3 Kidmin Safety Questions
Plan and prepare
In today’s world there are a lot of things that a children’s ministry leader needs to think about. One of the most basic relates to safety of the children and leaders. You might think “security is not rocket science,” but the following questions will help even the seasoned ministry veteran evaluate their safety policies and procedures.
- Who knows the escape plan? If bad weather rolls in during the middle of a ministry moment, do all leaders know the plan? Do they know what to do in the event of a fire, tornado, earthquake, or an identified person of interest? Have escape routes been posted? Do you specifically train leaders how to arrange and count the kids, lead them to the agreed-upon rally point, and then ensure all kids are present? What about the method of connecting them back to their parent or guardian? Do the parents and guardians know what is expected of them?
- Who bears the responsibility of reviewing background checks when there are questionable results? Not everything that shows up on a background check eliminates a person from volunteering in children’s ministry. Yet there are some items that appear to be a bit more “grey.” Some can be justified because they happened before the individual came to Christ. Others might not be so easy to dismiss. I’m not proposing a list of what your threshold should be, but I am advocating that you have an established and written plan of reviewing the potential volunteers who have questionable items in their past. At minimum I recommend one additional person on the church staff who will be consulted when an item of concern comes up. The important thing is that you only talk with this person and no one else. Respect the privacy of the individual who has submitted their information.
- What incidents merit reporting to the parents of a child? And equally as important is, who will do the reporting? Incidents and accidents can happen at any time in children’s ministry. Kids fall, lash out, say hurtful things, and even bite. In the flurry of dismissal, leaders can find it difficult to adequately relay an incident to the parents. Sometimes the incident will not be reported because the leader views it as “no big deal.” But whether or not it’s a big deal to us does not always translate to being a big deal to the parents. Consider creating a list of the kinds of incidents that will get reported to parents and who will have the conversation. That person should gather as much information as possible and proactively communicate as soon as possible with the parents. Additionally, it may be important to document the incident and have the parents sign/initial on paper saying they were spoken with about the incident and know they can call the appropriate church leader back at any time for further conversation. If possible, make this form in duplicate so the parents and the church can both have a copy.
The point of this post is not to frighten leaders about all of the things that can go wrong, but to have thought through a plan, written it down, communicated to leaders, kids, and parents appropriately, and trained in it.
My prayer is that you will never need these safety practices, but if you ever have an incident, you’ll be glad you had a plan in place to follow.