How can we help?
Children’s and Youth Ministries Policy Template
Document includes sample policies for volunteers and employees working with children and youth.
Children’s and Youth Ministries Policy
a. In order to provide a wholesome, highly reputable, and spirit-filled learning environment at ______________________________________, the Board of Administration has adopted the following policy for working with minors.
b. Children for the purposes of this policy are defined as all persons aged 17 or younger AND all 18 year olds who remain wards of the state through systems such as foster care.
c. As a church we recognize that all children are important to God; fearfully and wonderfully made by him (Psalm 139:14), and welcomed by Jesus (Mark 10:13-16). Our children thus deserve a safe and protective learning environment, and _______________________________ will take every opportunity and measure to insure the safety of our children. _______________________________ leadership is committed to rigorous oversight of this policy and encourages all leaders and workers who serve and teach our children to follow the Bible’s admonition to “always conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.” (Phil. 1:27)
2. Key Policies
Central to this policy are the following non-negotiables:
a. All children’s and youth workers will be screened and approved by the Children’s / Youth Director before beginning any work or ministry with children and youth.
b. Adult workers will observe the “rule of three.” This requires that an adult is never alone with children or youth without a second adult being present. Exceptions to this rule must be approved in advance by the Children’s / Youth Ministry Leader or Lead Pastor in accordance with Paragraph 8 or conform to paragraph 4d.
c. The church will host an annual child protection training, at which all children’s and youth workers are expected to attend.
d. Random, unannounced checks will be conducted by church and ministry leaders of all activities, especially during activities at remote locations.
e. All adult workers shall immediately report any behavior they observe that is considered, in their judgment, to be abusive or inappropriate to the Children’s / Youth Director and the Lead Pastor. The respective worker should prepare a written report of his or her observation within 24 hours of the alleged incident and provide it to the Executive Pastor.
f. Adults who have been convicted of either sexual and/or physical abuse related crimes will not work with or participate in any church-sponsored activity or program especially designed for children / youth.
g. All workers will conduct themselves in a manner in conformity with chapter 3 of the Book of Discipline of the FMC-USA.
3. Worker Selection and Screening
a. Primary screening is required for all employees of _______________________________, and all volunteers who work in ministries that focus on children and youth. This means that the “Application and Screening Form” found in Appendix B of this policy, which includes consent to a background check, and details for 3 references, must be completed in full, signed, verified, and submitted and before beginning work.
b. Background checks will be conducted on all workers at the time of their screening, and once every two years thereafter. In addition, if the church knows or has reason to believe that an employee or volunteer has a criminal conviction that was not previously disclosed to us, that individual will also be requested to consent to a background check(s) as described above, or the church may terminate the employee or volunteer. _______________________________ specifically reserves any and all rights to conduct criminal background checks regarding applicants, employees, or volunteers without the consent of such individuals, as permitted by law.
c. All reference interviews will be recorded using the “Reference Check Form for Work with Minors” form found in Appendix C of this policy.
d. Completed screening and reference forms will be stored securely (i.e. in a locked cabinet) in the church office to protect the sensitive information contained within.
e. Whenever possible six months minimum involvement with _______________________________ is preferred before an applicant will be considered for work with the children or youth.
f. All employees of _______________________________, and all children’s or youth volunteers will receive a copy of this policy and agree to adhere to it (Appendix A)
g. All children’s workers must have finished the screening procedure and be approved by the Children’s or Youth Ministry Leaders prior to being asked to work.
h. The Children’s or Youth Ministry Leaders will be the final approval authority for all children and youth workers in their respective ministries.
