The University cataloged 170 programs that cater to children, according to Associate General Counsel Donica Thomas Varner. With the scope of these programs in wind, University announced Monday a new centralized policy.

The policy mandates national background checks for employees working with children and a unified directory of all child-related programs.

Previously, each department that managed these programs, such as Camp Kesem and University child care, created its own policies. These policies included what is outlined in the new consolidated guidelines, such as training guidelines and a code of conduct.

However, the past system generated confusion and worry among University employees. A September 2013 child-safety seminar, which Varner said had no relation to the creation of the new policy, revealed this tension.

An 11-person committee with representation from athletics, the Office of the Provost, the Office of University Audits and other departments formulated the policy. Varner and Kelly Cunningham, Office of Public Affairs director, co-chaired the committee.

With the streamlining of the policy, the new standards provide centralized support and clarify expectations for protecting children, Varner said. It applies to all University employees, students and volunteers involved with minors on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn or Flint campuses.

“We welcome children to our campuses and want them to have a fun and positive experience,” Timothy P. Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer and executive sponsor of the policy, said in a press release.

At University Athletic Department programs, which served more than 9,000 children last summer, the background check procedure only covered criminal offenses committed within the state of Michigan. So crimes committed in other states, including crimes that signify that applicants should not be around children, could be unknown to the University.

Athletic Camp Administrator Katie Miranto expressed her concern regarding this system last September during the School of Social Work-sponsored seminar.

“I can’t even describe to you how many gaps there are and how nervous I get over the summer,” Miranto said in September. “It’s very hard to sleep.”

Associate Athletic Director David Ablauf, said in a statement that Miranto’s candid comments demonstrate the department’s commitment to improvement.

“We were part of a public seminar to do just that — to be open and transparent about our strengths, as well as our areas of improvement,” Ablauf said.

The new checks, conducted by University Human Resources and a corporate background screening company called General Information Services, comprise checking the potential employee’s criminal background and the national sex offender registry in the states in which applicants have declared residency or have an established credit history over the past seven years.

After seven years, it is illegal for employers to access information on criminal offenses that did not result in conviction.

Administrators of programs involving children on campus are also now required to register their program in a University-wide, web-based registry. University-sponsored programs involving children were previously managed on a department or college level.

The streamlined policy, Varner said, will allow University personnel to better understand the obligations for ensuring children on campus can safely enjoy their stay. She noted the campus community’s enthusiasm to receive the policy.

“We’re really appreciative of shared commitment to ensure children are welcome to our campus and that they are provided with a healthy, secure place to play and learn,” Varner said.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Donica Varner attended the September meeting and expressed concern over the issue at hand. Varner was not present for that meeting, and therefore did not make those comments.

Clarification: The article previously stated that the University could cater 170 programs catered to children. However, the University was able to catalog 170 programs so far and expects to identify more programs in their research.

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