With the number of working parents increasing, daycare is becoming more and more of a relied upon service for families. Many count on their place of worship to offer daycare services for small children, but just because a daycare operates at a faith-based location doesn’t mean parents should automatically trust that their child will be safe.
According to the National Center for Abused and Exploited Children, an estimated 203,000 children are kidnapped every year by family members, and a staggering 7% of those children are taken from their school or childcare center. It’s these type of scenarios that a daycare center must be trusted to handle correctly.
And, according to security expert Jim McGuffey, who is one of 130 security professionals worldwide to hold all three ASIS International board certifications in security accredited by the Department of Homeland Security, video surveillance is a necessity at any childcare center.
“I insist that where (a place of worship) has childcare, they must have cameras. Especially with infants, because infants cannot speak for themselves,” McGuffey said. “If a child has to go to the hospital and they find out he’s got a slight fracture, all of the sudden the issue becomes: Was it the parent? Was it the child caregiver? And there’s a big open question mark.”
To McGuffey’s point, parents would be wise to send their children to a daycare center that has video surveillance installed. By the same token, if a daycare center hopes to receive a large enrollment, they should properly equip the daycare center.
We have listed five tips to properly secure a church daycare center below. Parents should use this list as a checklist for prospective daycare centers, and places of worship should use it to evaluate their own facilities.
- Install HD CCTV Video Surveillance on the Premises
It’s extremely important for childcare centers to have professionally installed video surveillance equipment on the premises to serve as both a deterrence measure for crime and a reference point if a crime does occur. Optimally, a childcare center would have HD video security cameras set to record time-stamped video at every entrance and exit to the building.
There should also be cameras recording in the common areas to address the type of problems that McGuffey highlighted. This way, if a child suffers an injury, there’s a reference point that can be checked to determine what the cause of the problem was.
- Implement Security Policies & Procedures
Every childcare center should have a set of policies and procedures in place that every employee and parent knows. At a minimum, a childcare center should require a sign-in and sign-out of every child, and there should be a referenceable list of who is responsible for both dropping off and picking up children each day. This may seem like a lot of work to do on a daily basis, but it’s worth it when you consider the possible repercussions of ignoring policies like this.
Childcare providers are legally responsible for the children in their care, according to CultureofSafety.com. In the event of an emergency or a crime, the childcare provider can be prosecuted, and even if they’re found to be innocent, court costs and legal defense can be extremely expensive. It would serve a childcare center much better to have video surveillance in place as a reference.
- Maintain the Building and Tidy Up Landscaping
The quality of the windows, doors and deadbolt locks can easily get overlooked if a childcare center has been in operation for a long time. It’s easy to get set in your ways, but it’s extremely important to upgrade any aspects of the building that could lead to an eventual security breach.
If you notice that one of the locks looks like it could be easily jiggled free, replace it with a brand-new deadbolt lock. If the door frames are falling apart, replace them. If the windows can easily be pried open, take care of the problem.
It’s also very important to properly maintain the shrubbery and landscaping outside of the childcare center. If there are overgrown bushes and tree limbs outside the facility, it can provide criminals with extra cover and give off the impression that no one cares about the facility.
- Limit the Number of Access Points to the Facility
If possible, limit the number of possible entry points to your facility. If there are many side doors or hallways in your childcare center, make sure that the kids can’t possibly escape from them, and, conversely, make sure no criminals could access the facility.
One of the biggest keys to any security approach is limiting points of entry. If you can do this successfully, and pair it with video surveillance technology, your childcare center will have an extremely high level of security.
- Do an Annual Security Audit
At the end of every year, review the state of your technology, policies and procedures to make sure all the rules are being followed properly and that the technology is working as intended. If there is something that seems to be bothering employees or parents, make note of it and address the issue.
This information is courtesy of Supreme Security Systems, a locally owned business that has been protecting New Jersey businesses and homeowners since 1929 with commercial and residential security systems. They offer state-of-the-art technology, their own 24/7 central monitoring station, and expert service and maintenance, www.supremealarm.com.