Child Protection Policy

Child Protection Policy

UPDATED MAY 2017

Jesus said “...Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Mark 10:14-16, NLT)


Table of Contents

Why This Policy?
Scope
General Policies
    Worker Requirements
    Physical Touch
    Emergencies
    Drugs & Medication
    Off-Campus & Overnight Events
    Discipline
    Gender Issues
Policies Specific to Kids Ministry
    Minimum Workers
    Drop-Off / Pick-Up
    Restrooms
Policies Specific to Youth Ministry
    Drop-Off / Pick-Up
    Driving
    Off-Campus Appointments
    Dating
    Open Door Policy


 


Why This Policy?

The Gospel of Mark (10:13-16) records that when people brought children to Jesus he welcomed the children, took them in his arms, and blessed them. In the same way, it is our desire to bring children to Jesus. Therefore, this policy exists to:

Protect Children

Because of our love for children and the dangers to children that exist in our society, this policy is designed to provide (to the greatest extent possible) for the safety of all children who are served by the ministries of the Whipple Heights Alliance Church.

Assure Parents

We recognize God has given parents the primary privilege and responsibility of raising their children to maturity and that protecting their children from harm is inherent to that process. This policy is intended to provide assurance to parents that we will be careful and diligent in doing our part to help raise their children.

Assist Church Leaders

This policy is also designed to assist church leaders in recruiting workers for ministry to children, equipping those workers for effective ministry, and addressing any issues that may arise.

Guide Workers

Finally, this policy is designed to provide clarity for workers who serve in ministry to children.

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Scope

To whom and in what cases does this policy apply?

Children

This policy applies to all ministries involving minors, birth through age 17. It also applies to youth older than 17 who are still in high school. This includes, but is not limited to, the following ministries / age groups:

  • Nursery
  • Early Childhood
  • Elementary
  • Middle School / Junior High School
  • High School

These are hereafter referred to as “minors” or “children” or “youth” in this policy.

Adult Workers

This policy applies to all adult workers (age 18+) who work with minors as    defined above. This includes, but is not limited to: children’s ministry workers, youth ministry workers, ministry team members, teachers, interns, helpers, assistants, and babysitters. This policy does not apply to guest speakers or artists as long as an adult worker is present.

Student Workers

This policy applies to all student workers (under age 18) who work with minors as defined in this policy. Student workers serve a supporting role, always under the supervision of an adult worker as follows:

  • To assist with Nursery, student workers must be Grade 9+.
  • To assist with Early Childhood, student workers must be Grade 7+.
  • To assist with Grades 1-6, student workers must be Grade 9+.

Activities

This policy applies to “regular” church-sponsored events and activities (e.g. Sunday School, worship services, midweek gatherings, etc.) and to “special” church-sponsored events and activities (e.g. vacation Bible school, retreats, etc.). This policy also applies to “babysitting” for on-campus, church-sponsored events even when not defined as children’s ministry.

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General Policies
 

Worker Requirements
 

Application

All workers must complete a screening process which includes the following:

  • Job Description - Applicants will be given a job description for the appropriate ministry role to provide clarity about the role including expectations, amenability, etc. NOTE: Teaching roles may only be filled by workers who are covenant members of Whipple Heights Alliance Church. These roles include teachers of kids and youth Sunday school classes, Children’s Church, VBS, and youth group. Guest speakers and interns are exempt from this requirement.
     
  • Background Check - We utilize an outside service designed for churches to conduct background checks on all applicants for adult worker positions. (Applicants for student worker positions are exempt from this requirement.) Applicants who have already been checked by another organization (school, employer, etc.) may submit documentation of a current, clear background check to see if its scope meets Whipple Heights Alliance Church’s requirements.
     
  • Ministry Application - Upon receipt of a clear background check, all applicants (including those applying for student worker positions) must submit an application.
     
  • Interview - After the applicant’s application is processed, an in-person interview will be conducted by the ministry leader, pastor, elder, or a  combination of these. Upon successful completion of the interview, the applicant will be designated an approved “worker” and assigned to a ministry role.

Training

Church leaders will provide training on a regular basis. All workers are required to complete this training to maintain their status as an approved worker. Workers who do not complete training as required may not continue to serve in ministry to minors.

Physical Touch

Physical touch is an essential and appropriate part of nurturing, but must be age and developmentally appropriate. Workers must always be aware of and sensitive to differences in sexual development, culture, family backgrounds, individual personalities and special needs. Workers must always conduct themselves in a manner that is above reproach.

