Section 3.0 - Program Operations

Illinois Department of Human Services
Bureau of Youth Intervention Services

3.0 - Program Operations

Revised Date:  July 2013

The Program Operations section specifies the standards and procedures for operating a high quality Teen REACH program. Program Operations addresses recommended qualifications for personnel, volunteers, and interns, and introduces the Council on Accreditation (COA) standards for implementing a high quality after school program ( Other agency protocols for health and safety are also addressed.

The Teen REACH Benchmarks (doc) and the Teen REACH Benchmarks Assessment Tool (doc) were developed to assess the degree to which programs are meeting their goals and providing quality, comprehensive services. The Teen REACH Benchmarks will be used in the following ways:

  • Provide Teen REACH programs with clearly identified practices and guideposts for increasing the quality of services they provide to youth and families.
  • Provide IDHS staff with critical information to assess the quality of Teen REACH programs.
  • Provide IDHS staff vital information to enhance the overall quality of the Teen REACH program.
  • Assist the overall evaluation of Teen REACH by creating the ability to link program quality with youth outcomes.

3.1. Personnel, Volunteers, and Interns - Purpose

Revised Date: July 2013

All Teen REACH job descriptions must be included with the annual program plan and be on file with IDHS. A file must be made for each employee, containing at a minimum, his/her job description, resume, results of background check, and verification of training attended. A record of orientation and trainings attending including the web based eCornerstone reporting system, should be kept in the employee file.

  1. Supervision and Accountability
    • At a minimum, a 0.5 FTE Teen REACH coordinator must be committed to the program. This is especially true of multi-agency sites and collaborations. While other staff can be PTE (Part Time Equivalent), it is critical that monitoring, training, and supervision time be scheduled on a regular basis.
  2. Volunteers
    • Volunteers are defined as adults over 18 years old whose talents and time are given to the program, but who do not receive an hourly rate or salary. Volunteers can be recruited from faith based organizations, parents, local schools, local businesses, and the provider's board of directors.
  3. Mentors
    • Adult mentors are considered volunteers, and should have the same information and structure as do other program volunteers.
  4. Interns
    • Interns are individuals over the age of 16 whose role in the program is to assist staff while they are learning a specific aspect of the program. Each intern must have a file containing a basic job description, sign-in/sign-out sheets, documentation of an orientation to the Teen REACH program and its goals. Interns must meet at least monthly with the program director or direct supervisor about their work and any issues involving individual children. The program director must have the sign in sheet and name of the intern's supervising teacher.
  5. Teen Employment
    • Paid student aide positions to assist adult group leaders should be treated as employees, complete with job descriptions; qualifications; supervision; evaluations; and time sheets. Employed teens are not considered as program participants, but should appear on the program plan, under staff. Teens may be employed at age 16 or more; those with a work permit can be employed at age 14 or 15. Local high schools can be instrumental in helping teens obtain this document.
      1. Teen Supervision Requirement
        • Teen employees (group aides, teacher assistants, etc.) still in high school and/or under 18 years old cannot be used in place of adult employees, and must not be left alone with groups of younger children. Teen volunteers or interns must not be left unsupervised with younger participants.

3.2. Program Standards

Revised Date: July 2013

  1. COA Standards for Quality School-Age Care
    • COA Standards establishes program standards for assuring quality, holistic programming and identifies minimum standards to assure that programming takes place in a safe, clean, secure environment that is in good repair. Teen REACH sites are expected to adhere to these standards.
    • The standards indicate that policies and procedures be written and implemented to assure the safety and well-being of participants including standards for: Discipline and Conflict Resolution Among Participants and Emergency Procedures for Illness and Injury. These must be developed for each program site and appear in Appendix Z Customized Teen REACH Operations. (See Appendices & Forms)
    • COA Standards for Quality School-Age Care is available from:
  2. Serving Snacks/Meals
    • Each day, Teen REACH programs must offer nutritious snacks to the participants. All food must be served in accordance with relevant local and state health standards for food preparation and handling and meet the standards of the Council on Accreditation. For more information, please refer to this organization's website, found at
    • While program funds may be used to purchase food, programs must demonstrate that they researched and applied for assistance through the food programs sponsored through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), found at; the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), found at; or through America's Second Harvest, found at
  3. Dispensing Medication
    • Teen REACH programs are discouraged from administering over-the-counter medications to participants. If the Teen REACH program decides to handle and dispense prescription drugs, a protocol must be added and adhere to the Illinois Licensing Standards for Day Care Centers Section 407.360 Medications. The protocol must include:
      • Prescription medication shall be accepted only in its original container.
      • Prescription medications shall be labeled with the full pharmacy label.
      • Medication shall be administered in a manner that protects the safety of the child.
      • A specific staff person shall be designated to administer and properly document the dispensation of the medication each day.
      • Prescription medication shall be administered as required by a physician, subject to the receipt of appropriate releases from parents which shall be on file and regularly updated. Prescription medication shall be used only for the child named on the label.
      • The program site shall maintain a record of the dates, times administered, dosage, prescription number, and the name of the person administering the medication.
      • Medications shall be safely stored.
      • Medication containers shall have child-protection caps whenever possible.
      • All medication, whether refrigerated or unrefrigerated, shall be kept in locked cabinets or other containers that are inaccessible to children and that are designated and used only for this purpose.
      • Medications shall be kept in a well-lighted area.
      • Medications shall be kept out of the reach of children.
      • Medications shall not be kept in rooms where food is prepared or stored, unless refrigerated in a separate locked container.
      • Medication shall not be used beyond the date of expiration.
      • When a child no longer needs to receive medication, the unused portion or empty bottle shall be returned to the parent.
      • Any topical products, such as sunscreen, or insect repellant, whether supplied by the parent or by the program site, shall be approved by the parent in writing prior to use by the child.
  4. Head Lice
    • Each Teen REACH program site must have a protocol for addressing infestations of head lice in the Teen REACH population. The protocol must include:
      • Frequency of regular head checks.
      • Informing families of those affected with head lice.
      • Referrals for treatment.
      • Exclusion of those affected with head lice and program re-entry procedures.
      • Informing all other families in the program about the infestation.
      • Ensuring the cleanliness of the Teen REACH participants and decreasing incidents of shared hair grooming products and head gear.
      • Parent education on head lice: identification, treatment of the children, and household extermination of head lice.
      • Teen REACH funds cannot be used to purchase prescription or over-the counter pediculosides to treat lice.
  5. Asthma
    • Asthma and its management has become a critical feature for the health of young school age children and teens. Each Teen REACH program site is required to have a protocol that addresses asthmatic participants and the management of asthma. Protocols should include:
      • Written Parental Consent form that identifies health issues that may keep a participant from fully participating in physical sports and recreation.
      • Staff training on environmental triggers for asthma.
      • Staff training on early signs of asthma episodes and appropriate interpersonal responses.
      • All participants who are identified with asthma must have a written Asthma Action Plan before participating in the program. This action plan must include what to do in case of mild, moderate, and severe episodes, as well as who to call. These contacts should include: doctor, hospital, ambulance or paramedic service used, and family member.
      • Agency protocol must also include what staff will do the intervention during an asthma episode. 

