Minors on Campus
Policy Number: 164
Minors participating in a Youth Program or otherwise visiting or working at the University
Employees and others working with minors at the University
- Date Reviewed:
- August 2022
- Responsible Office:
- Office of Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management; Human Resources; Office of Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer
- Responsible Executive:
- Vice President of Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management; Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer; Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
In accordance with The University of Texas System (“UT System”) Policy 192, the purpose of this policy is to ensure the safety of minors and compliance with laws relating to minors participating in Youth Programs (as defined below) on premises owned or controlled by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“University”) or sponsored or supported by a University department or unit, including Youth Programs where minors participate in a virtual learning experience. This policy is also intended to ensure the safety of minors otherwise visiting or employed by the University. For purposes of this policy, a minor is an individual under the age of 18 years.
For a minor to be selected as a volunteer, the volunteer opportunity must be approved and processed in accordance with HOOP Policy 159 Volunteers in addition to conforming with this policy.
This policy establishes a mechanism for the protection of minors at the University for educational, research, or employment purposes only. It is not intended to provide coverage for, nor is it an endorsement of, minors being at the workplace due to such situations as school vacations, illness, or holidays. The University strongly discourages the presence of minors who are not involved in university activities and cannot be responsible for their safety. Department heads are responsible for assuring that any minors within their assigned space are on campus in conjunction with University activities.
Designated Individual(s): a person involved in and assisting with a Youth Program for Youth Participants, who has contact with a Youth Participant and has been identified by the University as a Designated Individual. Examples of Designated Individuals can include: faculty, staff, students, volunteers, or contracted employees who assist in Youth Programs.
Youth Participant: a minor who is attending a Youth Program. This definition does not include University students who are under the age of 18.
Youth Program: a camp, program, internship, mentorship, observership, event, or activity held on university owned or controlled premises, or sponsored or supported by a University department or unit, including virtual educational experiences, that offers recreational, research or educational activities to Youth Participants. There are two types of Youth Programs: the Youth Scholars Program and Youth Group Programs, as defined in this policy. Youth Program also includes any “campus program for minors” as defined by Section 51.976 of the Texas Education Code. “Youth Program” as defined herein specifically includes external third-party youth programs that contract with the University for the use of institutional facilities.
Further, for the purposes of this policy, this definition does not include programs for University enrolled students or employees under the age of 18, or programs where the custody, control, and care of a minor is not the responsibility of the institution but instead held by non-University teachers, official chaperones, parents, or legal guardians (e.g. campus tours for prospective students’ families, visits by local school district classes).
A. Youth Programs
All Youth Programs at the University must be sponsored by or affiliated with a University department, school, or unit, unless specifically authorized by the President. The Office of Academic Affairs & Student Success (OAASS) is responsible for the oversight of all Youth Programs at the University.
The University offers two types of Youth Programs: the Youth Scholars Program and Youth Group Programs. The Youth Scholars Program is for high school students who seek an educational experience and opportunities to shadow/observe faculty and staff but who are not registered or enrolled in a course at the University (note: minors who are college students seeking similar opportunities should apply through the Visiting Scholars Program).
Youth Group Programs are intended for groups attending a structured camp and/or program as opposed to individual (one on one) learning/educational experiences.
For a minor to participate in the Youth Scholar Program, in addition to conforming with this policy, they must be approved and proceed in accordance with the with HOOP Policy 125 Visitors and the guidelines on the Visiting Scholars Program website.
Youth Group Programs, in addition to conforming with this policy, must also be approved and proceed in accordance with the guidelines on the Visiting Scholars Program website.
All Youth Programs at the University must have the following minimum adult supervision ratio requirements:
Age of Youth Participants
Number of Adult Staff
5 years or younger
B. Requirements for Designated Individuals
All Designated Individuals must undergo a background check prior to hire (see HOOP 160, Criminal Background Checks) and no less than one time per year thereafter.
Designated Individuals must also complete state approved training on the warning signs of sexual abuse and child molestation within five days of employment or volunteering with a Youth Program, unless the Designated Individual has completed such training within the last two years. The training will be provided to all Designated Individuals through the review process overseen by OAASS. For employees who are or become Designated Individuals on an intermittent basis, the training and background check requirements must be completed prior to the beginning of their participation in the applicable Youth Program.
No unsupervised access to Youth Participants by any person other than Designated Individuals is permitted. Designated Individuals must not engage in any behavior that could cause harm or be misinterpreted as possibly causing harm to Youth Participants. Prohibited conduct for Designated Individuals includes, but is not limited to:
- One-on-one contact with Youth Participants outside the presence of another Designated Individual.
- Meeting with Youth Participants outside of established times for Youth Program activities.
- Touching Youth Participants in a manner that a reasonable person could interpret as inappropriate.
