Aiphone banner

Creating a Child Check-In Process from Scratch

March 7, 2023 jill Blog
Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

By Josiah Oslund

When we sat down to create our child check-in process for our church plant over a decade ago, I was reminded of God’s words to Moses in Exodus 4:2, “What do you have in your hand?”

When starting a new work, it’s often easier to see what you don’t have – rather than what you do. But I think the best place to start is where you already are. The path between where you are and where you want to be becomes clearer in light of your immediate context.

For example:


  • Do you rent/borrow space or do you own?
  • Are you a ‘portable church’ with weekly load in/out, or can you make permanent installations of signage/banners/kiosks?
  • Proximity from your kids check-in/out area to ‘big’ church: too close? Too far?
  • Entry/Exit points into kids area: Are there safety challenges? Are there emergency/lockdown/evacuation plans in place?
  • Flow: From the street to their seat, how easy is it for a family to drop their kids off and make it into the service in a timely manner? Are there any potential bottlenecks to consider that could cause a check-in “back-up” if technology goes down, or if multiple new families arrive at the same time?
  • Do you have clear directional signage indicating where the kids area is and what to do once a family has arrived?

Team (Volunteers)

  • Who is already on your team and what do they bring to the table? Do you have gifted teachers, entertainers, servers, tech geniuses, hospitality wizards, caretakers, baby holders and diaper-changers?
  • If you have a shortage of volunteers, try recruiting for rotation: “Would you consider serving in kids one service per month?” Target parents that have kids in the ministry area.
  • Do you have an on-boarding process for new volunteers (application, background check, training, etc.)?


  • Inventory furniture, toys, cribs, changing tables, swings, high chairs, craft supplies, curriculum, etc.
  • Inventory TVs, computers, tablets, printers, Internet access
  • Most digital check-in systems work with equipment you already have. Seven of the iPads my church uses on a weekly basis are 11 years old and they work great! Don’t spend money unnecessarily and consider buying quality used or refurbished tech when needed.
  • Do any of your volunteers own smartphones that would be willing to use them as check-in tools on days they serve?

What do you already have that could be used, repurposed or sold and reinvested into equipment that moves your vision forward? What do you have in your hand?

When I took inventory of the people and resources available to our new church, I realized we were not actually starting from ‘scratch’ at all.

Borrow and Tweak

Did you know it’s okay to ask for copies of other churches’ policies, procedures, handbooks, incident reports, best practices, applications, etc. and then cut/copy/pasted the pieces that fit your unique context?

Then all you have to do is run them by your lawyer and insurance company before implementing to ensure they align with local statutes and policy coverages. Chances are if you’re starting something new, there will be a lot of things that you don’t know you don’t know yet (until they happen), so why not learn from the experiences of other churches in your area?

There’s More to Learn from Other Churches

In the months leading up to our church’s launch, I visited 14 other churches. A Saturday night here, an early service there. At every church I visited, I made sure to check out the kids area and made mental notes about things like:

  • Directional signage: How easy was it to find, and how clear were the first steps?
  • Volunteers: Were they easily identifiable (by a t-shirt or lanyard)? Were they looking for new faces and anticipating needs? Where were they physically positioned? How did they assist with check-ins? How were kids handed-off?
  • Families: Was there a line to get in? Were there bottlenecks that could have been prevented with a little planning and resource?
  • Check-In stations: Were they easily identifiable and easy to use? Did their physical positioning make sense or were they crowding an entryway?

I challenged our launch team to dream up our “Ideal Check-In/Out process.” This meant taking into consideration our current facility, people and equipment. It also meant thinking beyond the current limitations of available check-in systems. The best tools should be flexible enough to fit your needs – not dictate them.

Here’s what we came up with (and why):

  1. We consolidated our three entry points into one (the one nearest the Worship Center).

The other 2 doors remained locked from the outside as exit only. This allowed us to control the flow of people and quickly assess any potential threats.

  1. We created a “corral” for families entering the kids area.

In the kids lobby or “corral,” we built rolling desks that served as a registration area for guests, as well as a visual barrier to the classroom area. Opposite the registration area, we had multiple wall-mounted tablets with label printers where returning families could ‘self-check’ their kids into the building before handing them off to volunteers who would escort them from the corral to their classroom(s). This allowed parents to quickly move on to the service (reducing bottlenecks). First-time guests could efficiently register by talking to a volunteer who would then show them how to use the self-check stations on their next visit.

During high-visitor days (Easter, Christmas, Baby Dedications, etc.), we would have extra volunteers in the lobby with their own mobile devices assisting guests with this process. We opted to have our check-in system print a “Guardian Receipt” along with the kids name labels, which the parents could use to ‘redeem’ their kids at the end of service.

  1. Each classroom had a tablet that could see who was assigned to their room that had been checked-in to the building – but not yet into the room.

When the child arrived with their escort, a room volunteer would check them into the room (medical notes/food allergies would pop-up when applicable). If a child left the room to use the restroom, the room volunteer would check them out of the room again until they returned. This kept a log of kids’ whereabouts, as well as allowed the children’s director to see a real-time overview of all the classrooms. If a parent needed to be called back to assist, the volunteer could send them a message through the tablet app, which sent a text message to the parent’s mobile phone.

  1. After service, parents could flash their Guardian Receipt at the “corral” gate before proceeding to their kid’s room(s) to pick them up.

A room volunteer would verify the check-in code on the receipt matched that day’s code when checking their child out of the building. If the code didn’t match, our kids director may be called over to approve the check-out. (In 11 years, we only had one incident in a shared-custody situation where a different parent attempted to remove their kids (without the other parent knowing) using an old receipt – but it’s still worth us double-checking). Once their kids are collected, families can exit through any of the three exits.

Your process may vary greatly depending on the scale and context of your ministry, but feel free to “borrow and tweak.”


Before implementing a new process or system, hold a volunteer training that walks through each step together and why each step is important. Communicate with parents about upcoming changes, expectations, dates and why you believe these changes are in the best interest of their children.

Keep on Tweaking

Once your process is rolling, don’t be afraid to tweak it as needed. During the pandemic, my church added a “Touchless Check-in” option to using a shared tablet, among other safety precautions. Technology and social expectations are continually evolving, so why not occasionally ask yourself the question, “Is there a better way?”

What do you have in your hand, and how can it be used to serve your congregation well?

Josiah Oslund serves on staff at Renovation Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the founder of Kidddo, child check-in software with a focus on simplicity and customization,


Tags: ,