Over the last few weeks, my team and I have been reevaluating our safety and security procedures. We are growing like crazy and trying to make sure that the policies that worked during past seasons will continue to do the job as we grow.
We are also about to launch a third campus, which forces us to take a hard look at everything we're doing to make sure it's what we want to pass on to campus number three. So in the midst of this we've started asking a million questions about the way our security currently works and where the holes are.
Okay, there are more than ten questions here, but this is a huge topic, and is obviously the most important thing we do.
Whatever season your church is in, I'd encourage you to sit down and honestly evaluate the following ten areas. Bring some parents or other ministry leaders into the mix and ask them to help you think through it with fresh eyes.
1. Volunteer Screening
What kind of background screening do we have in place for our volunteers? Do they fill out an application? Does the application ask the right questions? How about an interview? Do we check references? How about criminal backgrounds checks and sex offender registries? Are new leaders completely through this process BEFORE we allow them access to our kids or do we get desperate and stick them in early?
2. Kids Alone with Adults
Is there any place in the ministry where kids could ever end up alone with an adult? If so, what steps do we need to put into place TODAY to make sure that this NEVER happens?
3. Restroom Policies
What are our restroom policies? Are volunteers allowed to go into restrooms with kids? If so, are other leaders there to keep them accountable (and to guard them against false accusations)?
4. Check-In and Check-Out
How secure is our check-in and check-out? Do we have a good system for matching children's name tags and parent pick up tags or do we just count on knowing all the parents? How do we handle special check-out situations, such as if the adult lost their pick up tag or if one person drops off and another person picks up? How hard would it be for someone to take a child from our environment without proper authorization?
5. Secured Entrances and Exits
How do we control traffic in our children's space? Is it easy for people to come and go or do we have some way of controlling the entrances so that only authorized leaders are allowed in with our kids? How hard would it be for a child to escape during the service?
6. Reporting Abuse
Do our leaders know the signs of child abuse? Do they understand their responsibility to report these to the authorities? Is there a clear expectation and process in our church for them to follow?
What's our plan in the event of a fire, tornado or potential shooting situation? Who notifies us if someone goes nuts in the worship service? Do we have the capability to lock down our kids' rooms if needed? Who notifies us when the coast is clear? Could we do some kind of a drill for this stuff?
How well do our leaders know and understand our safety policies? What do we do during leader orientation to guarantee that everyone knows what they need to know? Do they sign off on anything stating that they full understand these policies? What are creative ways we can get these policies in front of our leaders to keep them current?
How well do we cast vision to our parents and leaders for security? Do they understand the big picture of why all of these little details matter? Do our leaders understand that EVERYONE is responsible for the security of our kids?
How often do reevaluate our security policies? Are we proactive or do we wait until we have a crisis to revisit our procedures? Have we included security experts, such as local law enforcement officers, in our planning? Who else needs to be a part of this conversation? What next steps do we need to take to ensure the safety of our kids?
I'm sure this isn't an exhaustive list, but it should definitely be enough to get the conversation started. Unfortunately we have to always think through the worst case scenarios and never assume it couldn't happen at our church. Jesus told the disciples to be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves. I can't think of anywhere that applies more than in the Kidmin world.
When was the last time you evaluated your safety and security policies? What other questions do we need to ask to keep our kids safe?