Cedar Grove Baptist church Child protection policy

Goal


It shall be the goal of Cedar Grove Baptist Church to provide a safe environment for the physical and emotional well-being of all children participating in church activities.  The church’s goal is to inform workers and enforce policies to ensure that all children are safe and well protected while attending scheduled activities.
Future revisions to this policy may be made with the authorization of the Elders.


Definition of “children”


The term “child” or “children” shall include all persons under the age of eighteen (18) years.


Implementation


Upon passing of this policy in a business meeting the church has ninety (90) days to come into compliance with the policy.  


Selection and Screening Process


Pre-employment procedures for paid and volunteer workers


It is the goal of Cedar Grove Baptist Church (herein referred to as “The Baptist Church” or as “church”) to adequately screen the applications of persons desiring to work with children participating in all church programs.


Volunteers must be members of the church


Each volunteer who works with children must first be member or faith-care member (as outlined in Cedar Grove Baptist Church Constitution) of Cedar Grove Baptist Church.  Under certain circumstances, an Elder(s) may authorize an exception to this rule.


Minimum age


All volunteer workers must be 16 years of age or older.  Younger persons may assist adults, but may not take the place of adult workers.  The church may allow faith-care members only in positions with and under the direct supervision of an approved adult worker.  There may be positions that may not be suitable for workers aged 16-18, this issue will be addressed during the application process.  


Six-month rule


No volunteer will be allowed to work with children in any capacity until they have been an active member of the church for a minimum of six (6) months.  This time period may include the member in process time period.  The volunteer must have been a regular attendee and involved in church activities for that period of time.  This time of interaction between our leadership and the volunteer allows for better evaluation and suitability of the volunteer for working with children.
The six-month rule may be waived with the authorization of the Elder(s)s, as in the case of a new staff member.  If waived, staff and/or Elder(s)s may take additional steps to screen the applicant.


Volunteer applications


Volunteer applicants must complete and sign a Children and Youth Ministry Volunteer Worker Application.
Forms will be submitted to a staff member. The staff in charge of the division in which the applicant will work will be responsible for the interview process and reference checks. If a new volunteer needs additional confidentially they may choose to submit their application directly to an Elder.
The church keeps confidential all information received in the screening process. Such information will be stored with access afforded only to appropriate church staff or Elder(s) on a need-to-know basis. If the church learns of false, misleading or amended information on an applicant that could cause potential danger to children or liability to the church, that person will no longer be allowed to volunteer.


References


The staff member in charge of the division in which the person will work must check and document references for each applicant as deemed necessary.  References may be checked by phone, mail or in person.


Confidential interviews


All applicants to work with children must be interviewed for suitability for the work they desire to do.  The staff leader of the program in which the volunteer will work conducts the interviews.  A team of interviewers may be used.  Church policy concerning prevention and responsibility to church abuse and neglect must be discussed during the interview.


Criminal background check


A criminal background check and child abuse registry check shall be required for all children’s worker positions, both employee and volunteer workers.  No one who has been convicted of a crime involving misconduct with child(ren) will be allowed to work with children.  Completing the release form authorizes the church to conduct these checks.  Background checks will be kept confidential with access afforded only to appropriate church staff and Elder(s)s on a need-to-know basis.  
The designated church staff member will conduct criminal background checks notifying the appropriate staff and/or Elder(s) if negative report is received.

Vehicle safety


Persons who drive Cedar Grove Baptist Church owned or privately-owned vehicles for conducting church business or transporting children on a regular basis must maintain a current valid driver’s license, provide proof of insurance in such amounts as may be required by the church and comply with all other church transportation polices.


First Aid Training


It will be the goal of the church that MOST paid employees who work with children will maintain current certification in basic first aid and basic CPR (or the equivalent) as required by applicable licensing requirements or other local regulations.  The church will pay the cost of this training.  Employees will be paid for attending training.  Volunteer workers, who frequently accompany children on activities such as recreations activities, camps, retreats and mission trips or any other activity with an element of risk are encouraged, but not required to be certified in first aid and CPR.


