ARLINGTON BAPTIST CHURCH
CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
It is our goal at Arlington Baptist Church (ABC) to create a safe and loving environment in which the children entrusted to our care are able to learn about the character of God, discover biblical truth, and learn what it means to follow Jesus Christ. This handbook is designed to familiarize parents and caregivers with our childcare procedures and our child protection policy. The specifications contained in this handbook apply to official children’s ministry occurring during the regularly scheduled meetings of the church. “Children’s ministry” refers to classes and programs for children ages newborn through fifth grade. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the elders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The children’s ministry of Arlington Baptist Church exists to glorify God by:
- Supporting and encouraging parents who are primarily responsible for teaching biblical truths to their children (Ephesians 6:4)
- Making the whole counsel of Scriptures known to children with special emphasis on the Gospel (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Romans 1:16-17)
- Praying for the children and relying on the Holy Spirit to regenerate their hearts through the faithful teaching of His Word (Romans 10:17; Ephesians 2:4-10)
- Living faithfully before the children and modeling for them how Christians are called to respond to God, interact with each other, and with the world around us (Matthew 5:16; I Corinthians 11:1)
It is our hope that our children, who are precious, being made in the image of God, and yet spiritually dead, are presented with the glory of God in Christ through the Bible and won by saving grace through faith in Jesus. Then, having received new life as young believers, grow and mature in their faith in Christ to the point of willingly and joyfully laying their own lives down for the sake of others, whether children or adults, whether across the street or around the world, so that all people everywhere will come to know and delight in God. This rugged, God-entranced, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting faith of the child will hopefully fuel a passion for Jesus and a zeal for missions that will, Lord willing, be unquenchable and unending.
All children’s ministry volunteers share a particular responsibility for:
- Loving the children as Christ loves them
- Setting an example of proper Christian conduct in the way we live our lives
- Ministering to the children
- Understanding that the care of children is not a right, but a privilege; and this privilege embodies responsibilities to God for ministering to and caring for the children
Child Protection Policy Overview
Our first concern is that the children be safe while they are in our care. To this end we:
- Screen all children’s ministry workers
- Train all childcare workers as needed to update policies and procedures. Parents with questions about childcare training are welcomed to attend this class.
- Utilize child check in/out policies for the Children’s Ministry
- Employ scheduling procedures and caregiver/child ratios that optimize safety
- Equip each room with a first aid kit
- Educate our workers about recognizing child abuse and encourage them to report any known or suspected abuse to church officials and/or to appropriate governmental authorities consistent with applicable laws.
- Adhere to a healthy child policy for admittance to children’s ministry
- Ensure that workers are not in isolated settings with children
Protecting the Children Before They Arrive
Ensuring a safe environment begins long before Sunday morning. Every applicant who wishes to serve in children’s ministry is required to go through a screening process and attend childcare training.
To ensure safe and quality care, ABC has established several criteria that all caregivers must meet in order to work with our children:
- All caregivers must be members in good standing of ABC for at least three months.
- All caregivers must be eighteen years of age or older. Youth who are at least eight years of age are welcome to assist (subject to the approval and direction of the deacon of childcare on a case by case basis), but they are always in addition to the adult caregivers.
- All caregivers must have completed childcare training.
- All caregivers must have completed the caregiver application and been recommended by or in consultation with the elders.
- All reference checks must be satisfactorily completed. Criminal record checks and other appropriate screening checks may be completed, subject to the discretion of the pastor.
- All completed records of screening procedures will be kept securely along with the original application.
- Caregivers are to be approved by the deacon of childcare in consultation with the elders.
All caregivers must attend childcare training before they are allowed to work with children. Additional training sessions will be scheduled for existing caregivers to update them on policies and procedures. Parents with questions about childcare training are welcome to attend these sessions.
Protecting the Children as they Arrive and Depart
Arrival and Departure Times
Caregivers should be ready to accept children 15 minutes prior to the start of any session, so that parents have enough time to transition their children before the session begins. Parents are encouraged to pick up their children immediately after the conclusion of the session. In the event that a child is not picked up within 15 minutes of the end of the session, caregivers will ask the Deacon of Childcare to locate the parents.
Signing a Child into Children’s Ministry
Any parent/guardian who would like his/her child to participate in a children’s ministry program will sign the child in to the appropriate classroom, nursery, or activity when he/she arrives, granting permission for the child to participate in that ABC event or program. This will authorize ABC to secure medical services for the child in the event of an accident or injury if the parents or legal guardians are unavailable. The parent should also use this opportunity to note any allergies or special needs the child may have. For more details on our procedure for caring for children with allergies, please see the “Snack and Food” section below.
Wristband Identification System
In order to protect the children under our care, each child must be signed in to his/her class by a parent or guardian. Upon signing the child in, the parent/guardian and the child will receive wristbands with matching numbers. Both the parent/guardian and child must put the wristband on immediately and wear it for the duration of the session. The wristband identification system will be used for all childcare classes. At the end of the session when the parent/guardian comes to pick up the child:
- The parent/guardian will sign the child out.
- The children’s ministry volunteer will bring the child to the gated area and remove the child’s wristband. If the child or parent is unknown to the volunteer, the volunteer will check the numbers on both the parent’s and child’s wristband to ensure that they match.
