Safe Sanctuaries Policies

Selection and Screening of Volunteers

In an effort to create a safe environment within our community of faith, each volunteer who participates in our ministry with children/youth, either regularly or occasionally, on or beyond the church property, will:
• Be an active and familiar member or friend of the congregation
• Meet with the staff person responsible for the ministry
• Annually complete and sign the application form (Form in Booklet)
• Annually complete and sign the Questionnaire on Sexual Misconduct (Form in Booklet)
• Provide a photocopy of their driver’s license or other photo identification
• Read, understand, and agree to abide by the general guidelines contained in this document
• Participate in the annual seminar to review these general guidelines or individually complete this review training with the children or youth minister.

The written materials will be kept in a secure location in the offices of the church. *
Paid Staff Members

All paid staff members shall upon their acceptance for hiring shall:
• Be informed of the Guidelines for Safety and Supervision of Children and Youth
• Give Permission for Criminal Background Check (Form in booklet)
Screening summaries will be kept in a locked filing cabinet as part of your personnel file. All results of the screening are mailed to you directly from the screening agency.
• Participate in the annual staff seminar of the general guidelines
• Be trained in First Aid, CPR, and the use of the AED at their earliest convenience
The written materials will be kept in a secure location in the offices of the church. *
Two Adult Rule

We will have at least two adults not of the same household (at least five years older than the oldest participant) present for all activities involving children and youth. If for some reason only one adult is present in a classroom during a program, there must be full visibility into the room at all times. Outings and retreats off the church campus sponsored by the congregation and any overnight activities will have a minimum of one adult from each gender (1 male and 1 female) present for the event to take place unless the event or program is gender specific. *
Windows in All Classroom Doors

Each room set aside for children and youth ministry shall have a window in it or a half door which shall not be covered. This provides openness and visibility into all spaces used by children and youth and prevents secret places which could invite inappropriate behaviors. *

If a small child needs to use the restroom, an adult will ensure there are no adults present in the restroom before allowing the child to enter. The adult is not to enter the restroom stalls unless the child requests or needs and approves of assistance. Older children may go in pairs. Youth may use the restrooms without supervision. *
Emergency Information Form For Children

Emergency Information Forms are required from all participants involved in congregational programs and events on campus. Copies of these forms will be kept in the child’s Sunday School room. At the conclusion of a program year, these forms will be shred. *
Medical Release & Emergency Contact Form

Medical Release Forms are required from all middle school and high school participants involved in congregational programs and events. Students complete this form at start of year, or when they join the group, returning to the Youth Minister as soon as possible. Forms are kept in the Youth Minister’s office for retrieval in the event of a medical emergency. For out-of-town trips, additional forms may be added according to the service project’s requirements. Copies of any of these forms will be kept in one of the vehicles and the originals will be kept in the office. At the conclusion of a program year, these forms will be shred. *
Overnight Stays

Children and youth shall have supervised sleeping quarters, with adult chaperones. In situations where boys and girls can be separated with supervision, this will be the preferred arrangement. *
Information for Parents/Guardians

Information shall be provided to the parent(s) or guardian(s) prior to an off-campus event/program stating the times for departure and return, the location of the event/program, the adults participating in the event, and emergency contacts phone numbers. *

All transportation of children or youth must be provided by an adult at least 25 years of age, who possesses a valid driver’s license for the vehicle operated, and can provide proof of adequate automobile insurance. Seat belts, child seats, and other mandated restraints must be used. *
First Aid/CPR/AED

We will seek to have all of our staff who works with children or youth trained in first aid, CPR, and in the use of the AEDs located in the church building. We will have at least one staff or volunteer so trained at every program/event involving children or youth. *
Accident/Injury Report

If an accident or injury occurs during any children or youth activity/program, an adult volunteer or staff must complete an Incident Report within 24 hours. *
Volunteers and Staff Supervising One Another

All volunteers and staff are responsible for confronting what they believe to be improper, irresponsible, or inappropriate behavior by other volunteers or staff with whom they are serving. This should be done privately and discreetly as soon as the opportunity allows; unless there is an immediate abusive threat or potential for injury, in which case the response should be immediate. Any improper, inappropriate, or irresponsible behavior must also be reported to a Pastor as soon as possible. If the behavior involves a Pastor, is should be reported to the Senior Minister; if it involves the Senior Minister, should be reported to the District Superintendent. In the case where the report of an incident is first made to a person of trust (Trustee, SPRC member, Christian Education Director, etc.), the expectation would be that the person of trust, familiar with these procedures, would then aid in the reporting to a Pastor, Senior Minister, or District Superintendent. *
Responding to Allegations of Abuse

If an incident of inappropriate behavior or abuse is suspected by, observed by, or disclosed to a volunteer, paid staff person, or any member of the church including a parent, that person shall immediately contact the Director of Christian Education, Youth Director, or Pastor. If a Pastor perpetrated the incident, the Senior Minister is to be contacted. If the incident involves the Senior Minister, the District Superintendent shall be contacted. The witness/confidant/parent first alerted to a situation is also encouraged to speak directly to the suspected individual, if the witness/confidant/parent feels capable of doing so. If a person chooses, he/she may also report the incident to the proper authorities.

After being contacted, the Director or Pastor will speak with the victim’s parents/guardians as soon as possible with or without the victim present. The Director or Pastor will create an Incident Report with all pertinent information, including: names of all people involved (including the ages of any children or youth), all witnesses (if any), the time and date of the incident, the particular event in which the incident occurred, the nature of the incident, and the name and signature of the person making the allegation.

If the accused is a Director or Pastor, the Senior Minister or District Superintendent will speak to the victim’s parents/guardians as soon as possible with or without the victim present and complete an Incident Report.

The next step is for the Director or Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) to talk with the accused expeditiously. The accused will be treated with care, dignity, and support. If the accused is a volunteer or staff person, he/she may be temporarily relieved of all duties and responsibilities (with pay when applicable) related to work with children or youth at the discretion of the Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) until the incident is resolved.

A report of the Director or Pastor interview with the accused stating the date and time of the interview, detailed notes of the interview, names of any witnesses, and detailed notes of subsequent interviews with those witnesses, including time and date, signed by all present, must be compiled by the Director or Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) and attached to the Incident Report.

If the Director or Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) discover that the alleged incident was a misunderstanding (a situation in which there was no harm done and misperceptions led to an escalation of emotions) and all agree that it was not an incident of abuse, the complaint will be dropped, and the accused immediately reinstated in ministry.

For cases in which the incident is not deemed abuse, but is considered a serious violation of trust, (an incident in which power or circumstance were mishandled by those in authority) appropriate administrative action will be taken with consideration for the type of violation, the potential for harm, the legality of the action, and the long-term effects of the violation. Administrative action can include behavioral reprimand to termination of volunteer or staff interaction with children or youth.

If a report is filed with the authorities, their personnel will carry out the investigation. After reporting the incident to the authorities, the insurance carrier for the congregation should also be contacted by the Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) along with the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees. In the event that an incident becomes public knowledge, any contact with the media shall be handled solely by a person designated by the Board of Trustees. Other persons associated with the church are encouraged to refer the media to the designated spokesperson if asked about the incident or individuals involved.

Care will be taken throughout this process to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of all involved. The designated spokesperson will state our policy, outline the appropriate procedures being followed, and generally convey that the matter is under investigation and any further comments made prior to the conclusion of the investigation would be premature. Any further comments will be discussed and agreed upon by the Board of Trustees. The spokesperson will share the same information with the congregation in a timely fashion and using appropriate means to avoid rumors. *
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