Safe Church Policy

South Church Concord, United Church of Christ

27 Pleasant Street

Concord, NH 03301

 

Safe Church Policies

Developed by the Board of Christian Education

September 4, 2003

 

 

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

 

 

South Congregational Church is a wonderful community of faith that is blessed to have so many children in our midst.  We care deeply about the children and are grateful for the adults who volunteer their time to take care of, teach, and advise them.  It is because we care so much and believe that the safety of our young people cannot be left to faith alone, that the Church has adopted the following Safe Church policy for youth. 

 

The policy outlines:

 

        Standards for how we will keep our children safe in the classroom and youth groups.

        Procedures to follow if a parent needs to be located during church service.

        Procedures to follow in case of an emergency requiring evacuation of the building.

        A reporting and response process in the event of an allegation of misconduct. 

 

We believe that by having a policy that outlines requirements and standard procedures in writing, our parents, teachers, care givers and children will have a common understanding of expectations and will also have peace of mind in knowing that the Church is committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for our young people. 

 

We, the Christian Education Board, felt strongly that a workable Safe Church Policy for Youth be in place by the fall of 2003 in time for a new year of Sunday School and Youth Group.  We view this as a work in process and have developed this policy with the flexibility to respond to changing needs or circumstances.

 

 

 

CLASSROOM-CHILD CARE ROOM

SAFETY POLICY

 

 

We the Board of Christian Education (CE) understand that in our present times there is always some risk of abuse of children within our walls.  Knowing it is impossible to absolutely eliminate such abuse we seek to minimize that risk and therefore:

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

RE:  SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES

 

      All spaces where children gather must be easily visible.  Our classroom doors have window and they shall always remain free of obstruction.

 

      Generally there will be two adults present in every classroom of children.  Because of yearly budget constraints the Board has elected not to do a back-round check for every Sunday School Teacher but understand that the mere presence of another adult in the same room should prohibit any abusive behavior and at the very least will stop it.  That second person does not have to be a teacher but can be any known adult from the congregation.

 

Note: The primary adult must be 18 or older.  A secondary adult can be 16 or older.

 

      Formal registration of students, infants, and toddlers is mandatory.  All parents must complete the registration form the first day their child is in class.  Sunday School Teachers should keep accurate attendance records, which both assist Sunday School planning and can be utilized in emergency situations.

 

      The Sunday before or of Rally Day the parents must visit the Sunday School classrooms to register their child.

 

      At the end of each Sunday School class only 4th graders and up may leave the safety of the classroom to join their families.   While inconvenient, we must request parents, or an older sibling if the parent gives their written permission, come and get their 3rd grade and younger children.  Not only is this safe sense, it gets the parents down to the classrooms to see what their child is doing.

 

      All classes should be conducted in a positive, respectful and nurturing manner.  All students should feel accepted and supported in their class.  Any conduct by a student, Teacher or Aid that make any individual uncomfortable should not be permitted.  Teachers should not permit any abusive language, racial or ethnic slurs or any language that demeans any other person (whether that person is present in the class or not).  Teachers should also not permit any unwanted or inappropriate physical contact between anybody in their class.

 

      If a child becomes ill, begins ‘acting out’ or becoming abusive in any manner one of the adults in the classroom will quickly locate the parent(s).  The remaining adult should as reasonably as possible get another teacher (out classrooms have windowed doors to each other) to assist.  This is, of course, assuming reasonable measures to calm or correct the child have not worked.

 

      Our goal at South Church is to rely largely on adults to be teachers but we understand that our Congregation is blessed with many mature and devoted teenagers who enjoy teaching our children.  With that in mind, knowing these youth do are not technically old enough to be primary  (and in the case of a team secondary) teachers the Superintendent can, with the advise of clergy and the CE Board, allow ‘qualified’ older youth to become Sunday School teachers.  

