Unattended Children

Unattended Children (TPL-CHI-11)

The Timmins Public Library welcomes children of all ages to use its facilities and services. Library staff are trained to assist children in using the Library but cannot assume responsibility for the safety and well-being of children left unattended in the building. Parents and caregivers are reminded that the Library is a public building with all the inherent dangers of such a setting. Library policies and services are designed to provide a safe and welcoming environment for patrons of all ages but parents need to use the same caution with their children at the Library as they would in any other public setting.

In an effort to ensure the safety and well-being of children within our public facilities and to maintain an atmosphere of appropriate Library use, the following policy has been adopted.

1.0 Definitions

For the purposes of this policy:

  • A “child” is any person under sixteen years of age.
  • A “parent” is any person who is either the natural, adoptive, foster parent or legal guardian of the child.
  • A “caregiver” is anyone 12 years of age or older to whom the parent has given responsibility for the care of the younger child.

2.0 Guidelines

Responsibility for the welfare and the behaviour of children using the Library ultimately rests with the parent or assigned caregiver.

In accordance with the Ontario Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, children under the age of 10 must remain in the immediate vicinity of and in visual contact with a parent or responsible caregiver while in the Library.

Children aged 10 or older may use the Library independently; however parents are still responsible for them.

3.0 Programs 

Some Library programs require the parent or caregiver to accompany the child during the program.  For all other Library programs, children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver to the program room for drop-off and pick-up due to security concerns.  Parents/caregivers for children under the age of 10 must remain present in the building during the program.

4.0 Conduct of Children in the Library

All patrons of the Library must follow the Library Users’ Code of Conduct established by the Library Board and posted in the building and on the Library website.

Parents/Caregivers are responsible for the conduct of their children in the Library. Parents must ensure that children requiring supervision are brought to the Library with a responsible caregiver. Parents or caregivers are responsible for supervising their child’s access to all Library resources including the Internet.

5.0 Unattended Children in the Library

Unattended or lost children will be reassured by a staff member who will help locate the parent or caregiver using procedures outlined below.

In most circumstances, the health and safety of children, particularly older children and teens, is not an issue. However, Library staff will intervene when they become aware that a child in the Library is in any of these, or similar situations:

  • a child is alone, visibly upset or ill;
  • a child under the age of 12 is left alone with younger siblings;
  • a child is alone and doing something dangerous, or another person in the Library seems to be a danger to the child;
  • a child is alone, and is not following Library rules after reasonable warnings;
  • a child is left alone at the Library at closing time.

If a child under the age of 10 is found unattended, Library staff will attempt to locate the parent or caregiver in the Library and inform him/her of the policy. If the parent or caregiver cannot be found, or if the child is found unattended again, the police will be called for assistance.

Library staff are obligated by the Child and Family Services Act to call the Timmins Police (705-264-1201) or the North Eastern Ontario Family and Children’s Services (705-360-7100) if they believe that a child is in need of protection.

6.0 Closing Time

If a child is left at the Library at closing time or in the event of an emergency situation or closure, a staff member  will attempt to contact the parent or caregiver. If the parent or adult caregiver cannot be contacted within 15 minutes after closing, staff will notify the police. A minimum of two staff members will remain with the child until the police arrive.

Under no circumstances will Library staff transport or take the child away from the Library building.

7.0 Requests for Information Regarding Truant Children

As a public facility, the Library does not monitor the activities of its patrons unless there is a problem with conduct or a child is inappropriately left alone as outlined above.

If a school aged child is noticed to be spending considerable time in the Library during the school day, staff may check with the child and ask that a parent confirm with the Library that he/she is aware of the child’s whereabouts.

8.0 Requests for Information regarding Missing Children/Runaways

Staff will not give information to any person over the telephone as to whether a child is currently in the Library or has been in the Library recently. Staff may offer to take a message and ask the child to call the person back.

If there is an active police investigation, library staff will cooperate with police in helping to locate a missing minor.

9.0 Violations

If a child under the age of 10 violates the Library Users’ Code of Conduct, the child and the parent or caregiver will be informed of the code. If inappropriate behaviour continues, the family may be asked to leave the Library.

Children ages 10 and over may use the Library independently on a regular basis, but parents or caregivers are still responsible for the actions and the well-being of their children while in the Library.  Children using inappropriate behaviour may be asked to leave the Library. If a child in this age group is not able to leave the Library without an adult, he/she should not be in the Library alone. All children should have the telephone number of someone who can assist them in an emergency.

Any child’s failure to comply with the Library Users’ Code of Conduct or other Library policies may result in consequences deemed by Library staff to be appropriate to the behaviour. The Library may require children who are in chronic violation of Library rules to be accompanied by a parent/caregiver during Library visits for a period to be determined by the Chief Executive Officer or his/her designate.

REFERENCES

TPL-SER-12 Library Users’ Code of Conduct

Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11

Motion:  TPL 16-22

May 24, 2016