Ordinarily, only the parent/guardian who signed the child in and is wearing the appropriate wristband will be permitted to retrieve the child. There are three exceptions to this rule:
- Members of the church who sign in their children will have the option to initial a column on the sign-in sheet that will grant permission to their spouse (and only their spouse) to pick up their child in the event that the parent/guardian who signs in the child is unable to sign the child out.
- In the event of an emergency that would result in neither parent/guardian being available to sign out the child at the end of a session, the child will be released to the care of an elder of ABC.
- A parent may make prior arrangements with the Deacon of Childcare to allow for someone other than him/herself or his/her spouse to pick up the child at the end of a session.
Protecting the Children While they are in our Care
Two Caregiver Rule
Two qualified, adult caregivers must be present in each classroom at all times. We consider adults to be age eighteen and older. Youth that are at least eight years of age are welcome to assist (subject to the approval and direction of the deaconess of childcare on a case by case basis), but they are always in addition to and supervised by the two adults. Two male caregivers may not serve together without a female caregiver also being present. The only exception to this rule is when the female caregiver is temporarily away (i.e. taking some children to the restroom).
In addition to always having two caregivers present, the following ratios are maintained during the regularly scheduled meetings of the church:
- Children ages birth to 18 months 1 worker for every 3 children
- Children ages 18 months to 3 years 1 worker for every 5 children
- Children ages 4 years to 5th grade 1 worker for every 8 children
The Deacon of Childcare or one of the members of the childcare leadership team should be notified if more caregivers are needed in order to maintain these ratios.
Rest Room Procedure
Parents are asked to take their children to the restroom prior to signing them into a class.
Ages 18 months to start of Kindergarten
In the event that a child needs to use the restroom, the female caregiver will take the child and one other child of the same age and sex to the restroom. The caregiver should wait outside the closed restroom stall door unless the child requires assistance. The child and the caregiver must wash their hands with soap and water before returning to the classroom.
For all other classes up to fifth grade, any child needing to use the restroom shall go with another child of the same age and sex. A female caregiver will accompany girls and boys. The caregiver will accompany the pair to the restroom and wait outside the closed bathroom door until the children are finished. The children must wash their hands with soap and water and return with the caregiver to their classroom. If there is a bathroom attached to the classroom, children may be dismissed one at a time to use the restroom.
All children’s ministry volunteers are responsible for providing a loving, respectful, and orderly atmosphere in which children can learn, play and interact with others. This atmosphere should be maintained by preparing beforehand, proactively directing children towards acceptable activities, verbally encouraging positive behavior, and when necessary, correcting or redirecting inappropriate behavior. Acceptable means of redirecting inappropriate behavior include correcting the child verbally, withholding a certain privilege or activity for a brief time, or separating a child from the group for a brief time (particularly if his behavior is endangering or upsetting other children). Children’s ministry volunteers and staff members should never yell, spank, or hit a child. If behavior is uncontrollable or the child does not respond to the discipline measures above, ask the deacon of childcare to call their parents. For further information regarding discipline, please speak with the Deacon of childcare.
Accidents and First Aid
All classrooms are equipped with basic first aid kits. Caregivers should be familiar with their contents and uses. In the event of a life-threatening injury or illness, emergency medical services will be called first and the parents will be located and informed immediately. Caregivers will complete an Accident Report Form for all injuries, whether major or minor.
Food Related Issues
Snack and Food
For children not yet in kindergarten (birth through 5 years old), snacks of Cheerios and water will be offered to the children during Sunday school and nursery. If a child should not be given a snack of this nature, the parent should do the following:
- Verbally notify the team leader on duty
- Note the nature of the allergy and how to respond to an allergic reaction in the appropriate spot in the sign in book
Ongoing Care for Children with Allergies
Parents of children with allergies who attend regularly should talk with the deacon of childcare about how to handle any unexpected allergic reactions. Upon parental request, allergy information about children of members may be posted in the child’s classroom. For children not yet in kindergarten, no food except for the church-supplied cereal and water will be permitted in the classrooms. In rare cases, an exception to this policy can be considered. Parents wishing to provide an alternate snack for their child must make prior arrangements with the deaconess of childcare to ensure that all known needs of the children in the class will be met. Children will be permitted to bring sippy cups with juice or water to class provided the cups are clearly labeled with the child’s name before they are taken into the classroom.
If instructions are not clear, no food should be given to the child without clarification from the parent/guardian. The caregiver should send a hall monitor to clarify with the child’s parent or guardian. For children in kindergarten through 5th grade, teachers will coordinate with parents to ensure that appropriate snacks are served.
This childcare policy establishes policies, procedures, and conditions that will be followed by the Arlington Baptist Church (ABC) childcare ministry and the caretakers therein. These standards of conduct describe the expected actions and behaviors of caregivers while administering care. The policies and procedures outlined will be applied at the discretion of ABC. ABCreserves the right to deviate from the policies, procedures, and conditions described herein. Furthermore, ABC reserves the right to withdraw or change the policies, procedures, and conditions described at any time, for any reason, and without prior notice, based on the best interests of ABC. The childcare policy is not a contract for care, nor is it intended to create contractual obligations for ABC of any kind. Additionally, this policy is not intended to create any civil liability for ABC or any ABC caregiver. Parents, guardians or other caretakers who choose to avail themselves of the childcare services provided are solely responsible for assuring the well being of their children by notifying ABC caretakers of any food allergies or other special needs any child may require, while utilizing the childcare services at ABC.