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Unattended Child Policy

The Jacksonville Public Library is dedicated to providing a welcoming and safe environment for customers of all ages. Sharing this environment with other people requires that everyone follow The Library Code of Conduct established by the Library Board of Trustees and posted in each library building and on the Library website.

The Jacksonville Public Library wants children to use its facilities and services. Children in the library should always be accompanied by a parent/guardian or assigned caregiver.

When children are left alone they may become frightened or anxious. If they wander through the building they may encounter hazards such as stairs, doors, furniture or electrical equipment. They may also become bored and restless and could disturb the enjoyment and work of others.

The safety of children left alone in a library building is a serious concern of the library staff. The responsibility for the safety and behavior of children in the library rests with the parent/caregiver and not with the library personnel. Library employees cannot be responsible for children who are unattended or demonstrating inappropriate behavior. The following guidelines will be followed concerning the care and behavior of young library users.

Children under the age of 8 must have a parent/caregiver in the immediate vicinity of and in visual contact with the child. The assigned caregiver must be a responsible person and must carry emergency contact information. An exception would be children attending a library program without a parent/caregiver in the room. However, the parent/caregiver is expected to remain in the library building and immediately join the child at the end of the program.

If a child in this age group is found unattended, library staff will attempt to locate the parent/caregiver in the library and inform him/her of the rules. If the parent/caregiver cannot be found, or if the child is found unattended again, the police will be called for assistance.

Children age 8 and older may use the library on their own except during regular school hours. (See Truancy, Home Schooled Students). However, parents are still responsible for the actions and well-being of their child(ren). In accordance with JPL’s Code of Conduct, customers, including children, using inappropriate behavior may be asked to leave the library. If a child 8 and older is not able to leave the library on his/her own then he/she should not be in the library without a parent/caregiver. All unaccompanied children at the library should have the telephone number of someone who can assist them in an emergency.

Truancy

During school hours children 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The Jacksonville Public Library will do its best to uphold Florida State laws on truancy, including Florida Statutes Section 984.13 which states:

"A child may be taken into custody by a law enforcement officer when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the child has run away from home or is absent from school without authorization or is suspended or expelled and is not in the presence of his or her parent or legal guardian during school hours. The officer may deliver a truant to an approved attendance center. A suspended or expelled student may be delivered to an approved alternative to suspension or expulsion program or to the parent or legal guardian."

If the child is truant, he/she will be informed of this law before officers are called and will have the opportunity to use the phone to call a parent/guardian for a ride if needed.

Home Schooled Students

In order to use the public library alone during school hours, those who are ages 8 to 17 and are home schooled will be required to have a letter with them from the parent/guardian stating the child is home schooled. The letter must include emergency contact information. The parent/guardian will be called by staff to confirm the home school status. The school district may also be contacted to confirm home school status. If the child has a Virtual School, or other online school ID, they may log into their account as proof of home school status.

Closing Time

Children who do not have transportation home at closing time will be asked for telephone numbers of people who can pick them up at the library. If a child 17 or younger is not picked up at closing, library staff will call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO). Two staff members are required to stay with children until they are picked up.

City of Jacksonville policy requires employees to report known or suspected abuse or neglect of children and elderly adults, if such knowledge is a result of employment with the City of Jacksonville.


History:
Approved by the Library Board of Trustees: November 1, 2001
Administrative Update: 5/26/05 (Tricia Egbert)
Revision Approved by the Library Board of Trustees: December 11, 2008
Revision Approved by the Library Board of Trustees: April 12, 2012