FIRST Youth Protection Program

FIRST will strive to create an environment in which team members can grow, learn, and have fun with minimal risk of injury. FIRST will strive to inform everyone involved in its programs of its Youth Protection Program (FIRST YPP), and related resources, and provide assistance in meeting its standards. FIRST will maintain a Youth Protection Department (FIRST YPD) at its Manchester, New Hampshire headquarters for the purpose of fulfilling its commitment to protecting youth.

pdf_iconFIRST Youth Protection Program Guide (3.83 MB)

 Forms (2.46 MB)
(Note: These forms are also contained in the FIRST Youth Protection Program Guide PDF above.)

Video Resources

Keeping Kids Safe

Team Safety Meeting Video - High School version

Team Safety Meeting Video - Middle School version

Team Safety Meeting Resources for Elementary Schools

pdf_icon Traffic Light Activity

pdf_icon Surprises vs. Secrets Activity

pdf_icon Buddy System Activity

More information regarding the YPP screening/clearance process and what to expect:

Download Adobe Reader

YPP Frequently Asked Questions

When is the actual implementation scheduled to start?

May 1, 2014.

I am concerned that the FLL Lead Coach screening process will slow down registration and product ordering, not only in May and early June when schools are closing out their budgets, but also for the last minute teams in September too.

FLL Lead Coaches will use the Team Registration System that has been in place and used for years by FRC, FTC, and Jr.FLL. Purchasers (non-Lead Coach purchasers) may register and pay for teams throughout the registration period (no screening required). They will then invite one or both Lead Coaches.

If the Purchaser is one of the Lead Coaches they may then invite the second Lead Coach.

The screening agency, Verified Volunteers, will integrate into the Team Registration System. Lead Coaches simply select “Go to Screening” and complete their part of that process in minutes (at no cost to the Lead Coaches).

NOTE:  Lead Coaches only need to be screened every 36 months and if you volunteer for an event or another team in a different program your screening status follows you. If you have more than one team you can see them all on a list on your Dashboard even if they are in different FIRST programs.

How long will it take to get the Screening Report back?  How will I know when it is complete?

Screenings that are straightforward will be available within 16 business hours. Screenings that require additional work or clarification will be available within 36 business hours.

You will receive an email when the process is complete and you may log into your account with Verified Volunteers and view a copy of your report. 

Who sees my Screening report?

Only the Youth Protection Program (YPP) staff and you see a copy of your report. YPP will not share that report or any of its contents with anyone else in FIRST community.

It may be too difficult to find a second coach for our team. Suggestions?

The two screened Lead Coaches do not need to attend every meeting. 

For school teams the second coach could be the vice principal or science department head. Schools have the option of one adult per classroom, so the second Lead Coach would not need to attend meetings.

For community or youth program based teams the second coach could be the person who organizes a schedule of parents to help with the team.

FIRST appreciates all that coaches do for their teams and wants to support your efforts.

When I invite other adults to coach with me they often say, “I can’t, I know nothing about robotics and programming?” 

FIRST Program staff is aware that, especially in FLL and Jr.FLL, that these teams are not always coached by engineers. That said, they are putting together short training videos to help coaches and students alike.  Send us your suggestions for topics.

Are there any best practices documented for meeting the needs of very rural and/or low income regions?

At the moment they are not documented and compiled. I invite everyone to send me their ideas and I would be happy to compile results and post here. 

Why Does YPP differentiate between ‘recommendations’ and ‘requirements’?

FIRST Teams operate in a wide range of circumstances. We expect all teams to follow the YPP ‘recommendations’ in addition to ‘requirements’ which are mandatory, but realize that this is not always feasible.

The best judgment of Lead Coach / Mentors has always been, and will continue to be, critical to the safety of FIRST Team members. We expect all Teams to follow every YPP recommendation, unless it is not reasonable to do so in the judgment of the Lead Coaches and Mentors, or it is not compatible with policies set by a hosting school/organization.

If anyone working with a FIRST Team, a parent or Team member believes that a Lead Coach/Mentor’s judgment on a safety matter is not sound, the YPP Code of Conduct provides for that individual to notify our Youth Protection Department (YPD), if they cannot otherwise resolve the matter. Notifications may be done anonymously. The YPD will get involved, if necessary, and take action to protect the affected Team members from a risky situation.

Why does the Code of Conduct refer to ‘boundaries’ rather than provide a more extensive list of unacceptable behaviors?

