3 Ways to Improve Safety Measures in Your Children's Ministry
You’ve probably heard the mantra, “Location, location, location” when it comes to buying or selling real estate. When it comes to children’s ministry, your mantra should be, “Safety, safety, safety.”
When a parent drops off their child, they are placing in us enormous trust. Yes, they want us to teach their children about Jesus in an engaging and transformational way, but that doesn’t matter if we don’t first ensure their children are safe. It’s our most basic obligation to our families – and an important way that we love our children.
I’m going to assume that you already have safety and security measures in place, but here are three ways you can improve what you’re already doing.
1. Keep Your First Aid Training Up to Date
You’ve probably gone through basic first aid training but, odds are, you haven’t had
to use that training. I would highly encourage you to make first aid and CPR training
at least a yearly commitment and, ideally, more frequent. Don’t go based on how
long your certification is valid – go by how long you can retain the training and be
prepared to use it (which is often a much shorter interval than the certification
Also, consider providing an opportunity for your volunteers to come in on, say, a
Saturday for first aid and CPR training. If you are able, cover the cost out of your
ministry budget to incentivize your volunteers. The more people equipped to
respond in an emergency, the better.
2. Have a "Never Alone" Policy
Never let your volunteers be alone with a child. I know that can be so hard to
enforce – depending upon the number of children and volunteers you have. But
this matters. If a child needs to use the restroom – and needs help – make sure
there are two volunteers present. If a parent is taking a particularly long time to pick
up their child, and all the others have gone, make sure you hold back at least one
volunteer so you’re not alone with a child.
This is for the protection of the child, but also for your protection and that of your
3. Don't Be Afraid to "Fire" Volunteers
I know, I know. You need volunteers. There are gaps every single weekend. It’s hard
to imagine letting anyone go.
We once had a volunteer who was incredibly faithful. He served as a small group
leader for 2nd and 3rd grade girls. He was a sweet hearted man who just connected
with the girls better than he did the boys. That, in and of itself, was not a cause for
concern. But we had a policy in our ministry about physical touch. Children were
not allowed to sit in their leader’s lap. It was for the protection of the children and
for the volunteer. This particular volunteer just refused to adhere to that policy. He
was warned several times about letting the girls sit in his lap, but nothing changed.
We eventually had to ask him to stop serving.
That may seem harsh, but we were dogged about the safety of our kids and our
volunteers. Violating a safety measure was non-negotiable, so we let him go. It was
hard. I honestly don’t believe he had any malintent – he just had a hard time telling
those sweet girls no. But the safety of the children won the day in a landslide.
Keeping your kids safe has to be your top priority. There is, of course, more to safety than these three points, but we hope they serve to better care for your children.