When you’re ready to protect children and those who serve them in your ministry, MinistrySafe equips you with the resources to create a child safety system.
MinistrySafe membership allows you to effectively implement the 5-Part Safety System, including Sexual Abuse Awareness Training, the Skillful Screening Process, Policies and Procedures, Background Checks and Monitoring and Oversight.
Step-by-Step Guide to Build Your Child Safety System
Create a Child Safety Committee
The purpose of the safety committee is to evaluate ‘where we are’ and make recommendations to church leadership concerning ‘where we need to be’. Though various risks exist in ministry to children, this committee should first address the risk of child sexual abuse.
Before evaluating existing programming, each member of the Safety Committee should view MinistrySafe’s Sexual Abuse Awareness Training. To access this training, log in to your church’s MinistrySafe control panel and generate training links to each member of the Committee. Sexual Abuse Awareness Training provides critical information concerning child sexual abuse to those tasked with the responsibility of creating a church safety system. Put differently, ‘you cannot reduce a risk you do not understand’. This training identifies common misconceptions and errors, followed by current information regarding abuser characteristics, ‘the grooming process’ (the process by which an abuser chooses and prepares a child for sexual abuse), common grooming behaviors, responding to an allegation, reporting responsibilities and other relevant topics.
After all Safety Committee members have completed Sexual Abuse Awareness Training, committee members should view MinistrySafe’s free seven-part tutorial videos (above) illustrating the creation of an effective safety system.
Gather Existing Policies & Procedures
Each program or group of programs should have Policies & Procedures related to child protection. Gather all existing Policies & Procedures.
Download Sample Policies
Log in to your MinistrySafe control panel and click on ‘Resources’. From this list, download the relevant Policies & Procedures sample form(s) as needed. MinistrySafe provides sample Policies & Procedures forms for youth ministry, children’s ministry, camp, school, daycare center and youth sports.
Compare Existing Policies to MinistrySafe Sample Forms
After viewing the free tutorial videos on policy creation, Safety Committee members should compare existing policies to MinistrySafe sample forms for all programs providing services to children or youth. If church leadership chooses to continue use of existing policy documents and forms, use the MinistrySafe sample forms to ensure that existing policy addresses all of the safety elements included in the sample forms. Otherwise, use the MinistrySafe sample forms as a template, customizing to your programming needs by following the instructions and color-coded prompts. MinistrySafe sample forms dovetail with MinistrySafe’s Skillful Screening process and online training.
Evaluate Existing Screening System
Any existing screening systems utilized by the church should be identified. Gather all application, reference and interview forms used in the hiring/screening process for employees and volunteers. If the screening process for volunteers differs from that for employees, make note of the differences.
Download Sample Screening Forms
Log in to your MinistrySafe control panel and click on ‘Resources’. Follow the links to screening sample forms and download the documents.
Compare Existing Screening Forms to MinistrySafe Sample Forms
After viewing the tutorial video segments on screening, Safety Committee members should compare the church’s existing screening forms to MinistrySafe sample forms. If church leadership elect to use existing screening forms, use the MinistrySafe samples to ensure that existing screening forms include questions designed to elicit high-risk responses from applicant.**
An effective screening system should include the use of an application with signed release, reference checks and an interview for staff members AND volunteers (though employment and volunteer applications may differ). Finalize forms to be used.
** State laws vary concerning what an employer can ask a prospective employee; seek legal counsel to ensure that final documents comply with state law in your region.
Plan for Criminal Background Checks
Each church should create a plan for criminal background checks that includes a check on employees and volunteers, and is refreshed every two or three years, at a minimum. For many churches, a criminal background check is the only screening element utilized.
Because less than 10% of sexual predators will encounter the criminal justice system, a criminal background check ALONE is an insufficient screening process.
Select a Safety System Administrator
The foundation of MinistrySafe’s Safety System is Sexual Abuse Awareness Training. Because this training is available online it can be easily delivered and renewed, with training results tracked. After a church safety system is created, the Safety Committee should identify an individual within the church who will act as the Safety System Administrator (SSA).
Submit a Plan to Leadership
In many churches, a Committee is appointed to study a problem or issue and make recommendations to a leadership group: the Board of Elders, Deacons or Trustees. The Safety Committee should propose a church safety system to leadership for approval. The proposed safety system plan should include proposed Policies & Procedures for each program, a proposed Screening Process (including forms), a proposed Criminal Background Check plan, and a recommendation for Sexual Abuse Awareness Training for all staff members and volunteers.
Implement the Safety System
Change is seldom easy—even the introduction of a system designed to protect children. The effectiveness of the safety system depends on leadership endorsing and embracing the system. Handouts, pulpit announcements and other ‘marketing efforts’ are valuable.
Train Staff Members and Volunteers
The SSA will access the MinistrySafe Control Panel and create departments, entering names of all staff members and volunteers. Volunteer trainees may be limited to those volunteers involved in programs related to children or youth. Staff members and volunteers should be given instruction that training must be completed within __days (best practice—30 days). New employees or volunteers should complete training BEFORE having access to children or youth.
Monitor the Child Safety System
From a liability standpoint, the only scenario worse than no protective measures in place is protective measures that are not being utilized. Periodically, ministry leaders should review Safety System elements, including Policies and Procedures, to ensure relevance. If policies are no longer relevant to the needs of the program, they should be updated. When new programs are added, policies must be modified to address possible new risk in these programs.
MinistrySafe provides an online Control Panel that tracks all elements of the 5-Part Safety System. The Control Panel allows an administrator to monitor and track Sexual Abuse Awareness Training and Background Checks, and can be set up with multiple access points to ensure smooth transition when an administrator leaves the ministry.