Safe Place Guidelines
The task of the Ministries Coordinating Team (MCT) is to provide a safe haven for children, youth, and disabled adults who attend the Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren. Thus, a Safe Place Committee, representing the MCT, shall implement, oversee and review the guidelines and report any suggested changes to the MCT annually.
The Safe Place Committee will consist of the following individuals: Senior Pastor, Youth Pastor, Children’s Pastor, Finance Team Leader, Moderator & Ministry Assistant. This committee, chaired by the Senior Pastor, will report to the MCT. *In the event of a vacancy of a youth or children’s pastor, a representative of the YMT and/or CMT shall fill in.
Volunteer or Paid Ministry Workers
- Shall complete a “Ministry Worker Application”, prior to consideration before working within our ministry programs. The 2-page application will consist of an information page, reference check form & background clearance check form.
- Upon acceptance of the application and background clearance, the volunteer or paid ministry worker must attend a training workshop and sign a “Worker Certification Form” before ministering to children, youth, and disabled adults. **If indicated by reference and/or background check that a candidate might pose a threat to children, youth, and disabled adults, or have a prior history of physical or sexual abuse directed against another person will be removed from consideration for a ministry position with children, youth, and disabled adults.
- Will need to be a part of our congregation for at least six months before being permitted to work with children, youth, and disabled adults; with the exception of those hired for such purpose.
- Who are under 18 years of age, are permitted to assist a certified adult.
- Must be at least 14 years of age.
- Once a year, all groups ministering to children, youth or disabled adults will emphasize child sexual abuse concerns during training sessions for their volunteer or paid ministry workers.
- The training will include a review of these guidelines.
- Attendance will be recorded and kept on file with a summary of the training event.
- The door to the nursery must have a window to ensure the safety of all people located inside.
- All volunteer or paid ministry workers, as well as infants and toddlers, must be signed in and out of the nursery.
- The nursery changing table shall be in plain sight.
Work Restrictions/General Guidelines
- All doors to classrooms must have a window to ensure the safety of all people located inside the room.
- All volunteer or paid ministry workers, as well as children, youth, and disabled adults must be signed in when participating in a children, youth, and/or disabled adult targeted activity.
- Two Volunteer or paid ministry workers are preferred at any function and in each classroom, vehicle or other enclosed areas during all children and youth activities.
- When transporting a child/youth/disabled adult to or from an activity; notify parent, guardian or another adult of departure and approximate arrival times.
- When riding alone with children, youth, and disabled adults:
- Sitting close to each other should be avoided.
- If stopped at night, turn on the inside vehicle light.
- Record Departure and arrival times.
- An appointed volunteer or paid ministry worker will randomly check all areas where minors are present during ALL ministry activities.
- When children, youth, and disabled adults ask for a private meeting, two volunteers or paid ministry workers shall be present.
- Signed permission slips from parents/guardians must be secured for all day or overnight events and events held on or off church grounds.
- For children age 6 to 10, at least one adult female should escort girls to the restroom, and one adult male should escort boys to the restroom. The adult should check to make sure that facility is safe and then wait outside the restroom for the children. The presence of a second adult escort is also recommended – perhaps a premises monitor could provide this additional accountability.
- Children age 5 or younger (boys and girls) should be assisted as needed in the restroom by an adult female.
- Never touch a person’s private areas except when necessary, as in the case of changing a diaper.
- Volunteer or Paid Ministry Worker should avoid the appearance of impropriety – such as sitting older children on their lap, kissing or embracing others, etc.
- Volunteer or Paid Ministry Worker are to release children in their care only to parents, guardians, or persons specifically authorized to pick up the child.
Abuse or Related Injury
- The volunteer or paid ministry worker who becomes aware of any abuse or related injury occurring during a church activity (on or off site) must immediately inform their activity coordinator.
- The parent or guardian must be immediately informed that possible abuse or related injury has occurred.
- The activity coordinator must fill out a Notice of Injury Form and report to the Safe Place Committee. Within 24 hours the Safe Place Committee will gather information and must decide whether or not to report the incident to the authorities.
- If the committee decides not to implement further action, a written summary of the incident will be kept on file.
- If the committee decides to take further action, the Pastor and/or moderator will initiate the follow “Response Phase”
- Call “ChildLine” at 1-800-932-0313 and report suspicious abuse or related injury.
- Inform the church attorney of the investigation.
- Inform the insurance carrier of the investigation.
- Inform the MCT Chairperson of the investigation.
- Treat all involved with dignity and respect.
- Keep all names and procedures confidential.
- Volunteer or paid ministry workers who are subject of an investigation will be immediately removed from their positions pending completion of the investigation.
- The Pastor and Moderator will work together to prepare statements for the media.
Changes and Exceptions
Any changes or exceptions to these guidelines must have written approval from the Safe Place Committee.
Revision of Policy and Procedures
The Safe Place Committee will meet annually to review these guidelines and the procedures established within it. If needed, changes shall be submitted to the MCT and then the church council for review & approval. When changes are made, volunteer or paid ministry workers shall be informed of the changes.