New Director of MSU Youth Programs working to protect minors in MSU’s care

Jun 19, 2018

David Chupak is the new Director of Youth Programs at MSU, with responsibility for overseeing over 127 MSU Youth Programs that serve over 60,000 youth each year. He joins me to talk about MSU’s many ongoing efforts to protect minors in our care through our youth programs, visits to campus and facilities, and even youth employment.

Chupak says a MSU Youth Program is any learning activity that involves the participation of minors - on campus, off campus, in the state of Michigan, outside of Michigan, even abroad. And what is not a MSU youth program? Public events like concerts at Wharton Center or Athletic events.

A person is considered a MSU youth program participant if they’re under 18 and not enrolled or accepted for enrollment at MSU. Dually enrolled participants, that is, students who are in high school but who are also enrolled in MSU college courses, qualify if there is an overnight component.

MSU’s most recent efforts to protect minors in youth programs began in 2012 with a training for MSU Youth Program directors focused on identifying and reporting signs of child abuse. A policy established in 2013 outlines operational requirements for MSU Youth Programs. It’s continuing to evolve with revisions.

In 2016 a part-time Director of Youth Programs conducted a survey of Youth Programs at MSU and facilitated a Youth Protection Workshop to train MSU Youth Program Directors.

Recommendations from the MSU Office of Internal Audit and the part time Director of Youth Programs led to Chupak’s appointment as the new full-time Youth Programs Director in November 2017.

In Chupak’s role, he provides oversight for MSU youth programs, promotes compliance with Minimum Operational Requirements for Conducting University Youth Programs and further development of relevant policies, and conducts trainings and consultations for directors and coordinators of MSU youth programs.

MSU has over 127 faculty and staff working as directors or co-directors of MSU Youth Programs serving over 60,000 youth annually.

Some additional initiatives include:

Raising awareness about the presence of The MSU Youth Programs Office and the requirements for facilitating youth programs at MSU.

Adding a new policy that requires that all MSU youth programs register with the Office of the Youth Programs Director, including Youth Programs sponsored by external groups that are held at MSU facilities.

Efforts to ensure that MSU researchers who plan to work with youth are aware of relevant MSU Youth Program policies and adhere to them in their research. 

When it comes to faculty research, Chupak is working with the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies to direct researchers who plan to work with youth to contact Chupak’s office.  

Some Current Efforts to Protect Minors in Youth Programs at MSU:

Chupak and MSU held the 2018 Youth Protection Workshop in March.  The workshop has evolved to a one-day event involving campus experts educating about policies and practices in protecting youth in programs at MSU.

The team worked with MSU Police to hold a training on Surviving an Active Shooter and Acts of Violence. They worked with the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives to provide a workshop for Youth Program Directors on Implicit Bias.

Currently they’re working on a training with Academic Human Resources on Behavioral Interviewing Practices for selecting staff and volunteers who can help to raise red flags on behaviors that may indicate the potential for child maltreatment.

On the horizon, MSU is looking to do more professional development on youth-related issues, such as cyber-bullying.

The policy for MSU Youth Programs is based on national best practices in youth protection. Chupak recently worked with Youth Programs Advisory Board and the Office of the General Counsel to update, strengthen, and clarify the Youth Programs policy. It’s more aligned with recent federal policy updates on limitations of one-on-one contact between minors and adults.

Chupak and his team are currently working to develop a process for youth programs to formally register with their office. The process provides a systematic approach for oversight, compliance, and support. They’re providing ongoing consultations for program directors as they prepare and facilitate youth programming activities. And program directors and coordinators are eager to comply with requirements and committed to provide safe experiences.

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