Unattended Children and Vulnerable Adult Policy

The Unattended Children and Vulnerable Adult Policy covers information about: who is regarded as an unattended child or vulnerable adult, and requirements of Parents, or Legal Guardians, regarding their child or vulnerable adult.

Unattended Children and Vulnerable Adult Policy

The Hamilton County Library wishes to provide an inviting and safe environment encouraging community, connection, and education for patrons of all ages. Sharing this environment with other people requires that everyone follow the Patron Behavior Guidelines established by the Library Board of Trustees and posted in the library building and on the Library website, www.syracuselibrary.info.

The Library encourages children and vulnerable adults to use and enjoy its facilities, resources, and services. While the Library is concerned for the safety of children and vulnerable adults in and around library facilities, the Library does not act in in place of parents. A parent, legal guardian, teacher, custodian, or caregiver is responsible for behavior, safety, and location of their children or vulnerable adults at the Library. Library employees have many duties and do not serve as a substitute for daycare or babysitting. The Library is not responsible for any consequences of parents, legal guardians, teachers, custodians, or caregivers not fulfilling their responsibilities. Library staff is not responsible for children coming to or leaving the building.

The safety of children and vulnerable adults is a priority for the Library. However, the Library is a public building, open to all. Therefore, they may be at risk when they are left unattended. There are many factors that could place them in danger.

  • Children and vulnerable adults could be approached by or tempted to leave with an unscrupulous stranger.
  • They could become frightened, anxious, or ill.
  • They could have no place to go in the event of an unexpected closing.
  • They could encounter hazards such as electrical equipment.
  • Additionally, they usually lack the necessary maturity to handle emergency situations such as severe weather, fire, or civil disturbance.

The Library will adhere to the following guidelines concerning the care and behavior of children and vulnerable adults.

  • Children under the age of seven (7) and children and vulnerable adults who are unable or unwilling to care for themselves may not be left alone in, or outside, the Library and must have adequate supervision while in the Library.
    • Adequate is defined as a person age 12 and older who is accepting full responsibility for the child, at all times while on library property.
  • Children age seven (7) and over and vulnerable adults who can understand and follow the Patron Behavior Guidelines and who can care for themselves are allowed to be in the library unattended. They should have contact information for someone who can assist them in an emergency. Even older children may lack the maturity to be alone or away from the care giver for a given time.
  • Library staff will attempt to contact a parent, legal guardian, custodian or caregiver when:
    • The health or safety of an unattended child or vulnerable adult is in doubt.
    • A child or vulnerable adult is frightened while alone at the Library.
    • The behavior of an unattended child or vulnerable adult disturbs other Library customers and has caused staff to ask the individual to leave the Library.
    • An unattended child or vulnerable adult has not been met by a parent, legal guardian, custodian, or responsible caregiver at closing time. Library staff will make a best effort to contact a parent or caregiver. If a responsible caregiver has not been contacted within 15 minutes after closing, the child or vulnerable adult, will be walked across to the local law enforcement.
    • If a parent, legal guardian, custodian, or caregiver cannot be reached, Library staff will contact law enforcement officials to take charge of the situation involving the unattended child or vulnerable adult.

Parents, legal guardians, custodians, caregivers, children and vulnerable adults who are in violation of this policy or the Patron Behavior Guidelines are subject to suspension of library privileges.

An unattended child generally is defined as:

  • A child under the age of seven (7) who is not accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, custodian or caregiver age 12 or older;
  • A child under the age of eighteen (18) who is not accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, custodian and who does not know or have the information necessary to contact a parent, legal guardian or other responsible adult;
  • A child under the age of eighteen (18) who is not accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, custodian and who is not picked up by closing time and who needs assistance procuring transportation;
  • A child under the age of eighteen (18) who is not accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, custodian and who appears to need staff help beyond assistance with normal library services.

A vulnerable adult is an adult who should not be left alone in the Library or is unable to reasonably care for himself/herself in an emergency situation. This includes adults who are mentally or physically challenged and who need staff help beyond assistance with normal library services and are not under the direct supervision of a parent, legal guardian, or custodian. Additionally, an individual is considered a vulnerable adult when he/she is not picked up by closing time and needs assistance procuring transportation.

A pdf version of the Patron Behavior Policy is available online and at the Hamilton County Library

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