Protecting your children’s ministry is high-priority. While you can never completely eliminate all risk, there are some very simple steps you can take right now to ensure you’re taking the best care possible of the little lives that have been entrusted into your hands. In this two-part post, we’ll look at a total of four steps you can start taking this month to keep kids safe.
This first piece will focus on ensuring they are in the best hands from the time they check-in to your ministry, to after they leave.
Use a Check-In System
How do I Know if my Ministry Needs a Check in System?
There’s one simple step to determine whether or not you need a check-in system for your children’s ministry. Step 1: Look around your church. If you see a child unaccompanied by his or her parents, even if they are in the care of another adult or a sibling, then you almost certainly need some sort of check-in system. A check-in system is the only way to ensure kids’ safety and give parents peace of mind.
You have two options, setting up a paper-based system, or using an effective check-in software like Servant Keeper Check-In.
Option 1 – Paper-based Check-In (The Manual Way)
The more children you have in your ministry, the more organization, planning, time, and paper this option will take.
Step 1: Gather Information – To set up a paper-based system, you can start by gathering all the necessary information. Make a list of the children’s names, ages, rooms and classes they should be in, emergency contact information, a list of approved people who can pick up the child in the event that the parent cannot, a list of people who under no circumstances can pick up the child, siblings, allergies, and medications or medical conditions.
This is basic information you should have recorded about each child so that no matter who is helping in your children’s ministry, they are prepared for any situation. It’s best practice to keep the information in two locations: in the hands of your children’s ministry coordinator, and also in each classroom. Someone else in your church may have already collected this information, but you’ll need to ask the parents to provide it again if you can’t track it down.
Step 2: Create a check-in process. After you have collected and organized this information in binders or a filing system, you should implement a check-in and out process. Start by creating rosters for each nursery, or children’s class so everyone knows who should be present. Then create a system for parents to use when they drop their children off. Some manual systems include creating weekly name tag sets for each child where one name tag goes to the child and the matching name tag is given to the adult who will be there for pick up. Or, assign a number to each child at check in, and provide parents with a card or tag with the number on it.
Option 2 – Child Check-In Software (The Easy Approach)
If this sounds like a lot of work, to set up a check-in system by hand, it’s because it is. The good news is, for Servant Keeper Check-In users, the entire process can be greatly simplified and automated.
Benefit 1: Gathering Information is Streamlined and Reduced
Children and family information can be brought into the check-in system directly from Servant Keeper, or the church software you were previously using. This means that if parents already filled out their address, kids’ names, ages etc. for the welcome ministry, you’ll already have all that information when they show up at the nursery weeks later.
Benefit 2: Information is Stored and Accessed Effectively
Rosters, name tags, and item tags can be created in seconds, and updated automatically each year (grades, ages, classes, and other groups can all be automatically updated with Servant Keeper Smart Groups). Plus, you’ll have the ability to easily store images of all the children and the adults or siblings approved to pick them up. You can use the system to track notes on the kids too.
Benefit 3: Faster, More Secure Check-In and Out
Servant Keeper provides a variety of check-in and out options. Parents can check-in all their kids at once, update allergy and pick-up information and more. You can choose to have an attendant, or allow parents to do it themselves on a computer. Other features like using fingerprints to check in, require signatures to check out, and more. Not only that, Servant Keeper’s Check-In system allows you to let the parents check-in their children and get to their own classes even faster. This faster process also allows your children’s teachers stay focused on their lessons instead of checking in and out.
Run Background Checks
When it comes to selecting the right people to serve in our ministries, we absolutely need to place a focus on prayer, wisdom, and discernment. Using a background check service is one wise step children’s ministries can take to help make better, well-informed decisions about who is serving and in what role. And, in many cases using a background check service is not only wise but is required by law.
The thought of managing all the paperwork, personal information, and costs required to do background checks manually may be enough to make you consider limiting your children’s ministry workers to just a small handful of people.
Use a Background Check Service that is Integrate with your Church Software
With Servant Keeper’s integrated background check services, like Verified Volunteers for example, you can perform background checks in minutes. Simply click a button within their Servant Keeper profile, send them a request to complete the check based mostly off information you already have in your system, and even have the option of allowing your volunteers to contribute towards the cost of the check. Your ministry will hear back within days at most, and even in as little as 48 hours. Verified Volunteers will automatically check for new updates to their record each month for a year, and Servant Keeper will keep track for you of the date of their last background check.
We’ll cover more steps you can take to protect your children and keep your children’s ministry running safely and smoothly in part 2.