Unaccompanied Minor Policy

Unaccompanied Minor Policy
3/7/2013

Service to children is an important goal at the Beaufort County Library. Children of all ages are welcomed and encouraged to use the library materials, programs and services. The branches of the Libraries are public buildings and are open to all, regardless of origin, age, background and views.

Library staff strive to ensure that all buildings are operated in a safe manner. However, because the buildings are open to all, libraries cannot be considered safe places for unattended children. The responsibility for the safety and behavior of children in the Library rests with the parents, legal guardians, or other responsible adult caregivers. Library staff are not responsible for the care and safety of unattended children in the library. Neither the Library nor the County can or will serve as loco parentis. While on the Library premises, the safety and well-being of patrons under the age of 18 years, remain the sole responsibility of parents and/or legal guardians.
In order to maintain a safe atmosphere where life-long learning is encouraged, the following policy has been adopted by the Board of Library Trustees:

• Children under the age of 8 must be accompanied continually by a parent or responsible adult caregiver. Caregivers must be at least 15 years of age and demonstrate the concern and responsibility to manage a young child. Caregivers under the age of 18 may not accompany more than two children under the age of eight. A parent or responsible adult caregiver must remain with the children at all times and have emergency contact information with them or available to them. A parent or responsible adult caregiver may leave a child ages 4-7 in a storytime when a staff member is present but must remain on the library premises and must be present to pick-up the child immediately upon completion of the storytime.

• If a child under the age of 8 is found to be unaccompanied in the Library, staff will try to locate the parent or responsible adult caregiver to remedy the situation. If a parent or caregiver is not present in the library, efforts will be made to locate the parent or responsible adult caregiver by phone. If the parent or responsible caregiver cannot be reached, local law enforcement and/or other appropriate government agencies will be called.

• Children age 8 and older may use the Library without a parent or responsible caregiver present, but must be able to reach a parent or responsible adult caregiver immediately, either in person or by phone. All children in the Library must follow all policies concerning public conduct and are expected to use the Library appropriately. Children who do not follow these rules are subject to Beaufort County Library Patron Code of Conduct dated May, 11, 2011 (posted in all branches and available from all service desks), including having a parent or guardian notified to pick up the child and being barred from the library for a designated short period of time.
Parents are expected to be aware of the opening and closing times of the library, and that the operating hours might change unexpectedly.
• 30 minutes before a library branch is set to close, announcements will be made notifying children and teens to assure that they have a ride home. The announcements will be made again at 15 minutes and 5 minutes before closing. In case of an early closing that has not been previously posted, staff should assure that unaccompanied children and teens are identified a half hour before closing and efforts are being made to assure that they have transportation home.

If an unattended child under 13 is in the library at closing, at that time the staff member in charge will notify the County Dispatcher (524-2777) to have the appropriate law enforcement pick up the child. Two staff members will remain with the child until either the law enforcement representative or parent arrives and picks up the child. If the parent or responsible caregiver arrives before the law enforcement representative, the dispatcher should be notified immediately. If it is too late to recall the representative, one staff member should stay until the representative arrives and explain the situation. If the representative arrives before the parent, the staff may leave. However, a note must be placed in plain sight to inform the parent of the situation and where to retrieve the child.

When contact is made with the parent/caregiver, the “Unaccompanied Minor Policy” will be explained to the parent/caregiver and “A Note to Parents” summarizing the policy will be given or sent to them. A copy of the full “Unaccompanied Minor Policy” will be made available to any parent/caregiver requesting it.

An incident report will be filled out by the Branch Manager by close of the next working day detailing the occurrence.

Under no circumstances shall a staff member “remedy” an unaccompanied child situation by taking a child off the library premises or transport the child to another location.

Revised March 20, 2013