Policy and Guidelines of Life Park Christian Fellowship To Ensure the Safety and Well-being of our Children
Policy #1: Ongoing Supervision of the Child Safety Program
The CMT upon recommendation from the Sr. Pastor will appoint one person to supervise the child safety program. This program shall govern all church activities that involve custody of children and teens less than 18 years of age.
1.1 Annual Review of Safety Program
Each ministry leader will review compliance with safety policies and potential risks annually in a brief written report that will be given to the person responsible for the child safety program. The reports should include:
A listing of any new programs or program changes and the additional risks these changes and the additional risks these programs may incur.
A brief summary of policy violations and the program leader’s response to these violations. Any patterns of violations that suggest policy changes are needed should be identified.
The supervisor will summarize the reports received from program leaders and submit an overall report annually to the Church Management Team.
1.2 Waiver of Policies
Church policies may be waived occasionally for exceptional circumstances. The goal of Life Park Christian Fellowship is to promote safety while maintaining practical flexibility in children’s and youth ministry. Waiving of KidSafe Policies will only be authorized by the CMT.
1.3 Modification of Policies
Changes in these policies must be approved by the CMT. These policies may be modified or withdrawn by Life Park Christian Fellowship at any time. These policies are not intended to create an implied or express contract with any person. They are not intended to create a legally enforceable or binding promise or representation.
1.4 Activities covered By These Policies
All activities of Life Park Christian Fellowship that require church workers acting within the scope of their duties to have custody of persons less that 18 years of age shall follow these policies.
Life Park Christian Fellowship interprets the above guideline to mean that the following activities for the church as of this date, April of 2000 must observe these policies: Nursery, preschool, elementary and all associated children’s ministry activities, youth ministry, including middle school and High School, etc.
This policy does not apply to the following programs: any para-church or other groups or organizations not affiliated directly under the Church Management Team of Life Park Christian Fellowship.
Policy #2 Operating policies for all Children’s and Youth Ministries
2.1 Statement of Purpose
As a church, we believe that the spiritual, emotional, and physical well being of children is vital. This policy is intended to ensure that church activities involving children are consistent with the teachings and example of out Lord Jesus Christ and with the Christian tradition of nurturing vulnerable children.
The primary purpose of this policy is to promote the safety and well being of children and youth by providing clear instructions about the operation of children’s and youth ministries at Life Park Christian Fellowship. The leaders of Life Park Christian Fellowship sincerely request the cooperation of the adults in our church who must abide by the stringent guidelines of this policy.
Child and Youth safety take priority – The greatest priority of Life Park Christian Fellowship children’s and youth programs is to help kids through the Gospel and ministry of Jesus Christ. It is obvious that any sexual exploitation, abuse, or endangerment directly contradicts this priority and the values of Life Park Christian Fellowship.
Workers and supervisors who oversee youth workers must keep this priority in mind: adults do not have a right to serve as workers. Adults merely have an opportunity to serve when selected by the church. This means that workers should err on the side of caution as they make subjective decisions involving the w3ll-being of children and youth.
A Higher Standard – As ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we must strive to be worthy of very high standard of trust. For this reason, every worker at Life Park Christian Fellowship must avoid even the appearance of inappropriate behavior. All workers must diligently avoid any conduct that appears wrong to a reasonable observer, even if no actual misconduct takes place.
Policy Standards and General Christian Moral Standards- Workers in children’s and youth ministry are expected to observe these policies and guidelines as well as the other Christian standards of moral behavior.
2.2 Supervision of Children’s and Youth Ministry Workers
Adequate Supervision of Youth Workers – Church staff and volunteers who supervise youth enforcement of these policies. Violations of these policies are grounds for immediate dismissal, disciplinary action, or re-assignment from youth work for both volunteers and staff, in the discretion of the CMT. Supervisors and all youth workers who suspect any unhealthy or abusive activities must discuss their suspicions promptly with the Children’s Minister, Youth Minister or Senior Pastor.
Goals For Worker To Child Ratios – Life Park Christian Fellowship has a goal of maintaining the following rations of ministry workers to children whenever feasible. These ratios are goals. The church recognizes that in some circumstances achieving these ratios may not be feasible, such as an unexpected number of children showing up for an event.
2.3 Touching Policy
We live in an age where child abuse is a reality in our society. The church should deal with this issue as a good shepherd by taking steps to protect the children in our care. Life Park Christian Fellowship has implemented a touching policy that will safeguard our children while promoting a positive nurturing environment for ministry to them. The guidelines below are to be carefully followed by anyone working with children and youth.
Hugging, kisses and other forms of appropriate physical affection between workers and children are important for a child’s development and are generally suitable in our church setting.
Physical affection should be appropriate to the age of the child or youth. (For example, it is generally appropriate for a four-year-old to sit in a nursery worker’s lap and give a kiss on the cheek, but it is not appropriate for a teenager and youth leader to behave this way.)
Touching should be initiated by the child or youth. It should be a response to the child’s need for comforting, encouragement, or affection. It should not be based upon the adult’s emotional need.
