During the holiday season, your congregation will likely swell to include out-of-town guests and less frequent visitors from the community. People who visit for Christmas services will likely bring their children, making now a great tome top revisit your nursery and kid’s church policies. Investing in the spiritual lives of the littlest members of your congregation is so important, and making sure your childcare is safe and secure is critical.
In order to provide a safe environment for your kids, minimize risks, and avoid potential problems, church leaders must ensure that effective policies are in place. As a Georgia church insurance group, we often ask our clients these questions:
- Do you perform background checks on nursery and kid’s club workers?
- How do you control entrance to the nursery area? Who can access children in your care?
- How do you keep kids safe during church?
Having ready answers to these questions gives parents the reassurance they need.
Finding the right people to care for your children is one of the most important things to consider. Every single person who seeks to work with children should complete a written application, providing details including basic information, previous experience with child care, previous church affiliations, employment history, references, and disclosure of any criminal record. Be sure to check each reference provided, preferably from places when the applicant has worked with children.
Next, order a criminal background check. Even in smaller congregations where the applicant is well known, this step cannot be skipped. If your applicant has any convictions related – or even referenced – to violent crimes or sexual misconduct should immediately be withdrawn from consideration. We strongly recommend a waiting period of 6 months involvement at the church for newer members before they are allowed to care for children, to give your leadership a better chance to get to know and evaluate the individual.
First, establish a central location where parents can check their children in to kid’s church. This limits access to the children’s area, and also helps to control foot traffic on busy Sunday mornings. No one should have the ability to enter the childcare area without passing through the check-in point, even volunteers.
As sad as it is, church day care can be an easy target for unauthorized adults to pick up children, for instance, a parent that isn’t legally allowed visitation rights. It’s your responsibility to ensure that children are being picked up by an authorized parent of guardian. Having a sound check-in/check-out process in place can help with this.
Any child under three years old should be signed in by a parent or guardian and given a “child check,” usually a sticker or slip with the child’s information and a call number. The adult must present this slip to the nursery worker to pick up their child after church. This slip doubles as a way to call parents in when children are fussy or ill. If a parent or guardian tries to pick up their child without this slip, contact a church leader who has been designated with the responsibility of deciding whether or not to release the child.
Provide a Safe Environment
Make a habit of regular and thorough assessment or equipment, toys, and furniture being used in the children’s area to ensure safety and proper function. All rooms should be clean, free of potential hazards, and well-maintained. Take a close look for unlocked cabinets and closets which may contain hazardous material, open outlets, choking hazards, broken furniture, and anything else that may pose a safety threat to your small charges.
We know, especially in smaller churches, that these safety measures may seem a bit overboard. But we believe children are one of the greatest gifts God has given us, and there is no such thing as keeping them “too safe.” By securing your childcare area and keeping your children safe during their stay with you, you’ll keep parents at ease. As a Georgia church insurance group, we also know that childcare safety is important for your legal protection.
When your nursery and kid’s church is equipped with the proper safeguards, you can enjoy the joy and innocence that children bring to a congregation.