Young Chicago Authors is committed to the safety and well-being of our youth participants. A key component of this commitment is creating a culture of transparency around safe space policies and initiatives.

In March 2021, YCA announced a 90 day safe space plan which focused on listening to our community, undergoing a third party audit of staff and protocol and establishing escalation accountability policies for our team.

This 90 day plan resulted in the following changes to our organization’s structure and expectation of service:

Archive of Safe Space process:

Statements from New YCA Leadership

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Goals Overview

  • Create an infrastructure that supports the thorough safe space mechanisms a youth-facing arts organization requires
  • Acknowledge and recover the silences that have been created since 2013
  • Address the harms such silences produced
  • Build a culture of transparency and open dialogue

Plan Overview

With the help of external partners, our initiatives include:

  • Public townhalls/listening sessions
  • Mandatory, routine trainings for YCA Staff
    • Training topics will include consent, mentor relationship boundaries, speaking with young people about safe space, recognizing and preventing sexual abuse and grooming, mandated reporting, and more
    • Trainings specific to the vulnerability inherent to working in the arts, working with youth, and, specifically, working in the arts with youth
    • Training series with Creative Interventions Toolkit and Fumbling Towards Repair to develop and train staff on accountability processes
  • Routine public workshops for participants
    • Consent trainings
    • YCA Safe Space Practices & Safe Space Creed Workshops
    • Workshops on unlearning and dismantling patriarchy and rape culture
  • Gather and provide resources for our students
    • Mental health resources for people triggered by content shared in our spaces
    • Resources for people who are experiencing or have experienced harm
    • Partnering with organizations that are first responders to harm
  • A full evaluation of staff practices and the safety of young people within our space by a third party firm and an immediate follow-up to address any issues revealed
  • Create a disclosure mechanism for people who may experience harm in relation to YCA
  • Develop publicly available accountability steps/system for when harm is brought to YCA’s attention

Next Steps

  1. YCA Town hall on March 16th 2021
  2. Identifying external partners
  3. Forming YCA’s Accountability team
  4. Releasing a 90 day plan timeline

Updates as of 3/24/2021

  • Town hall sessions: We have completed three town halls to date with students, educators and affiliated artists that have replaced our weekly programs on Tuesdays and Saturdays
  • Mental health support: We have partnered with a clinical therapist to assist with our community outreach + have outlined three categories of support mechanisms for staff around self care and mindfulness
  • External partnerships: We have started conversations with potential partners to assist with our third party audit of staff practices, safe space policies, town hall planning and public workshops
  • HR Policies: We have begun to outline staff policies for escalation, reporting and disclosure. This includes the release of our new email, which can be used to report incidences, provide feedback on our 90 day safe space plan and ask any questions related to safe space at YCA

Next Steps

  1. We will host three town halls with our educators, national partners and programming participants
  2. We will release the outline of our Accountability Team structure
  3. Identify a partner for our Third party staff audit

Full 90-day Safe Space Plan

Previous Safe Space Statements

If you would like to report an incident that happened at YCA, please email: