Third Step: Keeping Safety a Top Priority.
The most obvious step towards safety is to keep a first aid kit handy for those minor scrapes and bruises. It is also important to have "Incident/Accident" forms on hand in order to keep parents informed in case of an injury or incident that might take place during service.
No matter what the size of your church, it is very important to do background checks and keep files on all those who work with the children. For more information about background checks call Child Protective Services. You can find their number by dialing 1-800-555-1212 and ask for the 1-800 number in your area. I would also suggest you have a basic application on file for each person who works with the children. I have provided an example of a basic application in the reproducible forms section.
It is also important to set up a check in/check out or registration system, especially for nursery and preschool departments. It can be as simple as having a sign in/out sheet and giving the parent or guardian a laminated card with a number on it that matches the number next to the child’s name on the sign in sheet. They turn the card back into you when they pick up their child. This is a must if you have visitors and are not familiar with who can and cannot pick up the child. It also comes in handy if you need to call a visiting parent out of service in an emergency. You can simply flash their number up on the overhead or have the pastor announce that they are needed in the nursery. You can make your own numbered cards by using Avery business card template #5271 or #5372 and printing number templates. You will find Numbered I.D.cards in the "FREE STUFF" section. Just continue the number sequence so that you have enough for the amount of children you register each service. If you print these out and laminate them you will be able to give a numbered card to the parents as they drop of f their child and then write the number next to the child’s name on the sign in sheet. Whoever picks up the child must have the card with the same number on it as is next to the child’s name.
In order to help teachers remember children's names you could also use 3 column mailing labels. Write the child's name in all three labels across one row and attach one to the child's back, one to the diaper bag and one to the attendance sheet.
Another very important part of keeping the children safe is to have policies and procedures in place that will prevent any adult from having opportunity to be alone with a child. I have listed a few basic policies every church should have in place. You can adjust these to fit the needs of your children’s ministry.
Always require two people to be in the room with the children. One could be a youth.
Have adults monitoring the classrooms and hallways during service.
Have adults stand outside of the bathroom door when escorting a child to the bathroom.
Never allow anyone to be alone with a child.
Keep records on file of all volunteers’ applications and background checks.
Become familiar with the requirements the state has on reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. Contact C.P.S in your area for free information on this.
Train your volunteers to look for unusual behaviors and tell them to ask questions when they see strangers in the children’s ministry area..