  • Hugs - One-arm side hugs are positive contact. Workers will not initiate full contact, body-to-body hugs with minors.
     
  • Lap Sitting - Sitting on laps is appropriate for children age 5 and younger. Workers will discourage lap sitting with older children; instead encouraging sitting side-by-side.
     
  • Casual Touch - Gentle contact during activities may be on children’s heads, shoulders, arms, and hands.
     
  • Massage - Workers will not give back-rubs, foot massages, etc. to minors.

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Emergencies
 

Preparedness
 

  • Workers - Paid staff will maintain both CPR and First Aid certification. Members of the Children's Ministry Team, members of the Youth Ministry Team, and all other workers are encouraged, but not required, to maintain CPR and First Aid certification.
     
  • Parents - Parents are encouraged to keep an updated Emergency Medical Authorization on file with the church office at all times.

First Aid

First aid is defined as topically-administered treatments (ice packs, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, etc.) and is to be administered as needed to minors. First aid kits will be kept in designated locations on campus and all workers are to be familiar with the location and content of these kits. Workers are encouraged to inform the parent in the event first aid is administered. However, the administration of first aid does not require the filing of an incident report.

Professional Medical Attention

Anytime an injury occurs (or is suspected to have occurred) to a minor that requires (or is reasonably likely to require) professional medical attention, the supervising worker must contact the minor’s parent immediately. If the parent cannot be reached, the worker must contact the ministry leader or pastor   immediately. The supervising worker must then submit an incident report to the ministry leader or pastor within 24 hours of the incident.

Fire Evacuation

All workers are trained regularly to safely evacuate minors in the event of a fire and are required to be familiar with evacuation policies and routes. All rooms regularly used by minors have posted evacuation procedures and routes.

Tornado & Storm Sheltering

All workers are trained regularly to safely shelter minors in the event of a tornado or other storm and are required to be familiar with sheltering policies and locations. All rooms regularly used by minors have posted sheltering procedures and routes.

The Press

In the event of an emergency that draws the attention of the press, workers must not speak to the press about the incident or any minor or other worker connected to the incident. The Board of Elders will determine an appropriate response, if any, and who will give that response.

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Drugs & Medication
 

Possession

Minors are not permitted to be in possession of any kind of drug or medication while at a church-sponsored event, with the exception of

  • life-saving emergency medication (e.g. rescue inhaler, Epipen, etc.)
     
  • over-the-counter pain medication carried by female youth for the purpose of treating the discomfort associated with her menstrual cycle

All medication required by a minor while at a church-sponsored event must be declared to, carried by, and administered by an adult worker. (See exceptions above.)

Workers who carry their own prescription or over-the-counter medication while serving in ministry to minors are required to store it out-of-reach of minors in the designated “worker locker.”

Administration

Orally-administered over-the-counter medications may not be given to minors by workers without the express written consent of the parent.

Orally-administered prescription medications may not be given to minors by workers without the express written consent of the parent. When parental consent is granted, it must be accompanied by a copy of the prescription identifying the drug, dosage, and the minor’s name.

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Off-Campus & Overnight Events

Off-campus and overnight events must have prior approval by the parent. Proper written consent and an Emergency Medical Authorization are required for each minor.

When transporting minors as part of a church-sponsored event

  • Drivers must be 25 years of age.
  • Drivers are required to have a valid driver’s license and proof of current liability coverage from their insurance company.
  • Drivers must carefully adhere to all traffic laws, not only because this is the morally and legally right thing to do, but also because of the example this sets for minors.
  • Minors must wear seatbelts at all times.
  • A worker should never be alone in a vehicle with a minor of the opposite sex.

NOTE: Additional policies related to transporting youth are included in the section titled “Policies Specific to Youth Ministry.”

Workers will be assigned responsibility for a specific group of minors for the duration of the event. The following minors-per-worker ratios are required for all off-campus and overnight events

  • Elementary, grades 1-6 (6:1)
    • 01-12 minors = minimum of 2 adult workers
    • 13-18 minors = minimum of 3 adult workers
    • 19-24 minors = minimum of 4 adult workers
    • 25-30 minors = minimum of 5 adult workers
    • etc.
       
  • Youth, grades 7-12 (12:1)
    • 01-24 minors = minimum of 2 adult workers
    • 25-36 minors = minimum of 3 adult workers
    • 37-48 minors = minimum of 4 adult workers
    • 49-60 minors = minimum of 5 adult workers
    • etc.

