[FRC Blog] Take The Time for Youth Safety

Last fall, FIRST ® Robotics Competition shared a blog reminding our community of the resources available to help protect our youth.

As teams are reforming for the new season, we want to remind you to take time to make sure all team members, adults and youth, understand their role in creating a safe environment.

Start with the FIRST ® Youth Protection webpage and FIRST Youth Protection guide. Make sure everyone understands the FIRST Code of Conduct and Reporting Requirements as well as where to Report a Concern. Safeguarding youth is everyone’s responsibility, so if you “See something, Say something!" Anyone that observes something inappropriate or experiences something that makes them uncomfortable should report the behavior to a trusted adult; whether that is a mentor, coach, event volunteer, or FIRST Youth Protection.

Individuals who fail to adhere to the Code of Conduct or FIRST Youth Protection policies may be excluded from working in FIRST programs and at FIRST events.

Each US and Canada-based FIRST team is required to have at least two adult mentors who have passed Youth Protection screening prior to being able to register for events. All adults who regularly work with youth team members should also complete a Youth Protection background screen. Adults who have not obtained Youth Protection Clearance may only work with teams under the close direction of a lead coach/mentor or a screened adult designee. It is recommended that any adult regularly involved in a team’s activities (I.e. involved in 30% or more of the team’s activities) complete Youth Protection screening and training. Lead mentors are responsible for determining whether other adults are “regularly involved” and can invite them to be screened from their Team registration dashboard by selecting “Request Screening” (see screenshot example below).

While screening through the dashboard is only available for volunteers in the US and Canada, the other parts of the FIRST Youth Protection guide and training are applicable globally. Groups of mentors may take the training together, which can provide an opportunity to ask questions and discuss scenarios.

Teams should also host a Team Safety Meeting early in the season, covering everything from safe tool operation to safe interactions. The FIRST Safety Manual for FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Youth Protection webpage for all programs have resources that can be used during these meetings.

The rules that apply to in-person meetings can also apply to online communications. From page 20 of the Youth Protection guide, coaches should not initiate contact with any students via any FIRST platforms, social media, or other electronic means unless it is about a FIRST-related project or activity. When contacting youth participants about FIRST or team related activities, parents, guardians, and other team coaches/mentors should be included on the communications whenever possible/practical.

All FIRST participants and volunteers of any age may report Youth Protection Concerns, Medical Incidents, and other concerns to FIRST using the FIRST Reporting Portal, or by emailing [email protected]. Remember that in the United States there are laws that require individuals working with youth to report known or suspected instances of child abuse and neglect. You can find a complete list of State Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Numbers and other contact information.

FIRST is always working on new youth protection training and awareness materials and we welcome feedback from coaches and mentors on what would be most useful. If you have suggestions, questions, or would like more information, please email [email protected].

You can find more information, training, and guidance on the FIRST Youth Protection page.


Can anyone here give an example of a scenario where an adult would be registered with a team through the FIRST Dashboard, but not be involved with a team for 30% or more of the team’s activities?

^ Several examples provided by others below.

I didn’t realize that I as a lead mentor could request another registered mentor on our team to complete Youth Protection Screening through the Dashboard. Knowing that’s an option now, I’m trying to understand why Youth Protection Screening isn’t just mandatory for all adults registered to a team on their Dashboard… :thinking:


It’s not uncommon for mentors to not be removed even after they’re no longer involved on a day-to-day basis, or someone like a financial person be listed even if they only interact with other mentors to infrequently handle reimbursements, and don’t interact with students at all. I know I am still listed on my former team’s mentor list, years after I stopped actively mentoring them.


I have no clue either, I make it a requirement for any mentor/ parent that wants to travel or spend more than a single meeting or two helping out, which thus far no mentor/ parent has refused .

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Fair enough, definitely some reasons that I hadn’t thought of (the being registered still on other teams is a category I myself fall under).

With the understanding that there definitely are mentors who have little to no interaction with a team’s youth in certain situations, I still don’t understand why it is FIRST would choose to make Youth Protection Screening optional for adults/mentors (it’s hardly even “optional” in that IMO it’s not the slightest bit obvious or intuitive that a lead mentor can request the screening be done).

Perhaps someone here has some insight on the matter that I do not? :woman_shrugging:

  • Once a week mentors
  • Mentors that are on break from FIRST due to non-FIRST reasons
  • Sponsor contacts
  • Parent drivers under some rulesets

Not that I think any of these should be excluded from screening, just giving examples.


I would not be surprised if screening required becomes required as the default. Just being available is a relatively new thing for First. I remember when First YPP was a general be nice. Do keep in mind the limitations of this. It is a third party data base search. It returns a pass/fall based on whatever criteria the third party has set up. It will not tell you if the person is a good choice to work with children or young adults. Ultimately that is the responsibility of the team management to insure mentors are a good fit for the team.

