Safe Sanctuary

Safe Sanctuaries for Children and Youth

Policies and Procedures for Christ United Methodist Church

INTRODUCTION

In keeping with the resolution adopted by the general conference of the United Methodist Church in April 1996, the biblical teachings and the traditions and beliefs of the United Methodist Church, we the Church Council of Christ United Methodist Church adopt the following policy and procedures to provide a safe sanctuary for children and youth.  These policies will be reviewed annually by the Church Council.

PURPOSE

Christ United Methodist Church adopts the following policies and procedures to provide a safe and secure environment within the church and for any event that is connected with the ministries and operations of our church.  While the primary reason for this policy is to prevent abuse and neglect of children and youth, it has been adopted to protect all who enter our doors.  “Child” and “youth” shall be deemed synonymous and shall be defined as any person less than eighteen (18) years of age for the purpose of these procedures.  “Adult” shall be defined as any person who is eighteen (18) years or older.

STATEMENT OF COVENANT AND POLICY

As a Christian community of faith, Christ United Methodist Church strives to conduct the ministry of the Gospel in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of our children and youth, as well as all paid employees or volunteers who mentor and support them.  In support of this goal, Christ United Methodist Church’s Council has adopted policies and procedures intended to reduce the risk of child abuse, neglect or exploitation as defined by the General Statutes of North Carolina.  These policies and procedures incorporate practices intended to ensure:

  • That reasonable safety measures are followed in the selection and recruitment of workers;
  • Prudent operational procedures are implemented for all programs and events;
  • Education is provided for individuals working with children;
  • A clearly defined procedure exists for reporting a suspected incident of abuse that conforms to the requirements of state law; and
  • Media response preparation in the event an incident occurs.

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Hiring Policies: Applicants for employment by the church who will be working with or around children must submit a completed employment application to include a detailed work history and references.  All offers of employment are contingent upon completion of a criminal background check, employment history and reference check.  Driving records must also be obtained for any employees who will or may be required to transport children or other adults.

Existing Employees: Existing employees of the church who work with or are around children must be willing to submit to criminal record, employment history and reference checks.  Driving records must also be checked for any employee who will or may be required to transport children or other adults.  Background checks will be completed for all existing employees no later than 12/31/2006.

Updated driving records will be obtained every three years for any employees who will or may be required to transport children or other adults.  Updated criminal record checks will be obtained every five years for all paid employees.

Volunteers: Volunteers working with youth in leadership roles are subject to the same background checks as paid employees.  At least one volunteer who has been selected for a leadership role and has undergone the required background checks must participate in all events involving children and youth.  Background checks for volunteers who currently hold leadership roles and work with children or youth will be completed no later than 12/31/2006.  Background checks for volunteers who are assuming leadership roles for the first time will be completed within 90 days of the individual assuming the role.

Rule of Two: Whenever possible a minimum of two unrelated adults should be present for any church sponsored program or event.  Adults should avoid being alone with a child or youth at any time

Open Doors and Monitors: In the event it is not possible to always have two unrelated adults in a classroom or at an event, doors must remain open at all times.  A monitor should also be assigned to make unscheduled visits to all classrooms or areas.

Visibility in Rooms: Every room that is used for activities and teaching of children and youth should have a window in the door, or a half door that gives visibility to all areas of the room.  The window must be left uncovered.  If there is no window, the door must be left open at all times.  All inside entry doors will be modified to include a window or redesigned as a half door no later than 12/31/2007.

Age Limits:  Staff and volunteers should be at least five years older than the oldest child or youth being supervised.  No one under the age of eighteen should be given supervisory responsibility.

Supervision or Children: Children under the age of 12 years old should always be accompanied by a parent or guardian when leaving worship service or any other church gathering.  While it is the responsibility of the parents or guardians to supervise their children, at least one usher will be positioned at the front and back of the sanctuary during worship services.  An usher will also be responsible for taking up the end line position when groups of children leave the sanctuary to participate in Children’s Church to ensure that all children are safely escorted to the designated location.

Open Door Counseling: Pastoral counseling is expected to be confidential in nature, but for the protection of both parties the pastor’s study should have a small glass window in it.

First Aid and CPR: At least one adult at every church activity should be certified in basic first aid and CPR.  The church will maintain 5 first aid kits.  These kits are located in the kitchen beside the phone, in the sanctuary coat closet across from the men’s bathroom, and in the education building snack room beside the light switch.  A first aid kit will also be kept in the glove compartment of each church van.  All paid employees and volunteers in leadership roles are required to take first aid and CPR training.  All other volunteers are encouraged to participate in the training.  Training will be offered annually.

Communication and Advance Notice to Parents: Parents should always be kept abreast of the programs their children or youth are involved in, and be given advance notice and information regarding any activity which deviates from the traditional classroom instruction offered at the church during Sunday School, UMYF, Vacation Bible School or other regular activities at the church.  Permission forms with medical information signed by a parent or legal guardian should accompany children or youth for any activity involving travel or sports activity.  Permission forms must clearly grant the approval to obtain emergency medical care.

Age and activity appropriate equipment: Periodic checks will be conducted to ensure the safety and appropriateness of the equipment used in the nursery, classrooms and playground.

Liability Insurance: The church will review at least annually its liability insurance polices to evaluate limits and coverage.

Reporting Allegations of Abuse: Any suspected or reported case of neglect or abuse should be reported immediately to the Pastor and Church Council Chairperson.  In the event the Pastor is implicated, the Church Council Chairperson must notify the District Superintendent.  The Pastor must immediately complete an incident report with all available details.  Incident reporting forms will be kept in the church secretary’s office.  The District Superintendent should be notified by the next business day when possible.  It will then be the decision of the District Superintendent as to the appropriate action to be taken.  The District Superintendent shall have final local authority in the matter; however, in no event shall the Pastor or District Superintendent fail to report substantiated abuse or neglect to the proper law enforcement or social service agency as required by North Carolina state law.  In situations in which the Pastor is implicated the reporting responsibilities are transferred to the Church Council Chairperson.

Designated Spokesperson: The Pastor shall serve as the sole spokesperson for the church concerning any allegations of neglect or abuse.  In the event the Pastor is implicated, the Church Council Chairperson must seek guidance from the District Superintendent regarding the designation of the appropriate spokesperson on behalf of the church.

 

Education and Training: All paid employees and volunteers should be provided with a copy of the Safe Sanctuaries for Children and Youth Policies and Procedures and should sign an acknowledgment of receipt and review of the material.  The signed acknowledgement should be obtained from new employees or volunteers prior to commencement of their new duties.  Existing paid employees and volunteers must review and sign an acknowledgement of their review of the material no later than 3/31/2006.  A training session to review the policies and procedures will be conducted annually.  Paid employees  and volunteers in leadership roles will be required to participate in the annual training.  All other volunteers will be strongly encouraged to participate in the annual training.

Presence of Registered Sex Offenders: The Weekday Ministries Program of Christ United Methodist Church will have a “No Tolerance” plan in effect for individuals accused of charges with sexual offenses.  If you become aware of a sexual offender on campus, call 911 immediately and then immediately notify the director.  Campus actions will be communicated within 24 hours by email or phone and followed up with a called staff meeting the next working day.