CHILD SAFE POLICY
General Purpose Statement
The Church of Christ in Porter (hereafter referred to as Porter Church of Christ) seeks to provide a safe and secure environment for the children who participate in our programs and activities. By implementing the below practices, our goal is to protect the children of Porter Church of Christ from incidents of misconduct or inappropriate behavior while also protecting our staff and volunteers (workers) from false accusations.
For purposes of this policy, the terms “child” or “children” include all persons under the age of eighteen (18) years. The term “worker” includes both paid and unpaid persons who work with children. The term “volunteer” means anyone involved in a day care or school, Bible School, in overnight activities involving minors, in counseling of minors, or in one-on-one mentoring of minors.
Selection of Workers
All persons who desire to work with the children participating in our programs and activities will be screened. This screening includes the following:
Six Month Rule: No person will be considered for any volunteer position involving contact with minors until she/he has been involved with Porter Church of Christ for a minimum of six (6) months. This time of interaction between our leadership and the applicant allows for better evaluation and suitability of the applicant for working with children. Exceptions may be allowed (to be determined by unanimous Shepherd support) with a more extensive back ground check or relationships with current church leaders.
Written Application: All persons seeking to work with children must complete and sign a written application in a form to be supplied by us. The application will request basic information from the applicant and will inquire into previous experience with children, previous church affiliation, reference and employment information, as well as disclosure of any previous criminal convictions. The application form will be maintained in confidence on file at the Porter Church of Christ.
Personal Interview; Upon completion of the application, a face-to-face interview may be scheduled with the applicant to discuss his/her suitability for the position.
Reference Checks; Before an applicant is permitted to work with children, at least two of the applicants’ references will be checked. These references should be of an institutional nature as opposed to personal or family references, preferably from organizations where the applicant has worked with children in the past. Documentation of the reference checks will be maintained in confidence on file at Porter Church of Christ.
Criminal Background Check: A national criminal background check is required for all employees (regardless of position) and “volunteers” as defined above. Before a background check is run, prospective workers will be asked to sign an authorization form allowing the Porter Church of Christ to run the check. If an individual declines to sign the authorization form, s/he will be unable to work with children. A disqualifying offense that will keep an individual from working with children will be determined by the Shepherds on a case-by-case basis in light of all the surrounding circumstances. Generally, convictions for an offense involving children and/or for offenses involving violence, dishonesty, illegal substances, indecency and any conduct contrary to our mission will preclude someone from being permitted to work with children. Failure to disclose a criminal conviction on the application form may also be a disqualifying event. The background check authorization form and results will be maintained in confidence on file at the Porter Church of Christ
Two Adult Rule
It is our goal that a minimum of two unrelated adult workers will be in attendance at all times when children are being supervised during our programs and activities. Some youth classes may have only one adult teacher in attendance during the class session; in these instances, doors to the classroom should remain open We do not allow minors to be alone with one adult on our premises or in any sponsored activity
Responding to Allegations of Child Abuse
For purposes of this policy, “child abuse” is any action (or lack of action) that endangers or harms a child’s physical, psychological or emotional health and development. Child abuse occurs in different ways and includes the following:
Physical abuse – any physical injury to a child that is not accidental, such as beating, shaking, burns, and biting.
Emotional abuse – emotional injury when the child is not nurtured or provided with love and security, such as an environment of constant criticism, belittling and persistent teasing.
Sexual abuse – any sexual activity between a child and an adult or between a child and another child at least four years older than the victim, including activities such as fondling, exhibitionism, intercourse, incest, and pornography.
Neglect – depriving a child of his or her essential needs, such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care.
Our Volunteers may have the opportunity to become aware of abuse or neglect of the children under our care. In the event that an individual involved in the care of children at Porter Church of Christ becomes aware of suspected abuse or neglect of a child under his/her care, this should be reported immediately to the Shepherd working with Education or lead minister for further action, including reporting to authorities as may be mandated by state law.
In the event that an incident of abuse or neglect is alleged to have occurred at Porter Church of Christ or during our sponsored programs or activities, the following procedure shall be followed:
The parent or guardian of the child will be notified.
The worker or church member alleged to be the perpetrator of the abuse or misconduct will immediately be asked to meet with the Elders or the Minister and comply with their guidance. He or she should be instructed to have no contact with the victim or with witnesses and leave the premises if necessary.
All allegations of abuse shall be reported to the civil authorities, and Porter Church of Christ will comply with the state’s requirements regarding mandatory reporting of abuse as the law then exists. Porter Church of Christ will fully cooperate with the investigation of the incident by civil authorities.
The insurance company will be notified, and Porter Church of Christ will complete an incident report. Any documents received relating to the incident and/or allegations will immediately be forwarded to the insurance company.
Porter Church of Christ will designate a spokesperson to the media concerning incidents of abuse or neglect. The advice of legal counsel will be sought before responding to media inquiries or releasing information about the situation to the congregation. All other representatives of the organization should refrain from speaking to the media.
A pastoral visit will be arranged for those who desire it. This should be for the purpose of providing pastoral support during the time of crisis and not for the purpose of investigating the incident or influencing the investigation.
Any person who is found guilty of the alleged abuse or misconduct will be removed from their position working with children or youth.
We recognize that there may be times when it is necessary or desirable for babysitters (paid or volunteer) who are themselves under age 18 to assist in caring for children during programs or activities. The following guidelines apply to teenage workers:
Must be at least age 12.
Must be under the supervision of an adult and must never be left alone with children.
It is the policy of Porter Church of Christ not to administer either prescription or non-prescription medications to the children under our care. Medications should be administered by a parent at home.
Exceptions to the medications policy may be granted to parents of children with potentially life-threatening conditions (such as asthma or severe allergic reactions). Parents of such children should address their situation with Ministry Leader of Children’s ministries and the child’s Sunday school teacher to develop a plan of action.
Exceptions will also be made to overnight trips. All medicines should be turned into the sponsor of the event to be administered by the sponsor or another adult as designated by the sponsor.
It is the policy of Porter Church of Christ not to administer corporal punishment, even if parents have suggested or given permission for it. There should be no spanking, grabbing, hitting, or other physical discipline of children. Workers should consult with the parent(s) or guardian of any child if there is a behavior issue. If the problem persist assistance can be requested from one of the Shepherds or Ministers.
For the protection of all, workers should never be alone with a child in a bathroom with the door closed and never be in a closed bathroom stall with a child. Parents are strongly encouraged to have their children visit the bathroom prior to each class.
Accidental Injuries to Children
In the event that a child or youth is injured while under our care, the following steps should be followed:
For minor injuries, scrapes, and bruises, workers will provide First Aid (Band-Aids, etc.) as appropriate and will notify the child’s parent or guardian of the injury at the time the child is picked up from our care.
For injuries requiring medical treatment beyond simple First Aid, the parent and/or guardian will immediately be summoned in addition to the minister or one of the elders. If warranted by circumstances, an ambulance will be called.
Once the child has received appropriate medical attention, an incident report will be completed in the case of injuries requiring treatment by a medical professional.
Porter Church of Christ will provide training on this child protection policy to all new and current (at implementation) childcare workers and will strive to provide opportunities for additional training classes or events on an annual basis. All workers are required to attend these training events.