Youth Development Operations Director Erin Lightbody Leads Culture of Safety as a Certified Praesidium Guardian
At the Y, we are dedicated to providing a safe environment for kids to learn, grow, and thrive in our childcare programs. This responsibility starts with staff leadership, and that is why we are proud to have Youth Development Operations Director Erin Lightbody as a certified Praesidium Guardian, an award given to leaders who help ensure that an organization is following the highest industry standards for child abuse prevention.
“The Praesidium Guardian class helped me take a look at the entire interview and training process for employees in our childcare programs and identify ways we can continue to improve our hiring and onboarding process. Everything from start to finish has been made more robust,” Lightbody said.
Lightbody’s diligence to provide safe spaces for kids is guided not only by nearly 20 years of experience in youth development programming, but also as a parent of two children who participate in YMCA childcare programs.
“Having my own kids enrolled in Y programs helps me to understand what parents in our community are looking for when selecting youth development programs for their children. Parents should feel confident that we are putting their best interests first,” she said.
As a part of her certification, Lightbody completed an impact project designed to improve applicant screening for childcare positions in the Y’s summer day camp and before and after school programs.
“I created a standardized list of interview questions that focused on child abuse prevention,” Lightbody said. “We record the answers from the candidates so we can identify any red flags that may come up. I have worked alongside our Human Resources Department to track these responses, and we also include a statement on child abuse prevention which gets read to job candidates during interviews.
Lightbody said that the new interview questions are scenario based and help leadership staff identify qualified candidates as well as improve a potential employee’s understanding of how to identify, prevent, and respond to early warning signs of child abuse. She also said that the Y is working toward expanding this interview process across all departments.
“Everybody at the Y knows that keeping kids safe is our number one priority. When children are in our care, we have to make sure that they are having the best experience and first and foremost that means that they are safe.”