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Why Your Church Needs a Nursery Check-In Solution
By: Alex Smith

Blast from the Past:
Look at airport security these days. It takes longer to board a plane due to heightened security caused by the threat of terrorism, but most people agree that it is a necessary step to protect the safety of the travelers. It's the same with church nurseries. Parents need to be patient and understand that a few moments of inconvenience is nothing compared to the safety of their children.
--"How to Protect Children in Church Nurseries," October 2007

A children's check-in system provides enhanced security and is vital to child safety, yet the benefits and success truly come from a combination of the check-in system itself and how well the staff in the organization uses it. 

Regardless of whether you are using an electronic solution, or other method, certain tracking and safety measures are a necessity. You must have accurate records of children checking in/out, know who is picking up the children, be aware of any allergy or medical concerns, and have a process to verify people are who they say they are.  

The Stark Reality
What are some of the real threats? Every year, between 1.3 and 1.8 million children are reported missing in the United States alone, and the FBI records an average of 2,100 new missing children cases per day. 

Those are some alarming facts. Making it even more complex are today's dynamic and blended family situations. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an estimated 200,000 kids are abducted by a family member and 58,000 by nonfamily members.

These statistics underscore the importance of child safety processes and procedures. Implementing a children's check-in solution is just one way to improve security and combat these threats.

Electronic check-in/out systems increase the level of security over a manual process with built-in security measures such as name badges, random matching security codes between children and guardians, immediate access to location information, and detailed records on both children and guardians. 

The Solution is Only as Good as the People Using It
No check in system will keep children safe without the proper implementation, staff training, and design around the systems you use. You must know and have vetted your volunteers, parents, employees; understand who authorized and unauthorized guardians are; and know where and with whom kids are at all times. The system and procedures you implement must be ones your personnel and volunteers can quickly understand, consistently use, and easily follow. 

The Importance of Accurate Guardian and Child Information
Having up-to-date, correct information on all aspects associated with the children in your care is key to improving security. One unique feature one check in system, KidCheck, is parent maintained accounts. Parents easily provide the necessary family information, as well as keep it up-to-date, without you needing to do the input or maintenance work. 

Additionally, documents such as restraining orders, court orders or medical information associated with a child can be kept right in the account for easy access. All this information is available to an organization as soon as the child checks into that facility. 

Administrators for the organization then have access to all the information. That information and the check-in system itself, in conjunction with using the proper check-in and check-out procedures, increase child safety. 

Perception Is Reality
In addition to tangible improvements in child security, the perception of child safety you provide is extremely important. Parents and visitors are leaving what is most precious to them in your care and expect a safe and loving environment. They won't feel comfortable attending and entrusting their children to your staff if they don't feel it's safe. 

Additionally, no employee or volunteer wants to be put in a position where the organization, or they themselves, may possibly be held liable for a child leaving with the wrong person. Not to mention the huge financial and legal liability if a child is harmed or abducted while in your care.

A check-in system helps instill confidence, implements a culture and environment of safety, and makes a loud and clear statement that your facility is safe, secure, and takes the security of children very seriously. 

Emergencies and Peace of Mind
Electronic check-in systems also provide information on which children are in your facility and exactly where those kids are, allowing you to more quickly and effectively enact emergency plans and contingencies.

Whether for an emergency situation, or for more basic updates, parent communication is simple.  A text messaging feature allows you to quickly, and privately, notify a parent if their child needs something or an emergency arises. 

Alternately, it can also provide peace of mind that all is well, allowing them to relax and enjoy the service. Imagine the anxiety for a parent leaving their child in your care when the child is crying and upset about the transition…then imagine the relief and ability to refocus when they receive a text their child is now sleeping peacefully. 

Check-In System + You = Winning Combination
Implementing a secure children's check-in solution is an important step to improve security; however, it is truly the people behind the system that determine the ultimate security and success of that system. The children's pastors, volunteers, etc. are truly the gate keepers for the safety of the children while in your care.

Utilizing key tools, such as an electronic check-in solution, coupled with the proper execution, training and expectation for your staff is a winning combination. 

Alex Smith is CEO of KidCheck, secure children's check-in solutions, www.kidcheck.com. He is a data security and child safety expert, church safety team leader, former police officer, and consultant to the Air Force and FBI on data security and cyber terrorism.

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