Youth at UW

Incident response and reporting

Guidelines for responding to incidents involving minors participating in UW programs PDF available

The most important responsibility of any employee who engages with youth (minors under the age of 18) participating in University programs is to protect them from harm. In the event of accident, injury, or other incident that poses a threat to the safety or well-being of any youth, it is important to respond in a proactive manner.

A proactive response includes:

  • Intervening quickly to prevent or minimize harm
  • Assessing a situation and making adjustments to prevent a future re-occurrence
  • Documenting incidents with all relevant details
  • Reporting the incident, as appropriate, to the appropriate individual or office

This document provides basic guidance on responding to incidents involving youth who participate in UW programs. Some steps outlined below are required per University policy; others are not mandatory, but recommended best practices.

Certain incidents may be characterized as “low risk” while others may be considered “high risk.” Different actions apply depending on the level of risk associated with a particular incident. With low risk incidents, simply documenting the incident internally after addressing it will suffice. In high risk cases, it is necessary to document and report an incident to another authority.

Tips for effective documentation and reporting of incidents:

  • Gather information on who (the affected youth, witnesses), what (a detailed account of what happened, including actions taken by staff and others), where (including on UW property or in the community and relevant environmental factors that may have caused or contributed to the incident), when (time, date), and why (any objective information that contributes to an understanding of the incident’s cause or origin).
  • Don’t delay in reporting and documenting, complete these steps within a 24-48 hour period, depending on the urgency of the situation and need for immediate intervention.

Please note that incident reporting requirements for employees and volunteers may differ slightly than those outlined here for a youth program participant. Consult with your department administrator regarding requirements to report incidents involving employees or volunteers.

Responding to low risk incidents

A “low risk” incident is one where the impact to an individual or group of youths is both minor and temporary. Low risk incidents are not caused by a hazard in the environment.

Low risk incident occurs
Document internally (see sample minor incident log)
Retain records for 6 years past the end of the program year


Examples of low risk incidents

  • Minor injuries e.g., scrapes or bumps to the body that do not require medical attention beyond basic first aid, and are not the result of an unsafe condition or hazard in the program environment.
  • Non-communicable illnesses that result in a child needing to sit out of an activity, or be sent home for the day.
  • Behavioral problems, or verbal conflicts between participants, that necessitate staff intervention.
    • Note: If a behavior plan/contract is initiated this should be documented in an incident report.
  • Other incidents at the discretion of the program that do not rise to the level of a high risk incident.

There is some grey area within these examples. When in doubt, treat an incident as ‘high risk.’

Responding to high risk incidents

A “high risk” incident originates from a hazard or unsafe condition in the program or the environment.  The incident poses a serious risk to an individual or group of youth. This may also include a “near miss,” i.e., a hazard that if not addressed could cause harm in the future.

High risk incident occurs
Document internally using Incident report form
Report to relevant authority (as applicable)
Keep records for 6 years from the date of the end of participation


Examples of high risk incidents

  • Suspected child abuse or neglect
    Report to: DSHS Child Protective Services (CPS) or police (911 if emergency); also report to SafeCampus if the incident involves a UW Program
  • Injury of staff or participant that requires professional medical attention, or that was caused by interacting with the environment
    Report to: OARS, Facilities Care Team
  • A threat of serious harm to self or others
    Report to: 911
  • Anything requiring intervention by police (e.g., missing child, safety concerns)
    Report to: 911
  • Hazardous materials exposure or spills
    Report to: 911 and EHS Spill Advice line
  • Termination or withdrawal of a participant with potential intersections with civil rights, e.g., concerns regarding discrimination
    Report to: Disability Services Office (as applicable), Title IX office (as applicable)
  • Critical staff errors, such as incorrect administration of medication, or an injury caused by a staff person
    Report to: OARS

Note: In addition to the points of contact listed here, contact UW Risk Services in any case where there is a concern for a possible claim of negligence or liability.

Resources for responding to and reporting incidents involving minors

Note: These resources are applicable to any UW property unless otherwise noted

Resource Other UW contact information
Sample Incident Log
PDF | Word
Sample Incident Report form
PDF | Word


Online Accident Reporting System workplace incident reporting tool
Environment Health & Safety (EH&S) Spill Advice 206-543-0467
Risk Services
Disability Services Office


(UW Policy) Executive Order 56, Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect


Title IX Coordinator


(UW Policy) Administrative Policy Statement (APS) 10.9 Minors in Labs and Shops


SafeCampus 206-685-7233


UW Records Management Services


Facilities Services


Additional information on youth program safety and response protocols- YouthatUW website