Acknowledgement of church policies


All applicants must acknowledge that they understand the church’s policies pertaining to the protection of children and that they agree to abide by them. This requirement will be met by having the volunteer sign acknowledgement of receipt.  


Supervisory Requirements


It is the policy of the church to provide adequate supervisory control of persons working with children participating in all church programs. The following regulations shall be applicable to all volunteers having contact with children participating in church programs.


Safety of children


It is the responsibility of all persons having contact with children participating in church programs to promote the emotional and physical safety of the participants giving regard to all factors and circumstances known to them.  If in their opinion, an unsafe condition exists, such persons shall immediately take appropriate precautions under the circumstances to protect all children.  Nothing contained in any other church policy, procedure or instruction shall be construed to relieve persons having contact with children from this responsibility.


Preschool and Elementary identification system.


To reduce the possibility of kidnapping, the church will have in place an identification system so that the adult who picks up a child is authorized to do so.  The workers shall maintain the system to identify persons authorized to pick up and take responsibility for preschool and elementary children leaving a church activity.  The identification system will not be necessary for children above the fifth grade unless a parent specifically requests in writing.


Two-Adult Rule


It shall be the goal of Cedar Grove Baptist Church that a minimum of two workers will be in attendance at all times when children are being supervised during a church activity regardless of the number of participants, location or activity.  
Some Sunday school classes may have only on adult in attendance as the teacher while the class is in session.  In these instances doors to the classrooms will be remained open if there is no window in the door.  At no time should an adult ever be in a room or an enclosed area alone with a child.


Observation of children


Church activities for children should be scheduled in areas visible from adjoining areas, wherever possible by leaving the door to the room open.  Reasonable exceptions to this rule may be made by the staff or Elder in charge where seclusion is necessary for rest provided two unrelated workers are present in the room at all times.


Ratio of workers to children


It is required that a reasonable ratio of adults to children is maintained at all times involving the supervision of children.  The staff member responsible for the division, or their representative, shall be primarily responsible for setting and maintaining a reasonable ratio of workers to children giving due regard to all factors present, including, but not limited to, the number and age of the participants, the nature of the activities and the location where the activities are taking place.  If a reasonable ratio of adults to children cannot be maintained classes/childcare rooms will be merged or canceled.


Elder and staff oversight


The staff member responsible for each division shall ensure ongoing supervision of all workers.  This should include regular unannounced visits into classes and other program sites.


Children’s pickup


If a parent does not pick up a child younger than fifth grade on time, the child will be kept by their teacher’s in the children’s area where safe supervision can be continued until the parent or guardian is located.  If needed, the child(ren) can also be delivered to their parent/guardian.


Release of Claims


Prior to any activity away from the church, a Medical Permission Release Form will be necessary to be signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian.  Without the form signed and in the possession of the church, the child will not be allowed to participate in the away activity.  


Reporting and Responding to Alleged Child Abuse or Neglect


Reporting Policy


It is the policy of the church to report any incident of child abuse or neglect toward any child in the church.  


-Do not treat any suspicion as frivolous
-Notify staff member or Elder immediately.  Commence the investigation right away.
-The staff member in charge should suspend the accused person from the performance of duties involving children until the official investigation has been completed.
-Cooperate fully with law enforcement officials.
-An Elder or his agent will inform victim and victim’s family of the steps that are being taken, and continue to keep them advised of the status of the investigation.  -If child abuse is confirmed, ask the victim and the victim’s family what action they would like to take in the matter and fully cooperate to address their requests within the bounds of a legal and prudent response.  (Church legal counsel should assist in this determination).
-In an instance where child abuse is confirmed, the church will immediately dismiss the worker from their position.  Termination will be considered appropriate in the circumstances.
-In instances where evidence is inconclusive, the church should take action with the advise of legal counsel in consultation with law enforcement officials depending on the strength of evidence available and after consideration of the victim and the victim’s family’s request.
-The Elder, in consultation with legal counsel, will determine the amount of information he believes is appropriate to the congregation.  Usually commenting in detail on an ongoing investigation is not wise.