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Others posted above with perfectly valid reasons why a listed mentor is not that involved. Certainly my team has a handful of “mentors” who rarely come in to a meeting and when they do, they are always in a big room with dozens of people including other mentors (but they are screened anyway; see below)

As for why FIRST does not require YPP for all registered mentors, honestly, it does not seem necessary for all teams. Our team is school based, and all adults who spend any significant time with students need to go through the school’s background check system. This includes parents if they are with any student who is not their child. In this kind of case, does YPP add anything? Is it more an added burden that discourages mentoring?

Just to be clear, I am all for making sure everyone is appropriately checked. But maybe teams already have that requirement because of other responsibilities.

Even if the team already has the requirement does it hurt to do it again? I get three separate background checks for youth sports. One is because the local organization requires it. The other two are other state wide organizations. They could assume a local organization is handling it, but it’s not an issue to just require I do it again.


Is there any harm in making it a requirement? If the YPP Screening prevents even just 1 person from being able to join a team with a prior history of YPP related concerns, I’d call that a success and worth a little inconvenience/“burden”.

*Emphasis there is mine

The maybe in that sentence is the key. There is zero guarantee that a team participating in FIRST IS taking appropriate steps to screen the adults interacting with their youth. At which point we circle back to my question again of, “Is there any harm in making it a requirement?”


It’s also important to note that screening can only be a small part of any protection system. Even if done perfectly, it is only going to detect people who have already offended! It’s even more important to set behavior expectations (and enforce them!) and good reporting mechanisms that students know about and feel enabled to use.


I definitely, absolutely agree that if it stops one bad incident, then it is worth it.

However, will it? It has been a while since I did the YPP (I am not a lead mentor), but as far as I remember, it did not require a background check and did involve some online “course work”. Definitely a repeat for me.

Also, don’t forget: this is just for the US (background checks, I mean). What is FIRST supposed to do for international? Honestly, I don’t know what they are requiring for non-US teams.

So, my position (weakly held) is just that I think it is reasonable for FIRST to make resources available, make them widely known, but leave hard requirements over all mentors up to the teams.

Some TLAs are being used interchangeably.

YPP: youth protection policy: mostly First Policy, but it might mean the schools or even the government.

YPT: Youth protection training. Maybe in person. Maybe online. Maybe sometime else.

Back ground check / screening. Is there aTLA for this?

For example: my state YPP makes me a mandatory reporter. My school YPP is mandatory. I follow First YPP if it doesn’t conflict the other 2. It usually doesn’t in a meaningful way.

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I so appreciate FIRST continuing to push out this message and I appreciate that this was a joint blog post from all three programs’ top executives. Clearly, even among Chief users, there are people who don’t already know the contents of this blog post, so we should be repeating the messages loudly and often:

Get screened, get others screened, get trained, get other people trained, report problems, make it easy for other people to report problems.

I’m still wishing FIRST had more conviction and certainly in the requests. For example:

In the same paragraph, we got two contradictory directives:

  1. “All adults who regularly work with you team members should”
  2. “it is recommended that any adult regularly involved”

“Should” and “recommended” are not the same. Neither means it’s required. I understand there may be barriers to requiring screening (not what this post is about), but there is no reason in my mind to be this lenient.

I would like FIRST to say:

All adults who regularly work with your team should get screened.

Full stop.

FIRST believes everyone should get screened, whether they can mandate/enforce that or not. Don’t get wishy washy.

Overall, I’m still appreciative of the slow but certain progress.


I don’t know, Jared. I’ve never been slow to criticize but I don’t think I’m seeing the shades of meaning quite as vividly as you’re seeing them.

In particular, I don’t think FIRST would ever put the phrase “get screened” in an official communication, it feels too informal to meet the moment. Any editor would replace it with “complete a Youth Protection background screen”. Thus the final version that we see.


Sure. The second half of the sentence wasn’t really my point, but I probably should have been more precise.

I would like FIRST to say: “mentors should X,” not “we recommend mentors X.”

Maybe this distinction doesn’t matter to others. To me, it seemed oddly soft on something I think we’d all like to see pushed as hard as possible.

This particular distinction doesn’t matter to me. The recommendations do seem soft though and I think a lot of us would like to see harder and more stringent requirements, as hard as they may be to fulfill for some.

That being said, I commend the timely communication, even if I personally wish it had come about a month earlier.


As someone actually making that decision, I interpret both statements having the same “force”. “mentors should” is more concise.

One bit of communication nitpickery that I do feel very strongly about is how the “Team Blast” emails are titled.

An email went out Thursday, Aug 31 at ~3pm eastern titled “Team Blast: Holiday Hours” which contained several different announcements, including two paragraphs on YPP topics.

But only… HQ being closed for Labor Day… was important enough to be mentioned in the title of the email? What?


I found this surprising too. I happened to read that blast for whatever reason that day, but I typically skip reading through emails from HQ when the Subject line is informing me they’ll be shut for some specific holiday (especially during the summer months).

I’d imagine there are a decent number of others who do the same…

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