Before you throw a stone at me for this Title, please allow me the license to explain.
I grew up in a strong, conservative, denominational Church structure. In our Churches we never had a nursery or a Children’s Church. Children and babies attended the main service in the Sanctuary.
In the past few years, Church structure has evolved with the intentions of serving the needs of the whole family rather than the needs of adults. Therefore, Church Nurseries and Children’s Church became the norm for most Church congregations. Both of these have their upside and downside. The upside is that it removes seeming distractions from the main Church service which allows the adults, especially those who do not have a relationship with Christ, to be able to focus on what the Holy Spirit desires.
However, as good as the intentions are for these two ministries, there are tremendous liability issues that we must address.
1. Background Checks are Mandatory
Children are one of our most valuable assets and they are very vulnerable. In their vulnerability, children often have difficulty explaining incidents that happen to them. To protect their innocence Churches must complete detailed Background Checks on any individuals prior to allowing them access to any children and babies.
Do Not Allow ANYONE of questionable character to serve in any Children’s Ministry!
2. NO ONE Will Care for Your Children, Like You
Even those who are most diligent will have challenges due to the child/teacher ratios. These ratios should be at least 5-to-1 for Children’s Church and 4-to-1 for Nursery babies and young children who require extra attention. Parents should understand that no Children’s Church or Nursery can give their children the attention they provide them. Most Churches operate these two ministries with unrealistic child/adult ratios and therefore are unable to observe everything that may happen while the child is in Nursery or Children’s Church.
3. Liability is High
Because children are involved, the liability is extremely high. If a child gets hurt, parents usually do not blame the child – they blame the caregiver. Case in point – I was acquainted with a church in Missouri that sponsored a hayride for the children. One child was particularly rambunctious and had attempted to climb the sides of the trailer. The caregivers were diligent and kept the child in check until they pulled into the Church parking lot at the completion of the ride. The caregiver turned her back for a moment to get her belongings and the child scurried up the side, fell onto the asphalt and was ran over by the trailer. The child’s parents were charter members of the church, but took the Church to court and won a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
4. Electronic Check-in Is a Must
Electronic check-in is the only viable method to check children in and out of the nursery or Children’s Church. Churches that do not use electronic check-in are placing themselves at risk. The workers should always know how many children are in the room, who are allowed to check out the child, and who has or is visiting the room.
Your good intentions may be good, but if proper parameters are not in place, you are a candidate for a lawsuit. This why you and your Church should connect with Chitwood and Chitwood. No one is better at protecting Churches and their interests, than we are. We are the best. Our Manual, “Child Protection Policy” is the premier authority on Church nurseries and Children’s Church. You need it in your Church Library. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org as to how to obtain this valuable resource or visit www.cmtc.org and register for one of our Clergy and Church conferences. Your children deserve the best.