Reporting obligation


By Kentucky law, anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is being physically abused, sexually abused, neglected or is depending is required to report this information.  If you suspect abuse, you should call your local Department for Community Based Services office or the Child Abuse Hot line (800) 752-6200.  Church staff member or Elder should also be informed immediately of any suspected child abuse.


Reported required


Any worker of the church who has cause to believe that a child’s physical or emotional health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect shall report that belief according to the follow procedure:


-The worker shall report such belief to an Elder, a member of the church staff and/or church leadership.
-The Elder or staff member will immediately report to one of the following: the local Department for Community Based Services (Kentucky Cabinet for Health and -Family Services), the Child Abuse Hotline (800-752-6200) or any local law enforcement agency.
-The Elder, or his agent, will notify the appropriate legal counsel.
-The Elder, or his agent, will notify the church’s insurance agent that an abuse report has been filed with the appropriate local or state agency.  

Incident report


The person making a report should identify:


-The name and address of the child.
-The name and address of the person responsible for the care, custody or welfare of the child.
-Any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect.

Confidentiality


All reports of child abuse or neglect shall be held in absolute confidence.  No person shall communicate any information concerning the alleged event to any person except as necessary to cooperate with any official investigation.  Any breach of this confidentiality by an employee of the church shall be cause for immediate dismissal.  The Elder, in consultation with the official conducting the investigation, may authorized limited additional disclosure if necessary to protect other children from harm in the near future, particularly where the person responsible for the abuse cannot be identified, but in no case shall the identity of the victim or the accused person be disclosed except as required by law.


Investigation of alleged abuse or neglect


No person shall attempt to conduct a detailed investigation either through examination or interrogation of the child, the accused person or a witness.  It is acceptable to obtain a reasonable amount of information to have cause to believe a child has been abused or neglected.  Interviews shall be conducted only by authorized officials of the agency to whom the suspected crime has been reported or, when appropriate, by legal counsel or person representing the church in an official capacity.  All employees and volunteers of the church shall cooperate with official investigation as requested.


Suspension of church related duties


A person accused of child abuse or neglect will be suspended from all church related duties involving children.  This would include all childcare, teaching or transportation duties.  The Elder and staff members are not authorized to conduct an investigation of the incident but are allowed to monitor any such investigation and receive confidential information concerning the incident as may be necessary to determine issues concerning the continuation of employment and compensation.  The person accused should be suspended on ‘paid leave’ (if person is a paid staff member) until the investigation is completed.  This removal from duty should occur in such a way that an innocent person is not immediately deemed guilty.  There are false claims made each year.  If the allegation is determined to be unsubstantiated, the employee can be returned to their prior position.


Preservation of records


Copies of all documents relating to an even of abuse or neglect, including a list of all persons known to be present or in the vicinity shall be transferred to the responsible staff member or Elder or his agent.  They will review them to determine if the documents are complete in accordance with church policy.  If any documents are mission, they shall make a written notation and transfer them to the church business administrator who shall retain them until advised that all criminal and civil investigation and actions have been completed.  


Soul care


The staff and Elder shall encourage and assist the child and the parents in securing appropriate counseling, care and support.  In the event the abuse or neglect involves a member or employee of the church, the staff shall encourage and assist the individual in securing appropriate pastoral care and support, including third party counseling, being mindful of the potential for a conflict of interest.  All persons shall act towards the child, the parents and the accused in accordance with the principles of Christianity at all times.


Liaison with the community


The Elder, or his appointed agent, will serve as the church’s sole access to the media.  The church should emphasize to the public its position on child abuse, its concern for the victim and the extensive steps being taken to address the safety of all children.