All Staff and Volunteers who have access to Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults will be trained with the following procedures. These provide protection not only to those who are served by the church’s ministries, but also for those serving within the church’s ministries.
1. 2 Adult Rule: No Personnel shall ever be alone with a Child, Youth or Vulnerable Adult. There will be at least two Screened Adults present whenever Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adults are present except in the case of emergencies. The two Adults should not be related or cohabitating. The 2 Adult Rule must always be considered a best practice; as such, every reasonable effort must be made to comply with this rule.
a. Roamers: If all reasonable efforts have been made to adhere to the 2 Adult Rule, and yet only one Screened Adult is available to supervise Children, Youth, or Vulnerable Adults, the activity will be conducted with the door open (excepting safety issues) and will require an unrelated and non-cohabitating Adult Roamer who will roam the area and give frequent, unannounced visits.
b. Alternatively, this activity lacking two Screened Adults could be moved to a public setting where others are likely to walk by.
2. Rule of 3: There may be exceptional cases or emergencies when the 2 Adult Rule cannot be supported even with the assistance of a Roamer. In these rare circumstances, Children, Youth, and Vulnerable Adults must be in the presence of two other individuals, one being a Screened Adult. This ensures that no one finds themselves alone with another individual. Absolutely every effort must be exhausted to ensure that there are two other individuals in the presence of a Child, Youth or Vulnerable Adult to maximize safety and minimize liability for all.
a. It is acceptable for Staff or Small Group Leaders to meet individual students off- campus, but only in a public place with high visibility and with Parental permission.
b. Staff and Small Group Leaders must not host Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adults from their ministry in their home in one-on-one situations.
3. Clear View Rule: Any one-on-one sessions or interactions between two people or an activity or program involving Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adults in which there are not two Screened Adults present must take place in a public or open setting or in a room with an open door (with a Roamer present or accessible). Alternatively, it could be acceptable to meet behind a closed door with uncovered transparent glass or transparent mirror glass (interior side is reflective, but someone on the other side can see through window). If possible, these meetings will be scheduled, and known about by supervisors, Parents or another individuals responsible for the care of a Child, Student or Vulnerable Adult.
a. Any ministry activities held at a Staff or Small Group Leader’s home must include proper ratios and supervision by other unrelated, non-cohabitating Screened Adults and the Clear View rule followed.
b. If Staff or a leader is invited to a Student’s house, the Parent must be home and the Clear View rule followed.
a. Children in 1st grade or younger will be escorted to the restroom if one is not available in their room. Adults will stand outside the restroom or stall unless the child needs assistance.
b. Children 2nd through 4th grades may go to the restroom independently if there is a Screened Adult monitoring the hallway, otherwise they should go in pairs. Ideally, restrooms should also be checked before and after programs for safety.
c. When it is appropriate for an Adult to assist a Child in using the restroom, the door will remain open.
d. Youth may go to the restroom at any time with Adult permission.
5. Physical Affection & Gifts
a. Physical affection must be appropriate to the age of the Child, Youth or Vulnerable Adult. For example, it is generally appropriate for a three-year-old to sit on a leader’s lap, but it is not appropriate for a teenager and their Youth leader to behave this way.
b. Touching and affection should be a response to the Child, Youth or Vulnerable Adult’s need for comfort, encouragement or affection. It should not be initiated or requested by a leader of any age. It is strongly recommended that side hugs, with only one arm be used. It is also recommended that Children sit on one side or another of a leader’s lap rather than in the middle.
c. Touching and affection will only be given in the presence of other Adults or Helpers. Personnel must promptly discuss any questionable behavior by other people with their supervisor, ministry leader or pastor. Known or suspected inappropriate touching must be reported to the authorities as outlined in the Abuse and Neglect Reporting Procedures and Response Plan followed by the reporter’s chain of command.
d. No Personnel are to give gifts to individual Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adult without the prior knowledge of the Parent(s) or responsible Staff. Because gift giving can be a form of buying loyalty or silence, gift giving will be done on a group basis, or for special occasions only. Gifts should not be elaborate but instead modest and appropriate to the occasion.
6. Personnel and Helpers must be attentive to:
a. Appropriate and modest dress and personal cleanliness. Each ministry may determine a specific dress code for their area as necessary. Staff must also follow the Employee Handbook.
b. Appropriate use of language and topics of conversation.
c. Appropriate demonstration of affection and encouragement with Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults.
d. When supervising Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adults, Personnel will not engage in activities that cause distraction from their primary role of supervising and engaging those in their care. Unless directly used to augment an activity or program, items that cause distractions, particularly technological devices such
as cell phones and tablets, should not be used while supervising Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adults. This also serves as modeling appropriate behavior in a group setting for the Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults.
e. Leaders of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adult ministries and programs may sign an additional Volunteer or employee behavior covenant which outlines the standards and expectations of behavior.