- Engaging in any abusive conduct of any kind toward, or in the presence of, a Youth Participant, including but not limited to verbal abuse, striking, hitting, punching, poking, spanking, or restraining.
- Showering, bathing or undressing with or in the presence of Youth Participants.
- Using, possessing or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while working a Youth Program.
- Being alone in a vehicle with a Youth Participant at any time.
- Having direct electronic contact with Youth Participants without another Designated Individual included in the communication.
- Making sexual materials in any form available to Youth Participants participating in Youth Programs or assisting them in any way in gaining access to such materials.
Failure of any Designated Individual to abide by these requirements may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination or dismissal.
C. Youth Group Program, Youth Scholars, Visits, or Volunteer Activities in a Laboratory, Clinic or Other Hazardous Area
Before minors may participate in a Youth Group Program, Youth Scholar Program, other visit, or volunteer activity at the University that will be conducted in a laboratory, clinic or other area where hazards may exist, Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management (“SHERM”) must be consulted.
- The project or visit organizer representing the University must obtain and complete the first section of Clearance Request for Minors in the Workplace form. (For the Youth Scholars Program and Youth Group Program, follow instructions on the Visiting Scholars Program website regarding completion of this form.). If there is any question regarding whether the activities will be conducted in an area where hazards may exist, please contact SHERM. After the first section has been completed, the minor and his or her parent or legal guardian should review and sign the form.
- At least four weeks before the proposed start of the Youth Scholar or other proposed activity, the supervisor of the designated project or visit area must submit to SHERM the completed form signed and dated by the minor, his or her parent or legal guardian, the requestor, and the supervisor of the designated project area. Youth Group Programs should follow instructions on the Visiting Scholars Program website regarding necessary forms.
- SHERM will review the information and the proposed project or visit areas for any health and safety concerns. SHERM will indicate approval/disapproval on the form. SHERM may state on this form any concerns it has regarding the project and will prescribe any necessary health and safety training. In some instances, special training may be warranted for the minor(s) and will be arranged by SHERM. The supervisor of the designated project area must address any noted concerns, must retain these completed forms on file in accordance with the applicable Records Retention Schedule, and must ensure that only individuals who have approved forms are participants in the project.
- For any Youth Group Programs that also constitute camps, excess accident and general liability coverage is provided under the UT System Camp Program. Contact SHERM for more information and to set up this coverage.
Study projects or visits that are to be undertaken at the University by minors must be reviewed and authorized in advance by SHERM if exposure to ionizing radiation, biological hazards in laboratories designated as Biosafety Levels 2 or 3, acutely toxic chemicals, chemical carcinogens, hazardous materials, nanoparticles, power-driven equipment, high voltage equipment or other hazardous substances are involved. Laboratory or clinic safety training is required via SHERM prior to the minor entering the laboratory or clinic, respectively.
D. Other Activities Involving Minors on Campus
1. Visits and Other Activities Not Part of a Youth Program
Minors may be present on campus for visits or other activities that are not part of a Youth Program (e.g. campus tours for prospective students’ families, visits by local school district classes, etc.) where custody, control, and care of a minor is not the responsibility of the institution but instead held by non-University teachers, official chaperones, parents, or legal guardians. In such cases, the project or visit organizer representing the University should contact OAASS to initiate a request.
2. Employment of Minors
Minors under 18 years of age may not be hired to perform particularly hazardous activities such as driving motor vehicles or operating power-driven machinery. Minors under 16 years of age, including temporary employees, are not allowed to work in laboratories, clinics or process areas where exposure to radioactive materials, radiation-generating equipment, hazardous or toxic materials may occur. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that all minors are closely supervised while in a laboratory, clinic or process area and that any sources of hazard are stored in a safe manner prior to entry. Individuals responsible for minors employed by the University (either on a regular or temporary basis) must obtain authorization from SHERM before confirmation of the minor’s effective date of hire.
Departments must submit to SHERM a completed Clearance Request for Minors in the Workplace form, signed and dated by the minor's parent or legal guardian and the supervisor before confirmation of the effective date of hire. The department must ensure that the minor receives a copy of the completed form.
Once a request has been approved or disapproved by SHERM, it will be sent to Human Resources Employment Services and to the supervisor who wishes to hire the minor. Proof of age may be ascertained from the documents listed on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Supervisors should contact Human Resources Employment Services to coordinate the minor’s employment in accordance with HOOP Policy 14 Employment Eligibility.
For information regarding applicable child labor laws, contact Human Resources.
- Office of Academic Affairs and Student Success (questions regarding Youth Programs and other visits/projects involving minors)
- Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management (questions regarding the safety of minors)
- Human Resources (questions regarding employment of minors)