It is not possible to list all behaviors or all situations that may be risky or harmful, or that may lead to child abuse. Combined with the other provisions of YPP, the concept of boundaries is intended to provide Team members with the most freedom to benefit from the FIRST experience while setting limits that protect them from risk of harm. ‘Appropriate physical or emotional boundaries’ cannot be defined to fit all groups and all circumstances. The Team Members, their parents/guardians, the adults working with the Team, and the school/organization hosting the Team should have an open understanding of the appropriate boundaries which all should respect. If the established boundaries are understood and honored, there is significantly less risk that harm can take place or that behaviors can be misunderstood.

What is the difference between a Coach and a Mentor?

They can be very similar. Younger teams tend to use the term “Coach” more frequently. Older teams may use both with a “Mentor” being someone with a specific expertise that they turn to for specific advice. A “Mentor” can also be the lead person on the team.

What is the difference between a Lead Coach and a Co-Coach or a Lead Mentor Co-Mentor?

Lead Coaches/Mentors are the people who take overall responsibility for the team. They do the planning for the team and recruiting of other coaches or mentors to work with the team.

If my team meets in my classroom do I still have to have a second Lead Coach / Mentor and do they need to be present at meetings?

No, teams that meet in their classroom do not need the second Lead Coach/Mentor present. 

I am involved with homeschool teams.  Is it a problem that we meet in a residence? 

If meeting in a public place is not an option, we understand. Please make sure you take extra precautions to ensure building safety, evacuation plans, etc. The “recommendation” that teams meet in a public place was not made a “requirement” because we understand that FIRST teams meet in a variety of circumstances.

The Disclosure to Obtain Consumer Reports for Volunteer Assignment Purposes might be an issue for many.  Why is it necessary to share financial information?

The Federal Trade Commission defines Background Reports as a Consumer report. The Consumer Report referred to in the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Disclosure is a Criminal Record report. FIRST does not obtain credit or financial reports on volunteers.

In the Code of Conduct it states that adults should not be “Engaging a child in activities that are not related to the FIRST program…”  Are Team building activities considered part of the program?


How does one assess which Team members “do not have adequate support at home”?  

The assessment would be made by the adult working with the team. If a student tells you that they are hungry but there is no food in their house it would appear that they might benefit from some social services.  Note:  you do not need to investigate and have firsthand evidence. A suspicion is adequate to report a concern for a child’s wellbeing.

The Code of Conduct states that “individuals who fail to adhere to the YPP Code of Conduct may be expelled.  How is “adherence” measured, and what is the procedure for enforcement?

We are asking adults working with teams to monitor each other as well as the team members.  To recognized that abuse does not happen suddenly, but can be the end result of multiple behaviors leading up to the causing of harm. If an adult sees/hears another adult inviting a student to go out to his/her car to see something really cool… that observing adult should tell the offending adult that what they are suggesting is against the team rules and explain that crossing behavioral boundaries will not be tolerated. If the behavior stops and limits are respected, there is no problem. If the offending adult re-offends then the non-offending adult/s on the team need be prepared to tell that person that their services will no longer be needed on the team. 

How are walk-on volunteers handled?

Walk on volunteers are handled in the same way they always have been. With supervision, and not assigned to work alone with students.

How will Youth Protection impact the schedule of the day? Will there be a longer time for volunteer check-in needed?

Screening event volunteers should not have much of an impact at event schedules as most are assigned in advance.  Events will not have to check coach credentials. FIRST confirms their Youth Protection Clearance. 

Is there an outline by program of level of emergency and security personnel required?

Emergency service should be what the venue requires and what, event managers deem as adequate. This will vary from event to event and by program and distance to local hospitals, fire departments, etc.

Security personnel are not required but “recommended”. However, some venues will require them.

How does one graciously get teams to leave an event? Our experience has been that they tend to linger and make plans on site which will definitely increase costs?

Message the “building must be empty time” well in advance, with a cushion, i.e., building must be empty by 5:00 p.m. but you really have until 5:30 p.m. Explain the financial impact and ask for Team cooperation. Ask people to let you (or a designated person) know if the time is an issue for their Team in advance.  Make announcements between matches. Appoint sweepers to remind Teams in Pit to begin packing up ahead of the deadline. Offer a prize for the first 10 teams out the door.

If there is a local restaurant where teams can meet afterwards, include this in the prevent announcements, etc. Check with the local restaurants who may want to offer “FIRST Team discounts” if they arrive by a certain time (5:30?).

Do vendors or performers need to be screened in order to attend events?

No.  FIRST does not require that they be screened.  However, the event venue may have a rule that requires it.