Safety is a top concern, said Derek Kinsey, Boys & Girls Clubs director of operations.
“Food, transportation and safety are most important to parents, then comes the club’s programs,” Kinsey said. “All these components make a well-rounded person. Without safety and order, everything is going to be out of sync.”
Administrators at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland tried for two years to find the funds for a visual security system. A start-up program called Blue Iris was initially used to monitor the Tucker Unit on Third Street. The additional security highlighted several benefits.
“People knowing they can be caught on tape prevents issues like theft and bullying,” Kinsey said. “It also keeps the staff and kids aware and alert of their surroundings.”
Several cameras are located at each unit. The main unit on Third Street has the most, to cover its many hallways, rooms and activity centers. Real-time footage relayed from the cameras to monitor screens allows for continuous updates. Directors use the cameras to ensure everything in their units is running smoothly.
Another benefit is the proof of outcomes. Kinsey said the security cameras boost safety while showing proof of club programs. Footage reveals which methods work and which programs need tweaking.
According to Kinsey, the cameras are an ongoing effort to heighten safety.
“We have about 350 kids come through our doors every day,” Kinsey said. “There is a ratio of one staff member for every 20 kids for the children’s safety.”
The clubs also transport about 200 members on a daily basis. All children who step on to the bus must sign in by writing their name and their time of arrival. Bus drivers mark off the kids as they leave the bus. Kids are then requested to sign-in with their personal user number before entering the club.
Transitions occur when students arrive at the clubs, move between activities and exit for the day. At least one staff member always greets and sees the children off. A tracking system operated through mounted iPads on classroom walls keeps tabs on students.
“One mainframe computer is at the front desk which can monitor everything,” Kinsey said. “During our weekly staff meetings, we go over all of our numbers to see how clean our data is and how [thorough] we have been in our recording.”
Parents can also take comfort in the security cameras for another reason.
“We have a great staff, but some parents who do not know all the workers can feel pretty good knowing the staff cannot say something happened when it did not,” Kinsey said.
Additional security at the clubs was made possible through a grant funded by the Rotary Club of Cleveland, Kinsey said.
“Rotary has been a big player by supporting the club on causes that are hard to receive funding for,” Kinsey said. “We do not have much room in the budget for enhancement like security cameras.”
According to Kinsey, other projects aided by Rotary include a new playground, a gym curtain and fencing around the club’s field.
Every year, Rotary sets aside an amount of money to be granted to various projects. Organizations write up their grant proposals to be reviewed by a board. Money often goes to projects promising to impact the most people in the community.
“We look at a few different aspects during the grant process,” said Wayne Wilhelm, a member of the board. “For example, how many people it touches and how well it aligns with Rotary’s worldwide goals.”
Another member of the board, William “Bill” Creech, said the security camera setup impressed him.
“There are a lot of hallways and rooms where they do activities. ... It is kind of hard to monitor the whole building,” Creech said. “Hopefully, when an incident occurs, like a child being injured, it will be easier to see the issue.”
Creech also mentioned his admiration of the club.
“It has a special place in my heart,” Creech said. “They service a lot of people and do such a wonderful job.”