Four Factors When Developing a Nonprofit Agency's Youth Protection Plan

Author, Sam Brown, Vice President, Human Services Group, Rancho Mesa Insurance Services.

Group of smiling children in a huddle looking down towards the camera lens.

When designing youth protection measures, many nonprofit leaders want to understand the industry’s “best practices” and incorporate what already works for others. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to identify one set of “best practices” or a universal checklist all organizations should adopt. As a result, it will benefit nonprofit leaders and their clients to tailor daily practices to the unique exposures and operations of the agency. When doing so, it’s best to consider four important factors when designing a youth protection program.

In A Season of Hope, authored by the staff at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, the authors refer to these interlocking factors as the “Four P’s: Personnel, Participants, Program, and Premises. Let’s explore:


The nature of the services offered to youth will dictate the staff’s professional background and education. Those nonprofits offering therapy and counseling will aim to hire employees with advanced degrees; whereas, some programs may feel comfortable hiring responsible teens and young adults. In each case, supervision and background checks are vital to client safety.

Participant Mix

Is the agency serving a pre-school program for kids who are relatively close in age with similar needs? Or, perhaps, it is a group home involving minors who all have differing special needs due to their unique family situations and backgrounds. What unique risks to the organization does each group present? Considering the characteristics of a nonprofit’s youth clientele will shape an organization’s approach to youth protection.    

Program and Mission

An organization must consider how its mission and programs will impact youth safety. A nonprofit conducting group outings to encourage social behavior will not have the same concerns as an organization matching children with foster families. Each will present unique exposures. 


Nonprofits serve youth in a wide range of venues and environments, and each present different risks. The variables can include supervision, activities at height, access to emergency care, and sleeping arrangements. Knowing this, it is vital for an organization’s leaders to identify how a venue presents risk to youth safety and then plan accordingly. 
“My Risk Assessment” is a very strong tool available through Rancho Mesa Insurance Services. This interactive module allows nonprofit leaders to identify potential gaps in risk management in a number of areas, including client safety, transportation, and facilities.

Keeping young clients safe while in a nonprofit’s care is a core promise of the organization to the community. When nonprofit leaders take a careful look at the four P's, they can reduce the risk of harm while also ensuring the mission endures.

Please contact me or Chase Hixson at Rancho Mesa Insurance Services to learn more about sound risk management practices.