3.3. Child Abuse/Neglect Reporting and Staff Screening

Revised Date: July 2013

The following protocols must appear in the Teen REACH Policy and Procedures Manual, Appendix Z.

  1. Mandated Reporting
    • Per the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act of 1975, those adults working with children and youth under the age of 18 years old having reasonable cause to believe a child known to them in their professional or official capacity may be abused or neglected shall immediately report or cause a report to be made to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services' (DCFS) Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-252-2873).
    • Mandated reporters include recreational program or facility personnel and human service personnel who work with children under the age of 18 years old.
  2. Suspected Family Cases of Abuse or Neglect
    • All Teen REACH providers and program sites must have a written procedure for reporting suspected cases of abuse and neglect that take place outside the center.
      • Informing parents of the provider's role as mandated reporter. This may be included in orientation packets and information to parents;
      • Identifying the person(s) on staff who will be responsible for filing such reports and informing the parents;
      • Identifying the roles and responsibilities of group workers and volunteers in reporting such cases;
      • Documenting all such incidents in a child's file; and
      • Identifying the person(s) responsible for following up on reports made to the DCFS Hotline and with the family.
  3. Suspected Agency Cases of Abuse or Neglect
    • All Teen REACH providers and program sites must have a written procedure that covers expectations for the safe management of children and youth by staff and program volunteers, as well as handling cases of suspected abuse or neglect that may have occurred while the participant is on program site. The procedure must include:
      • Supervision of staff in contact with children and youth;
      • Clearly established norms of behavior for staff, especially training and procedures for handling children and youth with problem behaviors; and
      • A method for identifying, documenting, and reporting suspected cases of abuse or neglect within the agency; interim plans for the employee and child(ren) involved in the report while such an investigation is occurring; disciplinary action for employees in such cases that are founded by DCFS.
  4. Screening of Adults Working with Participants
    • Teen REACH providers must have written procedures for hiring and screening staff and volunteers who work with children ages 18 and under. Each program site must determine the level of background check that will be utilized for staff, volunteers, and interns over 18 years of age. Liability insurance should also cover adults working with children and youth.
  5. Background Checks
    • Background checks are required for all program staff and volunteers who have one-on-one contact with children and youth. Funded programs are required to have a written protocol on file requiring background checks, as well as evidence of their completion.
  6. Types of Background Checks and Screenings
    • The following resources are available to programs in establishing protocols for background checks and screening:
      • The Illinois State Police Department provides fingerprinting and Sexual Offender listing.
      • CANTS, the child abuse and neglect tracking system determines whether an individual is currently alleged or has been indicated as a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect.
        Illinois Department of Children and Family Service CANTS listings can be obtained through:
        • Processing Control Unit and Background Checks
          Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
      • Costs are an allowable expenditure.

3.4. Customized Teen REACH Operations

Revised Date: July 2013

Each Teen REACH provider must customize this manual by adding the following information in Appendix Z:

  • Organizational Chart
  • Teen REACH Program Plan
  • Teen REACH Spending Plan
  • Job Descriptions (for each staff member, volunteer, intern)
  • New Staff Orientation Agenda
  • Individual Supervision Agenda
  • Team Meeting Agendas
  • Subcontract/School Agreements
  • Subcontract Monitoring Process
  • Agency Protocols
  • Medical: Dispensing Medications; Asthma; Head Lice
  • Discipline and Conflict Resolution Procedure
  • Illness, Injury and Emergency Procedures
  • Transportation Procedure and Criteria
  • Staff Supervision of Arrival and Departure of Participants
  • Visitor Policy: sign-In and Sign Out
  • Hand Washing Procedures (Posted)
  • Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act: Suspected Cases-External, Internal
  • Staff Screening Procedure
  • Teen REACH Advisory Board Rosters, Minutes and/or Agendas
  • Enrollment and Termination Procedures
  • eCornerstone Policies and Procedures
  • Tracking Inventory
  • Serving Snacks and Meals
  • Internet Blocking Software for Youth Accessible PC's

Links & Resources

Program administration and reporting forms, individual file forms, and general program information and resources, are available by calling the Bureau of Youth Intervention Services, Teen REACH at (217) 557-2109 and/or on the DHS Website at