New foundation launched to improve safety of study abroad programs

study abroad programs

The non-profit ClearCause Foundation was recently launched with the aim of helping to ensure the safety of young people studying and traveling abroad.

"Travel and study abroad can and should be a wonderful experience for a young person, but there are inherent risks and failures in this self-governed industry that must be addressed," ClearCause co-founders Allen and Sheryl Hill, whose son Tyler Hill died during a People to People Student Ambassador trip to Japan in 2007, said in a statement.

"There are literally thousands of youth travel, study-abroad and student-exchange programs, but virtually no government oversight or federally mandated safety standards regarding their operations--most importantly, how they handle a crisis involving a child," Sheryl Hill said.

The foundation is pushing both for transparency and for protections to help ensure the health, safety and human rights of young people participating in the $17 billion youth travel, exchange and study abroad industry. Key objectives include the following:

  • Federal regulation of the youth-travel, foreign exchange and study abroad industry to help prevent cases in which young travelers have died, been denied health care, abandoned, abused, sexually abused and even killed while abroad.
  • An easy-access response system that instantly connects young travelers in emergency situations to timely health care, police protection and embassy assistance and notifies emergency contacts at home.
  • A family-friendly federally mandated transparent database containing reports about incidents and safety breaches involving American youth and students chaperoned overseas that names the agency responsible.

"We need a central, accurate clearinghouse for information so parents and students can determine whether good safety practices and vital support systems are in place," ClearCause board member Annamarie Saarinen said in a statement.

ClearCause Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and the ClearCause Coalition, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, were both created in order to encourage improved federal oversight and accountability in global youth travel, foreign exchange and study abroad programs.

For related news and other coverage from Schools.com, see: