Every aspect of your ministry environment needs to be comforting for children and for parents. With safety issues, always err on the side of caution. Church staff and volunteers must set the standard for above-reproach personal interactions. Children of all ages need to be safe—physically and emotionally—while in our care. Security policies and procedures are essential for protecting kids and for safeguarding adults who work with them.
Policies are only as good as the detailed procedures that churches put in place and follow. Here are some examples of best-practice safety procedures for children’s ministry:
Volunteer Safety Procedures
- All volunteers must go through a screening process that includes a personal interview, a background check, and reference calls.
- Before opening any room, at least two adults must be present.
- Maintain safe volunteer-child ratios. Do not leave children alone with only one staff member or volunteer.
Check-in and Check-out Safety Procedures
- Use a check-in and check-out system that includes name tags.
- When picking up a child, parents must present their matching name tag.
- Staff members and volunteers also should check-in and wear name tags, so parents and children know who you are.
- Put children’s name tags in a visible location. For younger children, name tags may work best on their back.
- Learn the names of children in your class.
- Keep the class roster and emergency cards nearby.
Allergy Safety Procedures
- When changing diapers, always wear non-latex gloves.
- Use caution with snacks, always checking for food allergies.
- When severe allergies exist, ban all food from classrooms.
- Always know where the first-aid kit is. If parents supply an EpiPen, know when and how to use it.
- Never touch a child in an area that would be covered by a swimsuit, and don’t let children touch you in those areas.
- Never kiss a child or encourage them to kiss you.
- If a child initiates a hug, it’s okay to return it. Side hugs and “A-frame” hugs are generally appropriate.
- Don’t let children sit on your lap. Ask them to sit next to you.
- When children need to go to the bathroom, don’t send them alone. Two adults should accompany them, and children should do as much for themselves as they can.
If you ever notice anything suspicious or concerning, talk to the director right away. In most states, children’s ministry workers are “mandated reporters” for child abuse.