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Discipline

All interaction regarding discipline needs to carefully consider a child’s dignity and self-esteem. Gentleness, respect, and understanding must guide all actions and words. Discipline will be carried out through instruction, training, and correction. Physical punishment will never be used.

Discipline Procedure
 

  1. Verbal Correction - Address the problem lovingly but directly with the child by verbally explaining exactly what problem is unacceptable, the correct behavior in the situation, and the expectation to change that behavior immediately. The goal of this first step is to correct the problem behavior without calling any more attention to the child than necessary. (Matthew 18:15)
     
  2. Time Out - Separate the child from the group for an appropriate “time out,” and again explain the problem, the solution, and the expectation of an immediate change. The goal of this second step is to leverage the benefit of peer pressure to emphasize the importance of immediate behavior change. (Matthew 18:16)
     
  3. Removal - Return the child to the parent’s custody. If this is necessary during an overnight or off-campus event, it is the responsibility of the parent to come pick up their child. The goal of this final step is to seek behavioral change by applying significant social discomfort to the child. (Matthew 18:17)

Altercations

Bullying is not acceptable and will result in immediate intervention according to the discipline policy.
Physical altercations will result in immediate parent contact by the worker. The supervising worker must submit an incident report to the ministry leader or pastor within 24 hours of the incident.

Gender Issues

  • Restrooms - Separate restrooms are provided for males and females and are labeled accordingly. Minors who use the restrooms are required to use the facility corresponding to their physical anatomy rather than personal choice.
     

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Policies Specific to Children's Ministry
 

Minimum Workers

  • A minimum of two workers is preferred with any group of children, grade 6 and under. A minimum of two workers is required for any group of children grade 3 and under. At least one of these must be an adult worker.

Drop-Off / Pick-Up

  • The children’s ministry team is required to maintain and adhere to a written procedure that ensures a safe and orderly transition of children at drop-off and pick-up.
  • Parents are required to escort their child all the way to his/her classroom, and are encouraged to leave as soon as the child is settled into an activity or is in the care of the worker. Parents should not enter the child care area unless picking up their child. Nursing mothers and parents who are toilet-training are welcome at any time for those purposes.
  • Children may not be dropped off unless an adult worker is present.
  • Youth (grade 7+) are permitted to pick up their own siblings in accordance with the written procedure.

Restrooms
 

Nursery

  • Diaper changing must always take place in such a way that another worker can easily see the child being changed as well as other children and workers in the room. 

Early Childhood & Special Needs

  • Parents of children who are toilet-training are encouraged to take their children to the restroom prior to class in order to minimize disruptions during class.
  • Workers should avoid being alone with a child in a restroom for an extended period of time. This can be accomplished by standing in the restroom doorway.
  • Workers must never go into a restroom stall with a child and shut the stall door.
  • Workers should escort children to the restroom in groups whenever possible.
  • If it is necessary to escort  just one child, the worker must prop the restroom door open.
  • Student workers shall not help a child in the restroom unless that child is a family member.

Elementary

  • Workers should never be alone for an extended period of time with a child in an unsupervised restroom.
  • Workers must never go into a restroom stall with a child and shut the stall door.
  • Student workers shall not help a child in the restroom unless that child is a family member.

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Policies Specific to Youth Ministry
 

Drop-Off / Pick-Up

Parents are encouraged to escort their children all the way into the building, rather than dropping them off in the parking lot. For their safety, youth will not be release into the parking lot after events unless they have driven themselves. Parents must come into the building to pick up their children.

Driving

Approved adult workers (regardless of age) may transport minors (grade 7+) outside of church-sponsored events with a valid driver's license and parent permission. This includes giving youth rides from home to a church-sponsored event, back home after a church-sponsored event, and for non-church-sponsored activities.

Off-Campus Appointments

One-on-one off-campus appointments (e.g. lunch, coffee, etc.) with the youth of the opposite sex should only be conducted in public places. Separate transportation must be used.

Dating

At no time shall any worker pursue, reciprocate, or otherwise encourage a romantic relationship with a minor. Workers should always be sensitive to minors with “crushes” and report such a situation to the ministry leader or pastor immediately.

Open Door Policy

At no time should any worker have a one-on-one meeting behind closed doors. For your protection, keep the door at least partially open.

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Printed copies of the Child Protection Policy are available at the check-in counter, from the church office, or by download.


Child Protection Policy