Ideally, touching and affection should only be given when in the presence of other children’s ministry or youth workers. It is much less likely that touches will be inappropriate or misconstrued as such when two adult workers are present and the touching is open to observation. This is especially important when diapering a baby or helping a young child change clothes or use the restroom.
Touching behavior should not give even the appearance of wrongdoing. As ministry workers our behavior must foster trust at all times; it should be above reproach.
A child’s preference not to be touched should be respected. Do not force affection upon a reluctant child.
Church workers are responsible to protect children under t5heir supervision from inappropriate touching by others.
Church workers must promptly discuss inappropriate touching or other questionable behavior by other workers with their ministry leader, staff, member, or pastor.
Policy #3: Worker Selection and Supervision
The following guidelines will be used as Life Park Christian Fellowship reviews applicants for positions in children’s or youth ministry:
3.1 Minimum Age
All workers must be 18 years of age or older. Younger persons may assist adult, but they may not take the place of adult workers.
3.2 Confidential interviews
All applicants must be interviewed for suitability for the work they desire to do. Interviews will be conducted by the leader of the program in which the applicant will work, or by other persons designated by the program leader. A team of interviewers may be used. Church policy and guidelines should be discussed during the interview.
3.3 Six Month Rule
Applicants must have been a member of Life Park Christian Fellowship or a regular attendee of the church for at least six months. This time of interaction between ministry leaders and the applicant allows leaders to better evaluate the suitability of an applicant for youth work. In some situations this rule is not feasible and may be waived on basis of probation. If the six-month rule is waived, program leaders may take additional steps to screen the applicant at their own discretion.
3.4 Application Forms
Applicants must complete and sign an application and the related waivers giving permission to check references and background information.
3.5 Survivors of Child Abuse
Any applicant who is a survivor of childhood sexual or physical abuse needs the love and acceptance of the Life Church family. A person’s experience with abuse and their recovery process may be pertinent to their suitability as youth and children’s ministry workers. Applicants who are survivors of abuse should discuss this in confidence with the person who conducts the confidential interview. If an applicant is uncomfortable doing so, he/she may have the interview conducted by a pastor.
When evaluating candidates, the following factors will be considered if an applicant is a survivor of child abuse:
Whether the applicant has previously committed an act of child abuse or molestation (anyone who has maltreated children may not serve in children’s or youth ministry);
The extent of professional counseling the applicant has received;
The opinion of references especially professional counselors who have served the applicant;
The opinion of leaders in other churches or youth organizations in which the applicant has been involved;
How closely the church is able to supervise and monitor the position for which the applicant is applying.
3.6 Criminal Background Check
Required for primary care workers position’s. Optional for secondary worker applicants at the option of the leader of the program in which they will work.
Church leaders will check at least two references for each primary worker. The references will be done by phone, mail or in person. Whenever possible, check three references and they should include: one person who has known the applicant well for an extended period of time, a former supervisor, and a member of the applicant’s immediate family. For applicants for compensated positions, additional former supervisors may be checked. The Children’s and Youth Worker’s Reference form will be filled out by the person conducting the phone reference check.
3.8 Auto Safety
Persons who drive vehicles for conducting church business or transporting children on a regular basis must complete an Auto Safety form. This rule is at the discretion of the appropriate ministry leader. It is not necessary for people who will not transport youth.
3.9 First Aid Training
Church employees who supervise young people must maintain current certification in basic first aid and basic CPR. The church will pay expenses for this training. New employees must get this certification with in 90 days of the start of their employment. Nursery workers and others serving young children may also want training in infant and toddler CPR. Other workers are encouraged, but not required to get training if they frequently accompany kids on adventure activities: water sports, camping, home-building, mission trips, etc.
3.10 Signatures on Guidelines
All applicants must agree by signature on their application that they understand the KidSafe policies and guidelines and that they agree to abide by them.
3.11 Confidentiality of Information
The church will keep confidential all information received in the applicant selection process. Selection information will be marked as such and stored with limited access afforded only to church staff and others with a need to know.
3.12 Delays in Receiving Information
While the church is waiting for background information and references, applicants may begin working in contact with children. During this time, the applicant should only do closely supervised work. Failure to receive satisfactory responses in a timely manner may result in dismissal or withdrawal or the offer to work with the youth or children’s ministry program.
3.13 Classification of Workers According to Their Duties
In order to screen workers appropriately to their responsibilities, Life Church will categorize workers into two categories: primary and secondary. Please note that the terms primary and secondary do not refer to the ages of the children served, but rather to the relative levels of responsibility and risk.
Primary Workers- All paid staff and employees in roles with greater responsibility or risk should be classified as primary workers and should meet the primary screening standards. Primary workers have greater interaction with and access to children, and more opportunity to harm them, so churches must take extra care in their screening.
Secondary Workers- secondary workers are people who occasionally interact with minors and/or do so in less risky circumstances. For example, a volunteer who sees children only in a group setting, on church premises, and with a ministry leader present may be classified as a secondary worker. This category may include parents of participants who supervise activities.