Smiling Parents and Safe Kids
By: Alex Smith
Sally is the Children's Ministry Director at a midsize church in a middle class suburb of your average American city. She is responsible for the safety and ministry of 200 to 300 children, depending on the service, and takes her job very seriously. She is the mother of two grown children and loves serving.
She remembers when she started in her current position, back when she was able to recognize all her parents by name and could list off their children. Back then, she had only a few steady volunteers working with her and things seemed somehow easier. She dreamed of the day they would be in a newer, bigger, building. Now that day has come, and she longs for the simpler times of yesterday.
Sally, like all of you working in children's ministry, is facing the ever-growing challenge of balancing the fun, welcoming learning environment we all value with the growing demands of security in today's modern society. Sally has to be aware of food allergies, keep track of all her children's parents and guardians, and manage the growing demands of reporting who and how many she served to senior leadership.
All of this on top of finding rewarding curriculum and fun activities. It seems almost like an impossible task. However, with the proper policies and procedures in place, your children's ministry can continue to operate in a streamlined and effective fashion.
Here are five tips to help make sure you have smiling parents and safe kids.
1. Select great volunteers.
However, be wary. It is much better to error on the side of caution when it comes to selecting volunteers for your children's programs. Some say that all volunteers must be regular attendees for six months before they are even allowed to be considered and that all children's ministry volunteers must be referred or approved by congregation members.
Finally, you should have all volunteers complete a background check and require them to complete a written application.
2. Equip them with thorough procedures and ample training.
In addition, be sure they take precautions in dealing with body fluids, such as blood and vomit, and encourage them to document all incidents from bumped heads and biting to eating and potty behavior. It is important that your volunteers not only have the equipment they need but the necessary access to training, as well. Consider regular training meetings or create easy-to-read instruction manuals.
3. Create a solid check-in-/-check-out procedure.
4. Promote two-way parent communication.
In addition to allergies, parents often like to tell child care providers about and hear back from them about how their child is behaving. Consider using a simple paper form with three faces (smiley, neutral, and frowning) on it with some room for writing notes. Encourage your volunteers to simply circle the appropriate face that reflects each child's attitude and write a quick note to parents. You'll be amazed at how something this simple will make parents feel like you really care.
5. Maintain accurate records and information policies.
Spend time working on these five areas of your ministry, and soon you'll be able to rest assured knowing you have smiling parents and safe kids.
Alex Smith is chief executive officer of KidCheck, Inc., which provides a secure online check-in solution for child care professionals, www.kidcheck.com.