KidCheck and INCM Equip Course Child Safety Discussion
This week we presented to the INCM Equip Starter Group and the discussion centered on how to become “safety minded” in children’s ministry. We outlined eight elements of consideration for looking at safety from a holistic perspective. In addition, we shared the steps to continue to make child safety a priority as an organization. Child safety isn’t about just children’s ministry policy. In these volatile times it should be viewed as an overarching directive for the entire church.
Here’s a quick recap of the eight elements of being safety minded that we covered.
*Check-In & Check-Out Process *Training
*Abuse Prevention *Policy
*Security Team *Facilities
*Volunteers *Incident Management
With the discussion came questions and a few interesting thoughts from the participants. We felt it important to share what was on the minds of others in children’s ministry. If you have a question or statement please feel free to share it in the comments below.
Question: Can we as church members, apply triple antibiotic ointment on a child? I have heard that we aren’t allowed to do so because of allergy issues. Also, is there an issue because we don’t have a license to administer medication and this ointment contains medications?
- Our medical team (usually 2-3 professionals) will take care of all owies and emergency needs, with the Safety Team working as backup.
- In that type of situation, you would probably be contacting the parent anyway before you would need to put on ointment.
KidCheck Response: We recommend that if a situation occurs and it’s during service to contact the parents and have them approve the applying of any type of ointment. If it’s in a VBS type of situation we suggest putting a band aide on the wound and contacting the parents for final approval.
Question: How important is it to keep attendance records and for what length of time? What if they are pen and paper check-in records?
KidCheck Response: Keeping attendance records is very important! We suggest you keep attendance records for an indefinite amount of time or as long as you can. Using an electronic system to store is very helpful and more efficient. If you have paper records, scan them and save them as files on your computer.
Question: What’s the best way to lead up with pastors and church leadership (referring to the need for improved child safety)?
KidCheck Response: Great question! We suggest that you let the data lead for you. There is a large amount of statistics that indicate churches are often a target. Your discussion should be more about building a case for how prioritizing child safety & security benefits the overall church. Examples: overall reduced liability, a key point in attracting new families (if you want to reach young families, you must demonstrate that you’re going to protect their children), and a requirement for most insurance companies to award coverage etc.
Question: Concerning medical releases. Do I need to have a guardian fill out a form, or if I have “Tommy’s” form from VBS can I use it next month for camp? Next year at VBS will I need a guardian to fill out a new form?
- We have one that lasts for a year.
- My church has a medical release for a year. Then parents have to sign a new one a year later.
- We do one for every event. That way there is no question
You don’t necessarily need to have a medical release form filled out for each and every event, however, current medical information is really important. It’s a bit of a judgement call as you need to weigh out the pros and cons of keeping information completely current vs asking guardians to spend time filling out forms. Think about how it best works for your ministry and parents – if it’s more imperative a form is completed for each event so there’s no question info is current; or if you determine a set timeframe (6 months, yearly) and make everyone aware new release forms need to be completed. Also, take advantage of your electronic check-in system (if you are using one) as a place to keep a scanned copy of the signed medical release and associate it with the family so it’s always readily available.
Question: If you were starting from scratch what are the top 3 areas of security you would work on first?
We suggest. 1) Establishing a Child Protection Policy. 2) Implement a Check-In/Out Process. 3) Require back ground checks to be completed for anyone coming into contact with children.
Great Attendee Tip: We have a security team, but also hire an off duty police officer. We pay the department and it is considered overtime for them. They make a huge impact being in uniform walking the campus and they enjoy the time, as well as, we are able to provide overtime for them also!