We have had several instances at our church in the past couple of weeks that have reminded us how important it is to review the safety of our environments. We have always valued safety, but with everything else, if you don’t revisit and re-evaluate that value, things will start slipping. Here are the questions we are asking:
– Are our current policies being enforced? We are doing somewhat of an audit to make sure that everyone in our environments has updated background checks done. We are trying to update anyone whose background check is over 5 years old. We also have re-emphasized our pick-up procedures. Volunteers (and staff) need to be reminded that this is always important. We are reminding leaders that policies such as two adults in a room are not optional.
– Do volunteers know all the policies? Right before the holidays we did a series of video trainings on youtube for all of our volunteers. We covered how to identify and report child abuse, how to protect yourself and the policies we had in place to protect children, and also general safety such as procedures for evacuation, severe weather or an intruder. We also created a document like the one Sojourn Church has that was distributed to all of our volunteers. We asked them to sign and return to emphasize the high importance. You can see it here.
– How can we better restrict access to kids? I am very jealous of you who have all of their kidmin rooms on self-contained halls with 1 safe door. 🙂 Our preschool hall has three entrances as well as a
stupid door that goes from backstage of the worship center onto our hall. Our elementary hall is the only path for several adult classes that meet on the back hall. We get alot of non-kidmin traffic on both halls that we don’t love and limits our security. Our awesome preschool minister has decided to lock down preschool during services, allowing parents in who need to drop off or who have a parent security sticker to pick up or check on their child. This probably should have been done a long time ago, but I think we were erring on the side of not inconveniencing our people. Not a good way to err. Elementary is not nearly as easy of a fix, but our first step will be reinforcing the need for volunteers to wear nametags. That is something else we have gotten slack about. Evaluate your areas and see what needs to be done to make it safer? Are bathrooms open to adults as well? Are there ways for unauthorized adults to gain access to kids?
– How secure is our building during the week? Security needs to be important even when kids aren’t in the building. You don’t want valuable equipment to turn up missing. One pastor recently shared the story of finding a homeless man living in their church! That would not be the surprise guest you want for children’s church! Work with your staff to make sure the building is as secure as possible during the week.
– Do you have a plan? As children’s pastors, we are not always geared towards the worst possible scenario, but I believe it is important. What would you do if someone armed entered the church? What would you do if a child turned up missing? What would you do if someone became angry and violent in the church hallway? Lord willing, none of these things will ever happen… but what if they do? Have a plan and share much with your other leadership. Do you have a security team in place? Who do you call to come get the crazy person?
What are some other things that you evaluate about the safety of your children’s ministry?