Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dispatch & the Child Safety & Security Audit from KidCheck

This past Winter I was invited to be part of the initial Dispatch Content Team and asked to write about safety in the church and a wonderful resource from KidCheck which was included in the first Dispatch box. If you have not heard of Dispatch yet, you will find information about it at this link - basically they are a box you can subscribe to and then each quarter you will receive a box of "goodies" for you to use in your ministry. Check it out - I'll be reviewing a number of the items in the first box in the coming week.

But today I'm sharing my article about safety . . . 
Years ago when I served at a church in Northern California, another church in town had a child abducted from their nursery by the child's grandparents. The grandparents showed up, the child identified them as their grandparents, so the nursery workers released the child. This church needed a policy and system for signing in children and picking them up. 
At my church we had some grandparents who visited with their grandchild. These grandparents had custody of their grandchildren and were afraid the parents would come and try to take the children from our children's ministry. I explained our policy and showed them how we required adults to drop off and sign in their children. When they learned of our sign in/pick up policy they were relieved and began to attend regularly.  
A pastor I know of at church in a city near me told about a Sunday when they almost had a child abducted. The child's father showed up and the teachers let the child go - after all, he was the child's dad. Two minutes later the mother showed up - she panicked to learn the father had their child - she had custody, not the father. This children's pastor ran into the parking lot and had to physically take the child from the father's arms. After this incident, they 
implemented a security system for signing in and picking up children.  
Your church may never experience having a child abducted; or nearly abducted, but you must take steps to reduce the possibility of this happening in your church. And, beyond having a child abducted, we must do whatever we possibly can to insure our ministries are as safe as possible.
So, how do we know if our ministries are safe; or not? Thankfully, the Child Safety and Security Audit from KidCheck will help you evaluate what you are doing to see where you are on track and what you need to strengthen or begin to make your children’s ministry as safe as possible.
What is a, “Child Safety and Security Audit”, you ask? KidCheck describes it as; “A list of safety and security best practices, plus a tracking and reference worksheet, to help you understand your current safety practices, keep you organized and capture key security information.”
This resource will help you evaluate your ministry in a number of 
areas –
 Building and fire codes, windows in classrooms, open doors and staffing levels, controlling access to your children’s ministry area and more.
 Activities, snacks and crafts. So many children have food allergies which are a significant issue for churches to think through so they know what to do should a child have a reaction; or to prevent reactions in the first place. And while activities and crafts are a fun part of most children’s ministries, they also present the possibilities of children being harmed so you need to think through questions about where you store things, if your activity spaces are big enough and free of cords or equipment which could harm a child.
 Volunteers and staff. We must screen our volunteers, every time.  
 How you can implement these policies and put a security team and emergency plans in place. Finally it provides a great worksheet for you to use as you work through all the information and resources the Child Safety and Security Audit provides, so grab some parents, volunteers and staff and sit down and do exactly this! Work through the Audit and see where your church is safe and secure; and where it is not so you can take definite steps to ensure it is safe and secure!

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