 

      All Sunday School teachers need to be familiar with the location of first aid kits in the Sunday School areas.  It is recommended that at least one teacher in each room be trained in basic first aid.  Should there be a first aid emergency, the Sunday School teacher shall attend to the emergency, as best he or she is able, attempting as best as able to protect the safety of the children and themselves.  Should there be any emergency that a Sunday School teachers is not comfortable in attending to, the teacher should immediately request the assistance of other teachers.  Parents need to be notified of any injury or health issues concerning their child, immediately if necessary, or at the close of Sunday School if appropriate.

 

      All Sunday School teachers need to be familiar with the location of the telephone in the Sunday School areas and should be made aware that this telephone may be utilized for emergency purposes (911).

 

      All Sunday School teachers must be familiar with evacuation routes for their classroom.  If there is a church wide emergency which requires evacuation of the Sunday School classes, each teacher will be responsible for the evacuation of their classroom and should direct their class across Pleasant Street to the parking lot behind the Jackman Building.  Each Sunday School Teacher should bring their class attendance sheet and should use the attendance sheet to make sure that all children are accounted for.  Teachers should be check to see if any other Teachers need assistance in evacuating and should attempt to assist them if necessary.  Parents should be made aware that they should not attempt to retrieve their child in an evacuation, but should meet their child and Teacher in the parking lot behind the Jackman building to assist in taking attendance and ensuring the safety of all our children.

 

 

 

INFANT AND TODDLER ROOM

 

While South Church has hired a Coordinator to oversee the Infant and Toddler room we will need to acquire the help of parents on a continual basis.

 

Parents must sign their children in (and may require legal identification by the coordinator).

 

Parents must sign their children out at the end of worship service.

 

If a designated adult is to pick up a child it must be pre-arranged with the Room Coordinator. The Coordinator has the authority to refuse the release of any child until a parent arrives.

 

South Church endeavors to follow the Guidelines of the State of New Hampshire concerning proper Adult to child ratios.  The State of New Hampshire recommends the following:

 

Age of ChildrenNumber of ChildrenNumber of Care Givers

 

Under 36 Months1 to 61 Adult

7 to 12     1 Adult and 1 Aid

 

 

 

5THAND 6TH, JUNIOR HIGH AND SENIOR HIGH

YOUTH GROUPS  

 

 

We value our youth.  South Church, its adult advisors, parents, and staff will make every attempt to ensure youth group activities are safe, nurturing, and responsive to the needs of our children and their families. These are ages where emotional, physical, and sexual developments are hitting new stages.   The two adult rule must apply here with very little leeway.  Not all youth group meetings keep the group itself in one location, many times the group breaks into smaller activity units and hence it is nearly impossible to insure all teens are under the constant and direct supervision of two adults (advisors).  So:

 

All youth activities planned by the groups must have two adults to oversee the group.

 

At least one of the adults must be an adult Advisor.

 

Any person who is or wants to be an Adult Advisor for a youth group must undergo both a State of NH criminal back-round check along with the report from the State of New Hampshire’s Division of Child and Youth Services.   

 

If two adults are not available, there will be no activity! 

 

Because of the stringent attendance requirement for the Advisors, they must notify the Youth Group Coordinator in time enough so the Coordinator can make arrangements for enough supervision.

 

All youth group activities should be conducted in a positive, respectful and nurturing manner.  Everyone should feel accepted and supported in his or her class.  Any conduct by a child, Advisor or volunteer that makes anyone uncomfortable should not be permitted.  Advisors and volunteers should not permit any abusive language, racial or ethnic slurs or any language that demeans any other person (whether that person is present or not).  Advisors and volunteers should also not permit any unwanted or inappropriate physical contact between anybody attending the event.

 

Teens may not drive another teen to regular Youth Group meetings unless both sets of parents have notified an Advisor that this situation is permissible.

 

Teenagers may not drive to and from youth group activities not located at the Church. Only parents can get them there, only parents can pick them up.