7. Permission Slips & Medical Release Forms
a. For on-site events in which Children or Students are dropped off, at a minimum emergency contact information for the Parent or Responsible Adult and participant allergies will be collected.
b. Parents or Responsible Adults will also provide specific written permission for each ministry event in which their Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adult participates. Paper sign-in, digital sign-in or online registration indicates parental permission.
8. Sign-in Procedures & Supervision
a. All on-site activities and programs will have a sign-in sheet.
i. Anyone considered a Child (by definition) must be signed in and out by their Parent or their Responsible Adult and may not be released to anyone who did not sign them in (unless written permission is provided and satisfactory identification is displayed).
ii. Within the Children’s Ministry, security stickers may be used as a form of sign-in, provided the Adult walks the Child to the room; a matching Parent security sticker may be used upon pick-up as signing-out.
iii. The nursery may implement procedures that offer extra protections.
b. Within the Children’s Ministry, young Children should be counted frequently. Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults must be counted before and after movement from one place to another. If transporting Students, a count must be done before departure and upon arrival.
c. Parents are to supervise their Children who are not actively participating in a program or activity while on church property and follow these guidelines:
i. Children must be picked up from all activities by an Adult and must be signed in and out as described above.
ii. Youth may sign themselves in and out and may meet their Parent or Responsible Adult in a place that their Parent or Responsible Adult has designated.
iii. Youth 5th through 8th grades may not cross the church parking lot without being accompanied by an older sibling, a Staff or Volunteer, or another trusted person as designated by their Parent or Responsible Adult.
iv. Youth and Children must be in a scheduled program or under the direct supervision of their Parent at all times. Youth and Children are not permitted to roam the church building or property.
v. Parents or Responsible Adults should notify supervisory Personnel when entrusting a Child, Youth or Vulnerable Adult who has a physical, emotional or psychological condition to their care so that church Personnel can better serve and anticipate needs.
d. Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults will have access to a telephone or cell phone during church sponsored events on or off the facility premises.
9. Discipline: Ministries serving Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adults will develop a discipline plan for their area.
a. Discipline plans will include addressing behavior issues without shaming or making another person feel unworthy or unloved.
b. If a Child, Youth or Vulnerable Adult is removed, a Parent or Responsible Adult will be notified and invited to discuss behavior management.
c. Redirection is encouraged as the first behavior management technique. Positive reinforcement is also encouraged.
d. NO physical discipline is allowed except for restraint purposes as a last resort if a Child, Youth or Vulnerable Adult is in danger of harming self or others. It is recommended that key Personnel in these areas, including paid program Staff, receive restraint training.
10. Facilities: Church facilities will meet reasonable safety standards to reduce risk of harm or injury.
a. Every classroom door will have a window providing a view of the interior.
b. Facilities will be regularly checked for safety hazards by Trustees and the Facilities & Grounds Director.
c. Playground and play areas will be checked regularly for dangers.
a. Minimum of 2 adults per room is always in effect
b. The church’s minimum adult to Child/Youth ratio guidelines will be:
Ages Birth-11 months 1 adult to 3 Children
Ages 12-23 months 1 adult to 5 Children
Ages 24-35 months 1 adult to 6 Children
Ages 3-5 years 1 adult to 10 Children
Kindergarten - 6th grades 1 adult to 12 Children
6th - 12th grades 1 adult to 15 Children
Any age overnight 1 adult to 8 Children
i. If groups consist of Children of mixed ages, the Adult to Child ratio for the youngest Child in the group must be maintained; an Adult’s own Children will be counted toward ratios.
c. The following ratios should be considered as a guide for Children & Youth with Special Needs and Vulnerable Adults:
Participant needs constant individual assistance/supervision 1 Special Needs Buddy to
1 Child/Youth/Vulnerable Adult
Participant needs close, but not constant, assistance or supervision 1 Special Needs Buddy to
2 Children/Youth/Vulnerable Adults
Participant needs occasional assistance 1 Special Needs Buddy to
4 Children/Youth/Vulnerable Adults
Participant needs minimal assistance 1 Special Needs Buddy to
5 Children/Youth/Vulnerable Adults
i. The specific needs of individual Children, Youth or Vulnerable Adults may require a change to these guidelines and shall be determined by the Special Needs Coordinator.