This post is a summary overview of what we work on in detail - Connor, Cora, Peter and I will review these policies twice a year, and all adult volunteers in Student Ministries receive annual training on this topic. Our full booklet that we work from is 46 pages long, so when I say summary, it truly is a summary - but please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about this!
Child Safety Practices for Student Ministries
Adult to student ratio - 2:15 for regular events and 2:10 for overnight events (we have more than double the required volunteers). We have a two-person policy for all events that take place in our wing - at least two adults are present in our rooms before we open the doors for students. While this policy legally only applies to official ministry meetings, I require that volunteers do not have mentoring relationships with students of the opposite sex. If parents give permission for volunteers to spend time with their child (e.g. going out for coffee) it must be a volunteer of the same gender as your child and we will seek permission first (youth only - doesn't happen with iConnect).
Volunteers are clearly marked as such - all of our staff and volunteers wear Student Ministries nametags on lanyards - so if you are new, it's easy to track us down. It's also easy to see what adults are supposed to be in our wing, and which adults aren't volunteers. Parents are welcome to poke their heads in to see what we are up to, but we ask that you ask permission before sitting in on an event - it makes it easier for us to know who is safe and who is a stranger. If you ever see someone in our building who doesn't seem safe, please find myself (Amanda), or another staff member such as Rob or Gord so we can touch base with that person.
Personal and emergency info is carefully maintained - we have copies of emergency contact info on hand with key volunteers at all times in case of injury and emergency. Your child's contact information is kept secure in a locked safe and our church-wide contact database is password protected and only key staff can access that information. We will never share this contact info without your permission. Volunteers have access to names and grades to learn who each student is. We also take attendance at all events in case of fire or earthquake.
Our church does have emergency procedures in place if there is a fire or earthquake. On a Sunday, all volunteers working with all minors in our building will escort them out safely. You can find your child with their group leader in the parking lot. Seek out ushers, church leaders, or anyone manning a fire exit if you have questions. On Fridays, each ministry evacuates their own age group and once attendance is taken and everyone is accounted for in the parking lot, you can take your child home. We have fire exit maps, fire alarms, sprinklers, and extinguishers around our building as required. We practice a fire drill annually in September on a Friday night (this year, Sept 25).
We do not provide food with nuts in it. Donated food (church lunches, etc.) must be labelled if they contain an allergen. iConnect snack donors are provided with a list of known allergies. We are aware of any allergies you or your child has notified us about - but if it is a severe allergy, please let us know so we are aware of any epi-pens or medication ahead of time.
We have well-stocked first aid kids in each of our rooms, plus in key areas around the church. We have two IED machines in our church with several key leaders and staff trained to use it. We also require that at least one person has first aid on any off-site outing.
For off-site activities that require volunteer drivers (e.g. Car Rally), all drivers must have a Class 5 license and a minimum of $2 million liability on their insurance. We also require permission forms from all students to attend these events. For other events, such as swimming, we often use school buses to get us there. If volunteers are driving for an event, students will never be alone with them in the car - there will either be several students, or two adults.
We do take photos at some of our events and may use them on this blog or our website. We will never post last names or any personal information with these photos. Same thing goes for event recap videos - no personal info listed. For youth Make a Movie Night, we ask that only first names are listed in the "credits" at the end of each movie. We often post photos from events in our Facebook group, which is private so strangers can't see anything. That way our students/parents can see all photos in a safe place. There are signs at every entrance in our rooms to remind students that if they do NOT want to be in photos, to let a key leader know. If you would prefer that your child is never in photos, please contact me in writing so I can document that information and let our volunteers know.
Thank you for entrusting your child into our care - we will do all we can to ensure that Student Ministries is a warm, welcoming, and safe place for all to be.