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Special Needs Ministry Check-in Board

Today’s post is the second in a series about my visit to Stonebriar Community Church’s Special Needs Ministry in Frisco, Texas.  Meaghan Wall, the Special Needs Ministry Coordinator for Stonebriar, was kind enough to provide a tour of the church’s special needs suite. In today’s post we’ll talk about the Check-in area and check-in board.


The other posts in this series have or will feature helpful information related to:


This first picture shows the entry area to the suite.  To the right of this picture is the suite entrance (shown in yesterday’s post).  The room I am standing in to take this picture is a small check-in area with a desk, computer, storage cabinet and cubby spaces for backpack storage.  The computer is set up so that children and volunteers may check-in through the church’s software system and print name badges.  The door to the left in this pictures leads out of the special needs ministry suite and into the children’s ministry hallway.  directly ahead and underneath the clock is the entrance into the special needs main classroom, which also leads to a bathroom, a playroom and a quiet room.

In this picture you see two comfortable chairs purchased at IKEA.  This past Sunday morning I watched students sometimes come out of the main classroom and “take a break” in one of these comfy chairs.  More than once the chairs were a landing spot for a “bolter” who may have had ideas of leaving the suite.  Meaghan explained that either she or a volunteer serve in the role of “hall monitor” in this check-in area during Sunday morning programming.  Meaghan is usually the person permanently stationing herself to welcome and dismiss every participant, but also functioning as a gatekeeper.  Part of the purpose of the hall monitor assignment is to catch and re-direct any students who may attempt to run off.  This past Sunday I witnessed the importance of having a hall monitor and watched some fancy footwork by the volunteer team (who all have a great sense of humor and tremendous love for their participating students).

This picture is a close-up of the door leading into the main classroom inside the special needs suite.  The white square is a special alarm attached to the door.  Meaghan explained that occasionally during low attendance and low traffic program time (perhaps a respite night),  a hall monitor might not be assigned to guard the check-in area.  In these cases the volunteers working  inside of the main classroom could close the door and set the alarm on the door.  In the event one of the volunteers was not next to the door and a student were to unlock and open the door, the alarm would sound alerting caregivers to assist their escapee back in the room.

The above two pictures area close-ups of the check-in board.  As students arrive the hall monitor notes the child’s name on the board and several other helpful facts about the child’s time in programming.  Using a prominent display board allows volunteers (who may rotate during the morning programming) to get on the same page without looking inside a file or having a conversation.  We used my name as an example student’s name.  Where you see the green “J” that denotes the fact that this child will leave the special needs suite along with a buddy to attend the typical children’s ministry worship experience called “Jam”.  Where you see the red name “Meaghan” that is to indicate who the child’s buddy will be today (and who will be accompanying the student to the Jam worship experience).  Where you see the green “GF” this indicates that this student can only be served Gluten Free snacks while in church care.  If you see the note “special snack” that means that the child should not be served any church-provided snacks and instead a snack from home should be retrieved from the child’s backpack.

In the above picture I’m showing the magnetic erasers (I’m fascinated quite easily).


We’d love to hear from you.  Yesterday’s post was wildly popular – so we will have lots of readers for this blog series.  Please gift the readers your ideas and share what you have seen that works for a church setting check-in.  Comments encouraged!  And if you have pictures of your space that you want to share, email me at amy@theinclusivechurch.com.  No church and no ministry is too small! ~ Amy

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Amy Fenton Lee is a writer and speaker focused on helping churches successfully include children with special needs. She is a regular contributor to children’s ministry publications and a variety of other Christian and secular magazines. Amy is a passionate children’s ministry volunteer and the daughter of a church senior pastor. Amy is a frequent speaker at children’s ministry conferences. Amy blogs about special needs inclusion at The Inclusive Church.