 

At the end of youth group meetings or events advisors/adults must remain (at least 2) behind until all the teens/children have been picked up by parents or left the property.  Teens-kids cannot wait on the street for their rides home without a visible adult presence.

 

An adult may stop a child from riding with someone they feel is not qualified-capable of driving the youth group member home.  This may be due to an obviously impaired driver or another non youth group member teenager showing up without prior parental consent.

 

All Youth Groups who are not affiliated with South Church UCC but are going to be active with South Church groups or use the South Church Buildings absolutely must follow our safety guidelines while here.

 

Medical emergencies are expected to put a strain on the advisor system.  When at South Church, if a teen does not need EMS transport requires medical attention at least one advisor will safely transport the teen, with at least one other person, to the hospital.  The remaining adult/advisor will call the parents to meet them at the hospital.  The remaining advisors will remain at the Church until the teens have left.

 

Medical emergencies off of the South Church grounds (like on a Mission Trip) will require two advisors accompany the injured teen to medical help.  Generally there are always more than 4 advisors on a youth group mission trip.

 

If EMS transport is needed an advisor will follow the transport to the hospital and remain with the youth group member until parents arrive or the teen goes home or goes back to the youth group. 

 

 

 

REPORTING AND RESPONSE

 

 

As servants of God and in the Spirit of Christ we are called to react in a sense of compassion, loving concern, and support. 

New Hampshire law requires the reporting of all suspected child abuse or neglect at South Church or in the child’s home - no evidence of the abuse is needed.  All volunteers, advisors, and teachers must be aware of the standards for reporting that the State of NH has set.    Reporting is mandatory, and good faith reporting of suspicions of abuse or neglect shields the reporting person from any liability as a result. 

 

Contact:  NH Division of Children, Youth, and Family:  1-800-894-5533 or1-800-852-3388

 

Not all unwanted behaviors warrant the involvement of need of state authorities.  Nevertheless, they do require a South Church response.  Other instances of concern may include:  inappropriate language, racial or ethnic slurs or any language that demeans any other person or any unwanted or inappropriate physical contact between anybody.  

If any individual Teacher or Parent has any concern whatsoever regarding the care or treatment of a child, that person should feel the ability to approach the Sunday School Superintendent, Clergy, Staff or any member of the Board of Christian Education regarding that concern.  The information will then flow quickly, and confidentially, to a Clergy person, and President of the Church Council, and, if necessary, DCYF.  A full investigation will be undertaken, again if necessary, DCYF.  The Board of Christian Education will be involved in the investigation of the concern and the implementation of any needed remedy. 

In the case of Sexual Abuse the CE Board will call in the Merrimack Association’s Emergency Response team to help us provide pastoral and other support to all parties involved.

 

 

 

TRAINING

 

SUNDAY SCHOOL:

 

1.All Sunday School teachers will be trained on this policy at the start of each school year.  All teachers should be familiar with:

a.Standards for Teacher and student conduct in the classroom;

b.Standards for reporting of abuse, neglect or other concerns;

c.Evacuation, First Aid, and other emergency policies.

 

2.  All Sunday School Teachers must agree to adhere to these policies.

 

 

YOUTH GROUP ADVISORS:

 

3.All Youth Group Advisors must agree to undergo necessary background checks.

4.While there will be no formal training on these policies for Youth Group Advisors, all Advisors must be familiar with the policies.  In particular, all Youth Group Advisors must be familiar with the standards for youth group activities and appropriate conduct.

5.All Youth Group Advisors must agree to strictly adhere to these policies.

 

 

YOUTH GROUP VOLUNTEERS:

 

6.All Youth Group Volunteers will have these policies made available to them and will be requested to be familiar with the policies.  In particular, all Youth Group Volunteers should must be familiar with the standards for youth group activities and appropriate conduct.

7.All Youth Group Volunteers must agree to strictly adhere to these policies.

8.All Youth Group Volunteers must agree to take direction from Youth Group Advisors regarding these policies

 

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