Cedar Grove UMC
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Reaching Out, Growing Close, Changing Lives

 

SAFE SANCTUARY POLICY FOR CEDAR GROVE UMC

A Policy for Safe Ministry with Minors

Revised Sept. 23, 2014

1. Introduction to Church Policy

Jesus said, Whoever welcomes (a) childwelcomes me. Matthew 18:5. Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to those who cannot protect themselves. In response to this call of the BaltimoreWashington Annual Conference, we commit ourselves to this policy of safety for children, youth and vulnerable adults.

2. Purpose

Our congregations purpose for establishing this policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate a commitment to create within our ministries a safe sanctuary that will foster healthy growth and development for all children, youth, and those who work with them.

3. Statement of Policy

In this policy, the word minor shall include: infants, children, and youth.

4. Recruitment, screening and hiring of employees and volunteers

·         Every volunteer working with minors shall have been active in the life of the congregation for at least three months prior to taking responsibilities in children/youth ministries.

·         Every person working with minors shall:

o   Read and acknowledge that they understand and will uphold our safe sanctuary policy

o   Complete the church questionnaire regarding sexual misconduct

·         Have a criminal background check conducted, with a review by the SPRC if that check reveals negative information. The background check shall be renewed every five years.

·         A file containing copies of these forms, checks, and acknowledgements shall be kept by the SPRC chairman, with an additional copy secured in a locked cabinet in the church office.  This file will be reviewed to confirm that all volunteers have fulfilled policy requirements. This review will occur before the annual commencement of Sunday school classes and youth group, and before periodic events (e.g., mission trips, Vacation Bible School).

·         Volunteers must be at least 18 years old. Supervisors or Lead Workers should be at least 3 years older than the oldest in the group they are supervising. Any worker under 21 years of age, volunteer or paid, that is not at least three years older than the group with which they are to work, must have another screened adult at least 25 years old who is supervising.

·         Youth helpers of at least 12 years old may participate with adult supervision.

·         The Safe Sanctuary Policy will be reviewed and acknowledged by all volunteers/staff every year.

5. Education and training for employees, volunteers and congregation

·         The church shall provide access to the written Safe Sanctuary policy and procedures to all members and friends of the congregation.

·         Members and friends of the congregation shall be informed of updates to the policy.

·         The complete written policy and procedures shall be available in the church office.

·         The Safe Sanctuary policy shall be available on the churchs web site.

6. Procedures for All Programs, Events, or Counseling Involving Children, and Youth

·         SUPERVISION OF CHILDREN No child shall be left on church property unsupervised.

·         ONE ADULT LEADER At least one trained adult leader shall be present at all times during any church sponsored program, event, or ministry that involves vulnerable persons. This leader must fulfill the requirements described in Section 4, above.

·         ROVING SUPERINTENDANT/ EXTRA HELPER/ VOLUNTEER To further supervise activities, an adult volunteer roamer shall move among classes and activity stations to oversee events.

·         OPEN DOOR COUNSELING Activities in the room must be clearly visible through an un-obscured window or an open door.

·         BATHROOM PROCEDURES If a minor requires assistance using restroom facilities, the door will be left ajar all times while the adult assists.

·         PHOTOGRAPHING CHILDREN No identifying names of children will be displayed in newsletter, website or publication without parental consent.

·         ADVANCE NOTICE TO PARENTS WITH EVENT DETAILS Parents/guardians of minors participating in church sponsored programs will be given advance notice of all expected activities for those programs. Parents/guardians shall be provided with advance notice of variations in usual schedules and activities. Parents/guardians shall be asked to sign a general permission form for planned offsite activities that are part of regular programs.

·         VEHICLE RULE Drivers transporting children or youth for any church sponsored activity must have a valid drivers license and current automobile insurance. All relevant laws regarding child safety seats and seat belts must be followed. Drivers shall agree to not drive distracted, nor when overtired or under the influence of alcohol/drugs.

·         OUTSIDE ORGANIZATIONS Sponsors of programs or events involving vulnerable people that use church property, but are not sponsored by the church, shall be asked to sign a form stating they have been advised of and provided a copy of the Safe Sanctuary policy and they are in agreement to uphold that policy. Outside or tenant organizations conducting events during church sponsored events involving children and youth must escort their guests and members while on church property and are responsible for their direct supervision.

