Image courtesy of the YMCA of Central New York
YMCA of Central New York recently announced the organization was awarded the highest honor for abuse prevention practices: Praesidium Accreditation by Praesidium. The honor publicly demonstrates the YMCA worked to achieve the highest industry standards in abuse prevention.
Megan Davis, the interim executive director and association director of compliance and safety at the YMCA of Central New York, said the accreditation came three months sooner than originally expected.
“We were very proud and honored, along with relief, that we met all the qualifications,” said Davis. “Not only did we meet the qualifications, but we did not need to plan to close any gaps after the two day, in-person site visit. Normally after the site visit, Presidium provides gaps that need to be closed, and we would have time to implement a plan to close them.”
Davis said their chief talent officer, Erin Grayson, first introduced Praesidium to the YMCA of Central New York in 2019.
Praesidium specializes in preventing sexual abuse in organizations that serve youth and vulnerable adults. Over a period in excess of 30 years, the company reviewed over 4,000 cases of abuse within organizations to determine the root causes of sexual abuse. Praesidium employs more than 50 staff, including licensed social workers, lawyers, health care researchers and other experts.
The company has served over 5,000 clients with a range of services to aid organizations in preventing abuse. This includes online and instructor–led trainings, organizational risk assessments, model policies and background checks.
Davis said her Y learned about the accreditation process through three members of their staff becoming certified Presidium guardians. By June of 2021, Y-USA and Presidium provided a pilot program consisting of 10 YMCAs to become accredited. The YMCA of Central New York was chosen to be a part of this pilot.
YMCA of the USA requires all Ys across the nation to implement child sexual abuse prevention practices. Policies must also maintain good standings. They do this through an assessment called Know Your Score. Davis said the Presidium Accreditation is “above and beyond” this requirement.
Significance and Benefits
Davis said as one of the leading youth-serving organizations, the honor distinguishes them from other organizations in the industry.
“This accreditation will allow our organization to provide sources, tools and training within our community,” said Davis. “Education is key to prevention. The more we can share information, the better the difference we can make in the lives of youth.”
Davis also highly recommended other YMCAs and community rec centers to attain the accreditation. “Leading the charge in providing a safe space for youth is crucial,” she said. “It also allows our communities to see there is a strong benchmark that we are being regularly measured against to know there is action behind our words to keep people safe.”
Moving forward, Davis said their plan is to uphold fundamental organizational values and stringent safety practices demonstrating their commitment to protecting those in their care from abuse.
“This will be accomplished through identifying any gaps within their policies and procedures, closing those gaps, and providing resources and trainings to not only our Y employees, but to our community as well,” said Davis. “This is an ongoing commitment. It cannot and will not be a one and done.”
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