4.1 General Safety Standards & Emergency Procedures
4.2 Keeping Children Safe & Secure
Child Security Policies
Staffing & Supervision
4.3 Allegations of Abuse
4.4 Sexual Misconduct Policy
4.1 General Safety Standards & Emergency Procedures
Faith Community United Methodist Church strives to ensure an environment where members and visitors of all ages feel safe and secure. Just as the employees in a place of business are on the frontlines of ensuring the safety of customers, the volunteers of the church serve on the frontlines of ensuring the safety of those we minister to.
In general, as a volunteer, you should strive to:
- Serve using good and common-sense safety practices.
- Refrain from unsafe acts that might endanger yourself, the people you serve, or those who minister with you.
- Use any safety devices provided for your protection; for example, use safety belts for all sponsored church events or rubber gloves when changing diapers in the nursery.
- Report any unsafe situations or acts immediately to your team leaders.
In addition, please note the safety procedures in the following specific areas.
- Turn off electrical equipment when not in use.
- Notify your team leader of any equipment that has cracked or exposed wiring, is causing a shock or emitting sparks, or appears to be a potential fire hazard.
- Familiarize yourself with the locations of fire exits, alarms, and extinguishers in the areas of the church where you regularly serve.
- If you see smoke or fire, pull the fire alarm to alert people in the building. If it’s a small fire, use a nearby fire extinguisher.
- Do not use the elevator during a fire alarm.
- If evacuation is called for, use the closest unaffected exit. Guide the group you’re working with to walk in single file and to proceed quickly and calmly. Do not run.
- If you and your group encounter smoke, stay low.
- Move as far away from the building as possible for your safety and make room for emergency vehicles.
- Only if time permits before evacuation of the building, secure classified information, turn out lights, shut off equipment, and close doors.
- Remain where you are. Emergency lights will activate within a minute. By law, emergency lights are located in strategic areas of the church’s corridors and stairwells.
- If you exit the building during a power failure, don’t re-enter until power is restored.
- First-aid supplies are located in many areas of the church building. Volunteers should become familiar with these locations.
- Each first aid kit has a paper tablet. Whenever an item is used (i.e. band-aid), please follow the prescribed instructions.
- We will offer annual opportunities for members to receive CPR / First Aid certification. Our trainer shall conduct an annual audit of our first aid supplies and policies.
- We strongly recommend all sponsored events held off-site (i.e. retreat) include a chaperone that is certified as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). At a minimum, the ministry leaders should be First Aid certified.
- Fire 9-1-1 (920)
- Police 9-1-1 (920)
- Pastor (920)
- Poison Center (920)
- Runaway Switchboard (920)
- Suicide Hotline (920)
- Locksmith (920)
Keep in mind that we are not authorized to dispense over-the-counter or prescription medications to minors. In the event a minor needs more attention than we can provide, a parent will either be notified or a parent will have an annual Medical Form on file (7.14).
Serious injuries involving broken bones, convulsions, fainting, or other serious bodily injury should be treated as follows:
- Remain calm and keep the injured person and everyone else remain as calm as possible. Assure the injured at all times.
- Do not move the injured person and do not leave them unattended
- Contact parents immediately and then the appropriate staff person or senior pastor
- If it is such an emergency requiring 911, accompany the individual through the entire process. If the injured is a minor then bring the Medical Form that is on file in the church office.
- Complete the Accident Report form (14) and retain in the church office files for at least five (5) years
4.2 KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE & SECURE
Our desire at Faith Community United Methodist Church is to draw people to Jesus. This includes even the youngest children who attend our church. We take our responsibility to care for children very seriously. These guidelines are intended to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can come to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
It’s important for volunteers who work with children and youth to see themselves as partners with parents, seeking to provide quality care and instruction in the ministries and programs of our church. Our guidelines are designed to protect and promote faith formation for each child (and each adult volunteer) involved in children and youth ministries.
Everyone who teaches, helps, or cares for children must agree to follow these guidelines. They represent minimum requirements; leaders of individual programs may develop additional guidelines as appropriate to the ministry setting.
Architectural Precautions (birth through 6th grade)
- Doors will be open or windows left uncovered so that the view into a classroom remains unobstructed.
