One of the most important spaces inside the Church is the Children's and Nursery areas. The way this space functions, looks, and operates can all determine if a family will visit again. Therefore, this area must be done with excellence and intentionality. However, we have recognized some common mistakes that occur in this area. Here are 8 safety/security mistakes churches make in reference to the Children's area and two additional insights to consider:
1. You don't do background checks on everyone.
Anyone working with kids under 18 MUST get a background check. You need to ensure those that are volunteering with kids (or wanting too) do not have a criminal background. We must do everything in our power to ensure that kids are protected and this is simply one step to do so.
NOTE: If someone states that they have a criminal background and provides an explanation, depending on the charge, it IS NOT enough. Still run a background and if they, or anyone else is flagged, ask for the court records. This will ensure that they did not plead guilty to a lesser offense.
Resource: Ministry Safe or Protect My Ministry (Ministry Brands)
2. There is no Check-in/out Process
You need a controlled entry with a formal check-in process. Everyone knows everyone CANNOT work and is not an excuse. This allows you to control who picks up the children and everyone should follow this procedure. If you do a matching tag system, anyone who does not have the corresponding number should have their ID checked and be verified that they are on the pick-up list.
3. No Paperwork is collected
Part of the check-in process should be getting documentation on the kids and family. This is important to collect necessary information on the child and to obtain follow-up information on the family. We need to know if the child has any allergies or health issues, who can/cannot pick the child up, emergency contact information...etc.
4. Limited or No Equipment/Training for Volunteers
Ensure that the staff are properly trained for emergency situations (especially medical). This would include conducting CPR + First Aid Training for all volunteers. Also, what happens if the Church needs to be locked down or a fire happens? Are we prepared?
5. There is only One Volunteer in each Class
Never allow one adult in the room at a time. At a minimum, there should be a floater moving between two classrooms regularly. This simply helps with child/teacher ratios but more importantly creates accountability.
6. Volunteers have no way of contacting parents
Let parents know how you will get a hold of them if a situation arises. If a Teacher has an issue with a Child, whether behavioral or medical, they need to be able to contact the parents quickly and easily. This could be done with pagers, LED screen in the sanctuary, or simply by using their cell phones. No matter the method, parents should know how they are going to be contacted up front.
7. Not enforcing policies and procedure
If you have policies implemented for the Children's area, enforce them, even Church Leadership should comply. This refers back to the check-in/out procedures, if you have them, enforce them to everyone, ALWAYS. A Pastor should gladly comply with the rules like everyone else because it shows unity and their support for securing the Children's Ministry.
8. The Children's Area is NOT locked down when services start
Do not let people walk freely down these hallways or corridors. Only have personnel or security team members have access once services starts. The goal is to secure the area and keep them safe. If your Ministry is on a main trafficked hallway, limit the activity in that area.
1. Ensure the space is fun and inviting
The Children's area is one of the most important spaces in the entire Church. It MUST be created or developed with a high standard of excellence. If this space is outdated, seek out profession help to enhance these areas. In many instances, this is affordable and could be done at a reasonable cost.
Resource: Mark W. Todd Architects
2. Have a Security Team and Procedure developed
If the Church does not have a Safety Team developed, it is time to start NOW. This Ministry should cover everything from Medical Emergencies, Intruder, Service Disruptions, Inclement Weather, and more. But equally important, this Team of Volunteers should be a support system for the Children/Nursery Area (Missing Child, Domestic Disputes, Medical Emergencies).
We would gladly talk through any of these topics with you or your Safety Ministry as whole.
Contact us to learn about a FREE initial phone consultation and discounted assessment.
Now our Security Ministry Consultations have a portion emphasizing Covid-19 and the impacts it will have on our Church from a Safety standpoint.