employees working with youth are encouraged to review Position of Trust and Mandated Reporter expectations. It is recommended that all Activity Directors review the complete reporting expectations.


University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, via the Division Youth Protection Liaison (DYPL) in collaboration with the Activity Director, determines categorization of volunteers into one of two categories that inform subsequent Criminal Background Check (CBC) and training requirements. For the purpose of UWL’s Youth Policy, any adult assisting with a covered youth activity is considered a volunteer. The primary difference between the categories is the level of interaction with minors. Volunteers must complete the respective trainings (and CBCs, if required) prior to assisting with an event.

Authorized Adult

Authorized Adults are individuals, age 18 and over, paid or unpaid, who are authorized to interact with youth participants as part of a covered activity. An authorized adult is not counted toward the supervision ratio for a covered activity and, therefore, has less strict training requirements. Authorized adults cannot have unsupervised access to minors.

Authorized Adults are required to complete the following.

  • Training: UWL’s Youth Protection Training (every 2 years) that incorporates information about Mandated Reporting (associated with Executive Order 54) and Sexual Harassment/Sexual Violence reporting.
  • Criminal Background Check: Not required for youth protection purposes.

Designated Individual

A designated individual is an authorized adult who is counted in the supervision ratio for a covered activity. Designated individuals are responsible for ensuring the care and safety of youth participants in covered activities. This role operates in a supervisory capacity and has extended contact with minors.

Designated Individuals are required to complete the following.

  • Training: UWL’s Youth Protection Training (every 2 years) that incorporates information about Mandated Reporting (associated with Executive Order #54) and Sexual Harassment/Sexual Violence reporting.

Designated Individuals at an Overnight Custodial Camp must also complete:

  • UW System Youth Mental Health Module

Special considerations for non-custodial youth programs

Third party Designated Individuals and Authorized Adults supporting Non-custodial youth programs are not required to participate in UWL training. However, they must still be aware of and consent to following Youth Policy.

  • Criminal Background Check: every 4 years in alignment with RPD 20-19
    • If working as staff on behalf of a University program: will need to be submitted for a background check to the DYPL and HR.
    • If a current employee of the University:
      • Reference Checks – upon hiring in alignment with SYS 1275
    • If volunteering for a third-party (not a UWL employee)
      • Documented attestation of completed CBC requirements is sufficient so long as all UW System requirements are met prior to the start of the program. UWL is able to run CBCs on behalf of a third-party if needed; costs will be charged back to the third-party