- Children under 3 will be cared for in rooms with gates or Dutch doors to keep them from leaving the nurseries without adult supervision.
- Nursery changing tables should be in view of all nursery workers.
Child Security Policies
- Drop-off Policy—Children should never be dropped off in a classroom without the teachers present. This is the responsibility of parents.
- Registration Policy—Programs for preschool children through fifth grade will provide a weekly sign-in sheet. Parents are to complete the information as requested.
- Pick-Up Policy—Parents of children in nurseries through fifth grade should pick up their children at their classrooms. Children in sixth grade and above will be released on their own unless parents inform teachers otherwise.
- Restroom Policy—All workers may take children to the restroom. Workers should take children to the restroom in groups, if possible. Assist children only if they ask. Encourage parents to take their children to the restroom before class begins. Please note: Never be alone with a child in the stall of a restroom with the door closed.
Classroom Supervision Guidelines
The Director of Discipleship & Outreach will approve teachers and workers. All willing workers will be interviewed and trained by the children ministries staff. All must agree to undergo a background check.
If a student or parent makes a complaint regarding a teacher or a worker, the Director of Discipleship & Outreach will review the incident and discuss it with the worker involved. Parents will be notified of any actions (such as additional training, leave of absence, or termination) that result from the complaint.
The goal of our church’s children and youth ministries is to foster a sense of biblical discipleship. Often, discipline can be handled by redirecting the child or teenager to a more constructive use of time and energy. Keeping the learning environment active and fun will usually eliminate the need for a lot of discipline.
However, children and teenagers must also understand that sometimes it is necessary to listen to lessons, instructions for an activity, etc. It’s important not to disrupt classroom times because that takes away from the fun and learning of fellow students.
When “discipline” is necessary, all interaction will carefully consider a child or teenager’s integrity and fragility. All children will be treated with gentleness, respect, and understanding. Physical punishment will never be used.
There is only one rule for programs involving students at Faith Community United Methodist Church. The rule is: Everyone will treat everyone else as a child of God. Leaders and teachers are to model love and respect the sacred worth of all.
Should a student’s behavior become unacceptable (such as aggressive physical behavior, verbal abuse of another person, destruction of church property, or an unwillingness to participate appropriately in program activities) the following steps will occur:
- Verbal reminder that the behavior is inappropriate and we are to treat everyone with love and respect.
- If behavior continues, a second verbal warning will be given indicating that if the behavior does not cease the child will be removed from the room.
- If the behavior continues, the student will be taken aside by an adult who will talk to the student and try to gain a better understanding of why the inappropriate behavior is occurring. When the adult determines that the student is ready, he/she will return to the classroom program.
Parents will be notified if the teacher deems it necessary.
Staffing and Supervision
Doors should be open whenever possible to allow for easy viewing of the classroom. In no case should windows of classrooms be covered. Supervisory staff will routinely check on classrooms. Parents are also welcome to check on their children’s classes, but should try to do so in a discrete way so the flow of the class isn’t disrupted.
For the safety of children and for the protection of volunteers, at least two unrelated adults should be present in each classroom, except in the event of an emergency. One trained adult teacher with a teen helper may also be adequate.
Infants (birth – 2 years) 1:2
Toddlers (2-4 years) 1:3
Younger Elementary (Kindergarten-2nd grades) 1:6
Older Elementary (3rd-5th grades) 1:6 (with gendered representation)
Junior High (6th-8th grades) 1:8 (with gendered representation)
Senior High (9th-12th grades) 1:8 (with gendered representation)
If an occasion arises and the church is unable to meet these minimal ratios, a ministry endeavor will have to be cancelled. We can only accept the number of infants as our leadership ratio allows. So if a volunteer fails to be responsible in securing a substitute, parents will be unable to leave their child(ren) in our nursery. This can have severe consequences to our outreach ministries. Again, these are minimal ratios and every effort should be made by volunteers, team leaders, and ministry coordinators to insure a leadership ratio greater than the minimum.
4.3 ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE
An accusation of child abuse can occur in any church, no matter how many precautions it takes. We must always be prepared to listen to and hear any allegation of abuse.