4. Worker Supervision
a. Routine children’s activities will be conducted in assigned locations with normal leadership in attendance. Random, unannounced visits to classrooms and/or remote areas should be performed by activity leadership during the activity.
b. Changes in meeting place must be arranged with the respective ministry coordinator or other person responsible for the activity, prior to relocating.
c. All children and youth ministry activities shall use a team approach where there are always two adults working together. One adult must be at least 21 years old.
d. Exceptions to the team approach may be allowed in low risk situations but additional supervisory care must be taken. When class size requires one teacher or leader to work with children in a room with no visual access (window in interior door or wall), the door to the classroom should be left fully open.
e. When a small child needs a diaper changed or help going to the bathroom, this should be done by an approved nursery worker or the child’s parent.
f. Non-nursery age children needing special assistance with clothing adjustments or help in the bathroom should ideally be assisted by two adults, of the same sex whenever possible. If only one adult is available to provide assistance, and if the same child needs assistance from time to time, a different adult should provide the assistance next time.
g. Parents should be informed where their children and youth are, and in whose care they will be. There must not be last minute changes in plans that would cause the children to be someplace or do something that their parents do not expect.
5. Emergency Scenario Safety
a. Regular and routine children’s and youth ministries (i.e. those that meet every week) will maintain a record of who is present. Infrequent/one-off events held for children and teens specifically will record the names of those in attendance at the start of the event by some means, either informally, or through more formal procedures such as event permission slips.
b. The church will ensure that evacuation drills are done at least once per year to ensure leaders and children know what to do in the event of an emergency, and are familiar with safety equipment (such as evacuation ladders).
c. Children’s and youth leaders are not to provide any emergency care for which they are not suitably qualified.
6. Special Situations
a. Children without accompanying parents or guardians
i. We acknowledge that due to the context of ______________________________ , we have a number of children taking part in our regular ministries who walk to and from the church by themselves, and whose parents have little association with ______________________________.
ii. In these situations, even for regular weekly ministry, _______________________________ will attempt, as far as it is able, to obtain written permission from the parents or guardians of the children regarding:
1. Permission for children to leave _______________________________activities without an approved adult collecting them (Appendix D)
2. A Liability Waiver and Consent for Emergency Medical Care (Appendix E)
b. Overnight Lock-ins
i. Lock-ins will, as a goal, maintain a ratio of at least 1 adult leader for every 8 children
ii. Sleeping children will always be supervised by at least 2 (awake) adults, regardless of
how many are asleep.
iii. All lock-in participants are required to have a signed Liability Waiver and
Consent for Emergency Medical Care (Appendix E) on file with the church.
c. Off-site events and trips
i. Official off-site trips require permission from the Lead Pastor.
ii. Off-site trips will, as a goal, maintain a ratio of at least 1 adult to every 6 children.
iii. All participants in an off-site trip are required to have a signed Liability Waiver.
and Consent for Emergency Medical Care (Appendix E) on file with the church.
iv. All off-site trips should, as a goal, have at least 1 CPR/AED trained leader.
7. Reporting Obligations
a. Anyone who observes inappropriate behavior of children’s or youth workers must immediately
inform the Children’s or Youth Ministry Leader and the Lead Pastor of their observation. A written
report must be prepared and submitted to the Children’s or Youth Ministry Leader within 24 hoursof the alleged incident.
b. The Children’s or Youth Ministry Leader will document the alleged incident in a confidential file
and consult with the Lead Pastor as soon as possible to determine a course of action.
8. Response to Allegations
a. When an allegation is made it is important to gather facts and be non-judgmental. Collect as
much information as possible about who, when, where, how, etc.
b. The Board of Administration and Lead Pastor must be notified immediately and a special Board
meeting called for the purpose of determining how best to respond, with highest priority given to
protecting anyone allegedly abused while also accurately uncovering facts. . When the
alleged incident report is deemed to be credible, the church’s legal counsel must be contacted
within 48 hours.
c. The person accused of inappropriate behavior shall be immediately removed from all children
and youth interaction or responsibilities until the facts of the situation are uncovered and
appropriate responses made.
d. The Lead Pastor will meet with the worker who was accused of inappropriate behavior to
determine the facts of the matter.
e. Resolution will follow in accordance with the extent of the offense. Documentation of all actions
and discussions will be required, and will be kept confidential among the fewest people
necessary to resolve the matter. In cases where the law requires reporting to legal authorities, a
report will be filed. At that juncture, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.