Kid-Friendly Events | Plan-To Protect Policies | Description of a Discipled Child | Mentoring Program
Our Plan-To-Protect Policies
Children matter to us and we are committed to their protection. Plan to Protect is a resource manual developed by The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. It was designed to assist local church leaders in developing clear abuse prevention policies and procedures that will help protect our children, our youth, our volunteers, and our churches. The denomination has recently published the 2007 version. Local churches can take this manual and adapt it to meet the needs in their own local church situation. This is what Harvest Hills Alliance Church has done. Below is an overview of our Plan to Protect policies.
First under the topic of child security is VOLUNTEER IDENTIFICATION. All of the volunteers in children’s ministries at our church should wear a nametag or approved clothing that identifies them as such to parents and newcomers. Second under the topic of child security is the issue of RECEIVING AND RELEASING OF CHILDREN. We’d like to emphasize that children should never be dropped off in a classroom without a teacher present. If only one teacher is present, then the door must be left open until other volunteers arrive who are helping in the same area. We’d also like to stress that volunteers or paid staff will only release preschool children into the care of the child’s parent or another person designated by the parent. Our staff release children to parents or another party only on the basis of a signature, a security number, or an identification card.
As far as guidelines for taking children to the washroom are concerned, we recommend that 1) two adults escort a group of children to the washroom. In cases where just one child needs to go to the washroom, we recommend that 2) an adult volunteer should escort the child and then leave the washroom outside door propped open. The volunteer should then remain outside the washroom door and wait for the child before escorting him or her back to the classroom. If the child is taking longer in the washroom than seems necessary, then the volunteer should call out the child’s name to hear how he or she is doing. We also recommend that 3) a volunteer should never be alone with a child in an unsupervised washroom nor should he or she go into a washroom cubicle with a child and shut the door. We recommend finally that 4) an adult volunteer may enter the washroom cubicle to assist a child under either of the following two conditions: The first condition is that a second adult must be within visual contact of the other adult and child in the cubicle. The second condition is that the outside washroom door must remain propped open while the adult stands in the open cubicle doorway.
Health and Safety Guidelines:
In terms of health and safety guidelines, we recommend, first, that volunteers not give out any medications to children. If a child needs medication, then the parent must administer it. Second, we want our volunteers to know that First Aid Kits are located in 3 places at the church: in the back foyer, the main foyer outside the kitchen, and in the nursery. Third, we recommend that our volunteer contact a parent when his or her child is injured, has an accident, or has a medical emergency while under our care. Fourth, we recommend that volunteers report to the ministry leader in charge regarding any accident resulting in an injury to the child. Finally, volunteers are to contact a ministry leader should a child have an injury involving blood so that proper procedures are followed in dealing with it.
Classroom Staffing and Supervision Guidelines:
When consideration is given to classroom staffing and supervision guidelines, we recommend that 1) there is a minimum of TWO LEADERS present in any room with children except in the event of an emergency. An alternative to the two adult guideline is the OPEN DOOR POLICY. When it is necessary for one adult leader to be left in a room alone with children, we recommend that 2) the DOORS REMAIN OPEN in that room. In the event that immediate family members want to minister together in the same classroom, we recommend for FAMILY PROTECTION that 3) the presence of one other volunteer in the classroom who isn’t related to the family in question.
Proper Display of Affection:
When ministering to children, we recommend that volunteers be sensitive to how important physical touch is in communicating love and care. At the same time, volunteers need to be keenly aware of how touch affects children in terms of their sexual development, cultural differences, family backgrounds, special needs, and individual personalities. As a rule of thumb, we recommend that a volunteer’s physical contact with children be both age-appropriate and discreetly displayed in view of others in the classroom.
Discipline and Classroom Management:
The word “discipline” is a biblical concept that is discussed in Scripture in Hebrews 12:7-11. When a person disciplines a child, he or she does it while taking the best interests of the child under advisement. The word discipline comes from the root word for “disciple.” Disciplines has in mind training that molds character, shapes behavior, and builds values into the child. In the church context, our goal as volunteers is to manage behavior and shape character in such a way that children become disciples of Jesus. When we discipline children, our goal isn’t to scold, to berate, or to silence them so that we’re able to maintain control in the classroom. Rather, our goal is to steer behavior into appropriate channels, to speak kindly and considerately, and to allow children the freedom to express their ideas in a safe environment. Some basic classroom guidelines that we recommend to our volunteers in children’s ministries is 1) to allow one child to speak at a time; 2) to maintain proper boundaries by keeping all hands and feet to yourself; and 3) to follow directions so that your project is completed correctly and so you know what’s going on in your group.