Saturday, March 2, 2013

Safe Children's Ministries

Today I'm beginning a month of focusing on safe children's ministries. I'll look at policies, classrooms and resources for the nursery, preschool and children's classrooms. The first thing I want to do is take a close look at our safety policies. Do you have written child safety and sick child policies? Some basics would include the following -
  1. All children's ministry volunteers will be at least 16 years old and will be screened, interviewed and trained before they are able to serve with the children.
  2. There will always be at least two unrelated, screened and trained adults in all children's ministry areas whenever it is available for use.
  3. All nursery furnishings and toys will be cleaned/replaced between services and during the week.
  4. Any child who has had a fever, colored discharge from their nose and who has had diarrhea or vomited 24 hours before an opportunity to be at church should be kept home.
  5. Should a child become ill while in the nursery, they will be separated from the other children and their parents will be sent for.
Be sure you have your polices posted on the wall and give a copy to all parents and volunteers.

Do you have a written volunteer standard and an application procedure for screening volunteers? I strongly recommend Reducing the Risk from Christianity Today as it provides all the information you need to screen volunteers and implement a safety policy in your children's ministry! 

Do you have a written safety policy? You are responsible for the children in the care of your mnistry so you need to screen volunteers, implement a safety policy and be alert!


  1. we are working this very thing. wondering about your first 16 years of age the magic number? can you share the rationale? i could see as a lead volunteer...but what about student aides...what age for them?

  2. Check with your insurance provider - some are asking churches to not allow anyone under the age of 16 to have access to children in their ministry. While there can be responsible children under the age of 16, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 year olds are still children. I've been told if you were ever in a court case, most courts will accept the testimony of volunteers 16 and older, but not the testimony of children. Plus, older kids who are volunteers give visitors a higher level of comfort when it comes to leaving their children in the children's ministry.

    Ask yourself why you want to have younger children serve as volunteers. Is it to get enough volunteers? Yes, I strongly believe in the value and necessity of having children learn to serve while they are children, but there are other places children can serve when they are younger - helping to clean toys, prepare supplies, take attendance, mail cards to visitors, birthdays and when kids are absent or even help lead music and then return to their own classes.

    Plus, you have to be careful to know if children are "serving" to get out of going to their own classes.

    Putting a min. age of 16 is difficult and I know not everyone will agree, but check with your insurer and see what they have to say about it.