Protecting your congregations  youth

Protecting your congregation's youth: 5 tips for church childcare safety

By Glatfelter Risk Team on February 14, 2019

How can you help better protect your church’s youngest members?

At the same time that churches are experiencing rapidly declining attendance rates, religious organization-affiliated daycares and preschools are experiencing rapid growth — to the extent that waiting lists are becoming the norm. This demand leads to full care centers and busy, sometimes stressed staff members. In the hustle and bustle of childcare management, it’s important to revisit safety procedures often.

We’re covering five tips for your church to help keep its child care facility a safe and fun place for all who play and learn there:

  1. Carefully vet each candidate during the hiring process

In most states, your hiring process is already legally required to include the standard licenses, certifications and background checks, and you should have set guidelines or requirements pertaining to experience and education.  While most organizations try to fill available positions quickly due to ratios or sheer necessity, we recommend adding an extra step to your process.

If you haven’t done so already, implementing a personality test, role-playing or a field test into your hiring process can help you better understand your potential candidates. We don’t recommend adding this step for every resume you receive. Narrow your list of candidates through screening and one-on-one interviews. When you have a short list of potential team members, you can consider adding this step.  RecruiterBox offers their five favorite personality tests to use when making a hiring decision. Keep your organization in mind when you choose a test – you need to make sure it’s evaluating exactly what you need.

  1. Learning never stops

An important aspect of building safety in your church’s childcare center is creating a culture that emphasizes continued education and training. Every day, there are new ideas that can help you provide improved care to the children enrolled in your care center.

From appropriate and respectful disciplinary actions to effective responding and reporting of incidents and defining appropriate behavior, industry leaders develop new techniques and tools to handle the day-to-day tasks of child care providers. Continued dedication to research, in-house training, external training and education can help your team develop a greater understanding of the best ways to keep everyone safe.

  1. Implement strict pick-up and drop-off restrictions

When it comes to check-in and out procedures, you have a number of options. It’s up to you and your team to decide what will work best for your organization. However, once a plan is chosen, it needs to be strictly enforced. There isn’t room for bending the rules when it comes to the safety of children.

When you build your plan for daycare check in and out, be sure to include a section that covers what to do when there is a dispute or dangerous situation. Culture of Safety shares their best practices for unanticipated situations at pick-up time.

  1. Prepare and prevent

We all know the saying from our childhood — practice makes perfect. However, it takes on a new meaning when we’re talking about disaster prep. Whether it’s a hurricane, tornado or snow storm, it pays to be prepared. Yes, disasters are a scary thought, but you’ll be glad you took the time to cover what to do in an emergency.

Is your church prepared for the possibility of a severe storm? Learn more. >>>

Not all crises take the form of a natural disaster. Unfortunately, child abuse is still common. It’s a risk that can’t be ignored and prevention is key. We recently covered the risks of sexual abuse with 4 tips to help you protect your youth from sexual abuse and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a comprehensive manual regarding child abuse and neglect — you can use these resources to help guide your entire team in the effort to prevent and report abuse.

  1. Secure your facility

We’re going to cover three basics of childcare security: entrances, visitors and monitoring.

Starting with entrances, you have several options when securing your buildings. Culture of Safety has broken down three door lock options and the costs, setup, maintenance and special considerations of each system, resulting in a helpful guide. Evaluating each and determining what your facility needs will lead you to the best options for your organization. It’s important to note that your entrance ways should remain secure at all times, regardless of the time of day.

Other than potential families visiting a daycare during the day, the only people in the facility should be the staff, directors and children. Your safety policy should address visitation and make a clear statement establishing that (other than for pick-up and drop-off) parents and grandparents should not be stopping by the facility.

Video monitoring is a great way to ensure that only the appropriate personnel are entering your facility and that your staff is maintaining a high level of care. You can upgrade your safety measures by having cameras installed at your entryways, as well as in a few locations around the church. Hopping In has a great pros and cons list of installing cameras in your daycare center.

This is just the beginning of a comprehensive list of tips for keeping your childcare center safe and secure. You have many aspects to consider, all of which depend on your organization. Consider these tips as you work through building and refreshing your safety plans.

What safety measures does your church have in place to keep your youth safe at daycare? Let us know!

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Glatfelter Risk Team

When this team of rockstars isn't immersed in the process of researching how to reduce the risks your organization faces, we share stories of our pets, kids and favorite pizza toppings—on the daily.

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