Having a Child Safety Policy Manual can be one of the most important steps a church can take in helping to protect its children and prevent liability. Here are a few of the major things to think about when creating a Child Safety Policy Manual:
- First, we recommend that you create a team or committee of highly qualified members from multiple professions (e.g. law, police, education, counseling, medicine, etc.) to craft a Child Safety Policy. These professionals will bring a wealth of knowledge from many different angles that will be crucial in setting forth a working Child Safety Policy.
- Second, look at what other churches, associations, and nonprofits are doing in this realm. Click Here to see a list of resources we have on our website for sample policies and links to policies from other organizations. By looking at what other organizations are doing, your team can gain valuable insight on the "best practices" in the industry. At a minimum, your Child Safety Manual should include policies on:
- Selection and Screening of Childcare and Youth Workers
- Applications for Childcare and Youth Workers
- Background Checks and Reference Checks for Childcare and Youth Workers
- An Identification System that Prevents Unauthorized Persons from Picking Up Children
- Supervision of Childcare and Youth Workers
- Reporting Child Abuse
- Finally, once you create a Child Safety Policy, make sure it is used and useable. Have the church as a whole vote on the policy to reinforce the idea that this is an important priority for all members in the church. Then, make sure that all of your childcare and youth workers (as well as paid staff) are trained regularly on this Child Safety Policy and how to implement it. Such trainings should, at a minimum, take place at least once a year. Likewise, even the most seasoned childcare workers should attend so that all workers are on the same page about child safety procedures.
In Mark 10:14, Jesus said: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Jesus considered little children to be an integral component of His Kingdom, and thus, we have a duty to protect his children with the utmost care. Having a good Child Safety Policy can be the first step towards making your church the safest it can be for these little ones whom God loves.