Handling Suspected Cases of Child Abuse or Neglect
At Faith Community United Methodist Church we care about others, especially children. We want to promote loving and caring relationships between children and adults. We want to support families as they seek to do their best in raising their children. But we also want to be aware that there are times when even the best of parents abuse or neglect their children.
Abuse may by physical, verbal, emotional or sexual. Neglect is lack of action related to health, nutritional, environmental, or emotional development.
If you have any reason to suspect any child under your care that may be a victim of child abuse or neglect please go through the following steps:
- Do not panic or overreact to any information that is disclosed. It may be a child talking or it may be real abuse. The point is that we should remain calm and not overact.
- If the child shares something in class with the rest of the group that you think is inappropriate make note of it without questioning the child. There will probably be a pattern and we want to document any information that we have. If you think the story they tell is serious, contact the senior pastor or appropriate staff member.
- If the child shares something with you in private then support that child and make note of what they say. Talk with the senior pastor or appropriate staff member about steps we can take.
4.4 SEXUAL MISCONDUCT POLICY
It is the policy of Faith Community United Methodist Church that the church members, church officers, non-member employees and volunteers are to maintain the integrity of the ministerial and employment relationship at all times. Sexual contact between church workers (staff and volunteer) and others in their care is a violation of the ministerial and employment relationship, and is therefore never permissible.
Sexual misconduct is a misuse of authority and power which breaches Christian ethical principles by misusing a trust relationship to gain advantage over another for personal pleasure in an abusive, exploitative and unjust manner. If the parishioner, or employee initiates or invites sexual contact in the relationship, it is the pastor’s, counselor’s, officers, supervisor’s or teacher’s responsibility to maintain the appropriate role and prohibit a sexual relationship.
Because pastors often deal with individuals who are emotionally or psychological fragile, or personally vulnerable, there cannot be a mutual sharing of the power in the relationship and the pastor must always avoid inappropriate contact.
- Sexual Misconduct is the comprehensive term used in this policy to include:
- Physical sexual contact within a ministerial or employment relationship.
- Rape or sexual contact by force, threat or intimidation.
- Child sexual abuse is defined below.
- Sexual Harassment is defined below.
- Child Sexual Abuse includes, but is not limited to, any contact or interaction between a child and adult when the child is being used for sexual stimulation of the adult. The behavior may or may not involve touching.
- Sexual Harassment as defined for this policy and consistent with the federal law is as follows: Unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment.
- Submission to or rejecting of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
If the allegations are substantiated during the inquiry, then the following procedures will be followed:
- If the misconduct involves a pastor, the matter will be referred to the District Superintendent for action. The suspension of duties will remain in effect.
- If the misconduct involves church employees other than pastors, the determination of appropriate action will be the responsibility of the governing council and committee charged with staff oversight.
- If the misconduct involves a volunteer worker, the determination of the appropriate action will be the responsibility of the governing board.
- Recommend actions for the pastoral care of the accuser, the accused and families of all involved, as well as actions to begin the healing process with the congregation.
Further definition and policy may be obtained from the Wisconsin Conference of The United Methodist Church.
The above procedures are independent from any civil or criminal actions arising from the alleged misconduct.
Generally, the church will be guided by the following when an allegation of abuse occurs:
- All allegations of abuse will be taken seriously.
- Situations will be handled immediately, yet with due respect to people’s confidentiality and privacy.
- Full cooperation will be given to law enforcement authorities with the guidance of church lawyers.
- Appropriate care will be given to victims.
- The alleged abuser will not be considered “guilty” or treated as such until an investigation can take place
Precautions the church will take include:
- Completed application forms and records of background checks and screening procedures should be kept for five years after a volunteer completes his time of service.
- If media becomes involved during an investigation of alleged abuse, the church will appoint a spokesperson to respond, and advise all church members to not respond on their own.
- The church will be prepared to show the precautions it takes with every volunteer who ministers in areas where abuse could occur.
- No one should engage in denial, minimization, or blame.
- Church leaders should not accuse the victim or detail the event to those not involved with the incident.
- Those involved in investigating the incident should thoroughly document each step.
- Get proper assistance for the victim and accused.
- Reach out to the victim and accused; if the accused is a volunteer, the church will relieve him or her of duties until the incident is resolved.