From the National Standards Commission

2011 Spring Standards Newsletter

HR-4B Now Mandatory

The ACA National Board is committed to the protection of children and youth. Because of societal events, significant news media regarding child abuse, and the expectation by parents regarding reasonable precautions for child safety, the ACA National Board asked the National Standards Commission (NSC) to review the ACA standard concerning staff screening. The Board asked the NSC to research and consider standards in the youth development field — with specific focus on what other organizations require regarding criminal background checks. Upon completing an environmental scan, which included other accreditation bodies, as well as national youth-serving organizations, it became evident the 2006 version of the ACA standard regarding the requirement for criminal background checks (not mandatory) was NOT in line with these organizations and the industry standards. Therefore, the recommendation was made to the ACA Board of Directors to mandate criminal background checks on new staff eighteen years of age or older beginning in 2011. Earlier this fall, Standard HR4B was approved as MANDATORY beginning 2011.

HR4 states: Does the camp have written evidence of a policy in practice that requires screening for all camp staff with responsibility for or access to campers that includes:

(Part B) — For new camp staff eighteen years and older, paid, volunteer, and contracted, a criminal background check? The wording of the current standard has not changed and ACA does not dictate what type of criminal background check must be conducted.

What does this mean for a camp? The current compliance rate for HR4B is already very high — so many camps may not need to make any changes. ALL CAMPS MUST COME INTO COMPLIANCE WITH STANDARD HR4B FOR THE 2011 SEASON!

We at ACA realize that conducting a criminal background check is just one method by which camps work to create a safe environment for campers, and we agree with other accrediting bodies and youth-serving agencies that it is a very important practice. You as a Visitor have the great opportunity to help share this specific message.

ACA has developed a number of resources to help your camp understand the options available when performing criminal background checks. Our resources include an online e-Institute course: Criminal Background Checks — Dispelling the Myths and Confronting the Realities, and a resource page full of excellent articles and links.

Approval Process for Standards

As you might remember, several years ago, it was determined the ACA Standards would be approved by the ACA National Board. In order to make sure we had the necessary steps in place, a “review/approval” process was developed by the National Standards Commission and presented to the National Board for approval. Key steps of this process include (approved by ACA National Board, Oct. 2010):

  • Decision making protocol used to determine suitability of standards
  • Environmental scan and literature review
  • Consultation w/ subject matter experts
  • Initial legal review
  • Input and field comment periods from stakeholders (internal and external at various times)
  • Revisions as necessary
  • Final legal review
  • NSC make final recommendation to ACA National Board

This is the process that has been used during this review/revision/reformatting of the standards. If you have any question or would like additional information, please contact Rhonda Mickelson, ACA Director of Standards at

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