Churches need to have child protection policies. This isn’t an option – it’s a must. Edna Jordan, Director of Child Protection, here at Headquarters, has listed nine guidelines for clubs. Make sure these guidelines are incorporated into your Awana program.
1. Inform church members and kids’ ministry volunteers about the prevalence of various kinds of childhood abuse and talk about these issues as a church. Keep the dialogue open and ongoing.
2. Screen those who come in contact with children/youth. Use applications and background checks. Check sex offender registries online; a step which costs you nothing. Be up-front with people about screening and let them know you are using the information for child protection.
3. Establish policies and procedures for working with children. Put all of your practices into writing and present it to your pastor. This not only protects the children, but also helps protect your church in difficult situations.
4. Design a check-in and check-out procedure for children. This can be a very simple procedure with check lists. Or it can be a more elaborate computerized system that also allows the parents/guardians to add information about allergies the child may have.
5. Supervise and regularly check classrooms, offices and other areas where children and adults are together during ministry gatherings. Two or more adults should be with each group of children.
6. Report any child abuse or suspected child abuse to the proper authorities.
7. Retain records. Be sure you can show you demonstrate proper screening and training of children’s workers.
8. Seek professional advice. Legal counsel and your church’s insurance company, as well as local law enforcement, can assist you with child protection questions.
9. Always, always take child protection seriously.