Recent allegations of abuse and violence towards children have many parents concerned over safety and they’re not the only ones --- proper care for young people is also a focus for area organizations.
The Boys and Girls Club of Bakersfield is just one of several centers providing young people a place to stay when parents aren’t around and according group leaders safety is their top priority.
When Analy Pimentel decided it was okay for her 14-year-old daughter Berenice to join an afterschool program she did some research.
“I looked at the place and talked to a couple of people,” she said.
It’s a common practice for other parents as well.
“We just never know,” said Pimentel.
And encouraged by leaders at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County who require visitors to sign-in and out.
“After every shooting, I sit my kids down and I talk to them and go over, okay what are you going to do if this happens,” she said.
Children at the center work along many volunteers who like all staff members have to go through an extensive background check.
“Even when they are cleared and have gone through the process of volunteering, our volunteers are never left alone with our children. They kind of perform an assistant role with our staff members,” said Justin Ahart with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County.
Volunteers take part in a mandatory orientation where they go over the organization’s policies, best practices and identify boundaries.
“These kids, not only their supervision is important but the people they are around, we’re their role models and we want to make sure they are physically safe, but they are emotionally safe and they are socially safe,” said Ahart.
Strict policies help ease the mind of many parents while helping young people be young people.
“I feel pretty safe because the doors are always locked and we have a lot of staff here supervising us,” said Berenice Pimental, 14, who attends the afterschool programs.