For churches large and small, providing safety and security for their children’s ministry participants is a major area of concern these days.
Martin Sinderman · April 13, 2017
3) Well-Trained Volunteers – “Developing a team of consistent KidMin volunteers that understand policies and procedures ensures that your kids are in good hands,” Watterson says, adding “The more training and knowledge a volunteer has about their role in ministry, the longer they are going to stay involved.”
4) Clear Plans & Procedures – Create a plan not only for prevention of serious security issues, but also for any kind of less-severe security breaches that could happen, Watterson advises. Plan along lines of “What actions would need to be taken if (fill in the blank) happened? “Design clear prevention strategies and easy-to-follow action steps in case something happens,” he said, adding “Make sure this plan is posted where your KidMin team can access it whenever they need it.”
5) A Watchful Eye – Don’t rely solely on the policies and procedures that you’ve established, says Watterson. “These guardrails are simply that: they help keep things on track, but they don’t completely prevent an issue from arising.”
An in the same vein, “Always be mindful of who is in the kids’ area and why they’re there. Understand your facility’s or volunteers’ weaknesses and keep an eye on them,” Watterson adds, and “Develop a team of people who think like you and can help see these weak spots.”
A Safe Church Program
At Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, California, “Our Safe Church Program is the cornerstone of all we do in terms of Children’s and Youth Ministries,” according to Carol Heath, director of Family Ministries at the Sunnyvale, California-based
The stated purpose of the program “is to ensure a safe environment where children, youth, and adults can grow in their relationship with God. This includes training and guidelines for interacting with, supervising and disciplining children and youth.”
Developed by Sunnyvale, the program (which can be viewed at https://www.svpc.us/difference/safe_policies.php) start with screening of all staff, elders/deacons, and any volunteers who work with youth and/or children through reference and criminal background checks.
In addition, church staff and volunteers that either work, or may have direct contact, with children or youth are required to participate in a general Safe Church training course, which focuses on discipline, physical safety and preventing sexual assault, within their first 90 days of service.
As part of this training, individuals are given a Safe Church Policies and Guidelines manual for the ministry area in which they are serving; the church has different policies and procedures in place for three age groups – children under 5, children in 1st through 6th grade, and youth grades 7 through 12.