·         APPROPRIATE DISCIPLINE Children and Youth should be made aware that appropriate behavior is expected at all church events. Gentle reminders are always necessary when dealing with children and youth. When these reminders dont work, discipline may move to the next step. In cases where behavior has to be addressed, designated church event leaders shall handle it. In NO case is physical discipline an appropriate measure. Keeping parents involved is important. They should be kept informed of their childs behavior. For serious offenses, the appropriate response may be to send the child/youth home.

·         APPROPRIATE BOUNDARIES

·         Physical boundaries are most important in dealing with children and youth. Persons working with children and youth have to understand and respect those boundaries. Obviously these boundaries change as children grow older.

·         Emotional boundaries are also important. Adult leaders must maintain appropriate boundaries in relationships with youth. It is important for those adults working with children and youth to not step outside of those lines and allow a younger person to become too attached to them. When an adult leader recognizes there may be an issue with boundaries, the issue needs to be addressed.

·         Spiritual Boundaries As we seek to lead young people in their development of faith, it is essential that we guide them and do not manipulate their emotions. This is especially true at extended youth events. Children and youth are much more susceptible to emotional manipulation at extended events. It is therefore necessary that we allow each person involved to make their own decisions without stigma, coercion, or pressure in any form. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the opportunity to follow Jesus in a lifelong journey must be presented as an invitation with no strings attached.

7. Procedures Specific to Nursery and Sunday school

·         Pre-K may not be released to a sibling less than 18 years old without express parental permission.

·         Attendance will be kept for each class and the nursery.

8. Procedures Specific to Youth Ministries

·         Attendance will be taken at the start of each youth meeting.  A parent phone number shall be requested in case of emergencies.

·         Participants in youth meetings shall be requested to sign a yearly Youth Group Covenant explaining the expectations for behavior and conduct.

·         Yearly, all Leaders of the youth group shall collect an information form requesting parent contact information and any health concerns for each participant. This information form shall be maintained and kept on hand at all youth meetings/events.

9. Facilities conforming to meet reasonable safety standards

·         Every classroom and office door shall have a window or be kept open providing a view of the interior.

·         Trustees shall regularly check facilities for safety hazards and maintain adequate liability insurance.

10. Procedures for reporting allegations of injury, harm, or abuse

The following steps will be used in responding to a reported incident during a church sponsored event and/or on church property:

1.       The volunteer, worker or leader shall immediately:

·         Ensure the privacy and safety of the alleged victim;

·         Treat the individuals involved with dignity, honor and confidentiality;

·         Remove and/or separate the accused individual from further involvement with the alleged victim and other vulnerable persons;

·         Ensure that confidentiality of all parties is maintained;

·         Notify the Pastor and/or chair of the SPRC;

·         Complete a report form for each alleged incident.

2.       Upon notification, the Pastor or the chair of the SPRC shall immediately:

·         If the pastor is accused, the SPRC chair shall contact the District Superintendent who will initiate Conference Policies for this situation.

·         Notify the parents/guardians of the alleged victim.

·         Address any needs the vulnerable person may have, including medical.

·         Notify each of the following

·         The proper authorities Police, Child Protective Services**

·         The District Superintendent

·         Insurance agent shall be notified by the Trustees following notification by SPRC

·         Keep a written record of each step taken including times and dates

·         At the Pastors discretion and with SPRC affirmation, prepare a brief, carefully worded statement to the congregation, telling the truth, but withholding the names of the alleged victim and the accused.

·         Cooperate fully with the investigation conducted by proper authorities

In responding to suspected abuse outside church events and/or church property, volunteers/leaders shall:

·         Ensure the privacy and safety of the alleged victim;

·         Ensure that confidentiality of all parties is maintained;

·         Contact appropriate authorities

·         Notify the Pastor and/or the chair of the staffparish committee

 

** Proper Authorities in Anne Arundel County are: Child Protective Services, 4104218400, 7500 Ritchie Hywy, Glen Burnie, Maryland 210611787 or call Police at 911. 

**You must make an oral and written report within 48 hours of the suspected abuse. This does not require Proof Anyone who makes a good faith report may be immune from civil liability and criminal penalty.

11. Parent/Guardian responsibility

It is the parents/guardians responsibility to deliver their minors to an adult running the church event.  Until that happens, the minor is the responsibility of the parent/guardian.  Unsupervised minors found on the church property during an event will be escorted back to their parent/guardian.  Parents/guardians should not send their minors onto church property where they are not being supervised as contained in this policy.  Minors remain the responsibility of their parent(s)/guardian(s) during events where those parent(s)/guardian(s) stay with those minors (e.g., monthly movie night).

12. Review of Policies and Procedures

These policies and procedures will be reviewed and updated by the SPRC at least once every three years.