Friday, February 21, 2014

Safety - Develop Child Safety Policies and Train Your Volunteers!

What child safety policies do you have for your children's ministry? Are they written down? Do you train your volunteers so they know these policies and procedures? Do the parents know what your child safety policies are? Do those in leadership positions in your church know them? Along with being completely committed to doing all you can to ensure the safety of your children's ministry and screening all of your volunteers, you need to have a written child safety policy which you and all your volunteers follow each and every week. 

One of the policies I've always followed in the churches where I've served is all my volunteers are thoroughly screened and regularly trained. In my last post I talked about screening volunteers, so now I want to give some attention to training volunteers. I know, I know. It is very difficult to get volunteers to attend training . . . after all, we are all so busy . . . in most of our cases we are too busy. But training our volunteers is essential to our ability to be effective and it allows us to do a better job at being a safe place for kids if our volunteers are well trained.

Sit down with a copy of your vision/purpose for your children's ministry and your planning calendar. Write a list of the five most important topics facing your children's ministry, the five areas where you see your most strength and the five areas you see your most need. From this develop a list - in order of the most pressing to least pressing - of the topics you need to address with your volunteers. For example, what are your child safety policies and how do they specifically impact your volunteers? Is your current curriculum a good "fit"? Do your volunteers understand how to get the most out of the curriculum you are utilizing? What are your policies for dealing with discipline issues in your children's ministry? Do your volunteers know how to lead a child to Christ? Do your volunteers know how to get the conversation going in their small groups and be sure all the children are engaged? Make a list of training topics and then schedule your training sessions - at least twice a year, but once a quarter would be even better.

So, how do you get volunteers to attend training? Part of the responsibility rests with you and part of it rests with them. Consider the following areas which are your responsibility -
  • Be sure you train your volunteers on topics they need training on so you are respectful of their time. 
  • Start and end your training when you say you will - this is another way you can show you respect your volunteers and their time. 
  • If you have volunteers with young children, plan to provide child care during your training.
  • Provide refreshments - make your trainings a fun and interesting time!
  • Allow time for volunteers to connect with one another.
  • Be clear with your volunteers and potential volunteers what your expectations are in regards to attending training. When you talk with a potential volunteer let them know your training schedule and part of their commitment includes attending all scheduled trainings. 
  • Whenever possible hold your training at two different times - this shows you are respectful of your volunteer's time by allowing them to attend the one which fits their schedule the best.
The following areas are the responsibility of your volunteers -
  • When they commit to serving in your children's ministry they are also committing to attend all scheduled trainings.
  • To fully participate in training sessions and fully implement skills and policies they learn at the training.
Identify your screened and trained volunteers by requiring them to wear name tags when they are serving in your ministry. You can easily make these tags with a digital camera, printer and a laminater and add another "layer" of security to your children's ministry.

When volunteers are fully and regularly trained it communicates to the parents and people of your church and community you are fully committed to quality and you take your children's ministry seriously. This can give parents in the church and community confidence in your ministry.

How often do you train your volunteers and how do you get them to attend?

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