Effective Date:  May 12, 2009
Latest Revision Date:  September 1, 2015


Purpose & Background :

The Child Safety Task Force (CSTF) comprised of members from the Staff Pastor Parish Relations and Education Committees of Chatham United Methodist Church (Chatham UMC), at the direction of Pastor Sara Isbell compared current hiring and operating procedures with those recommended by Safe Sanctuaries and Church Mutual. The committee also contacted the State of Illinois Department of Child and Family services to determine exactly what their screening includes. After review and discussion, the CSTF has voted to submit to Church Council the following procedures to reduce the risk of Child Abuse in the Church. Chatham UMC’s comprehensive prevention strategy adopts a two-pronged approach: employee screening and basic operating procedures.


10.1 – Employee and volunteer screening

The importance of screening all adults who work with minors cannot be overstated. In addition to contacting DCFS to screen applicants for neglect or abuse, Chatham UMC will now background check all new hires AND all volunteers working with minors through a professional ministry security company. These will be reviewed on an annual basis.


10.2 – The “Six Months Involvement Rule”

The “Six Months Involvement Rule” requires all adults working with children and youth to be involved with Chatham UMC for at least six months before they are allowed in any position involving contact with minors. While the “six months” rule does not apply to new hires, references for all job applicants will be checked before hiring.


10.3 – The “Two Adult Rule”

The “Two Adult Rule” requires no fewer than two adults present at all times during a church sponsored program, event or ministry involving children or youth. A designated roamer can serve as the second adult during Sunday School Hour assuming that classroom doors are left open. Risk will be reduced if the two adults are unrelated. One adult should never be alone in a car with one youth; however, for transportation several youth may travel with one adult. Exceptions are made when the adult and the child are related.


10.4 – The “Five-Years Older Rule”

Leaders of youth ministry should be a minimum of five years older than the oldest youth.


10.5 – No Workers under age 18

People under age eighteen can assist a responsible adult, but they should not substitute for an adult under the Two Adult Rule.


10.6 – Sign In/Out Rule

At Chatham UMC all parents of youth and children involved in programs are required to register for a Kidcheck (automated check-in software) account prior to or during their first visit. Matching nametags for children and printed receipts for adults ensure that children aged 5th grade and younger are released only to the designated approved adult. (Kidcheck account records may verify permission to release children to adults who do not have a receipt). For the safety of all children, there will be no exceptions to this rule. Youth grades 6-12 will be provided with a way to do self check-in and check-out after their parents have checked them in the first time.


10.7 – Windows in All Classroom Doors

Each room set aside for children and youth will have a door or wall with a window in it or keep the door open at all times.


10.8 – Open-Door Counseling

At any counseling session with children or youth, the door on the room used will remain open for the entire session, ideally when others are nearby even though not in listening distance. When necessary, exceptions are made for areas with security cameras when office camera monitor is being intentionally observed.


10.9 – First Aid/CPR Training

First aid and CPR training will be offered on an annual basis for all church workers with children and youth as a basic step to assure safety. Chatham UMC will have competent workers who are prepared to deal with bumps, bruises and scrapes.


10.10 – Advance Notice to Parents

Chatham UMC will give parents advance notice and full information regarding the events in which their children will participate. Before special events, such as off-site activities, parents must give written permission for their child to participate. Advance information allows parent and child to decide if the event is suitable for their participation. The church will plan thoroughly to provide the safest possible experience.


10.11 – Participation Covenant for All Participants and Leaders

A written covenant of participation will be provided to all leaders and participants in children’s and youth ministry in which they agree to: (1) take part in the ministry, (2) give their best efforts to the ministry, (3) respect the other participants, (4) treat others as well as they would wish to be treated and (5) read and abide by the Chatham UMC Procedures for Safe Ministry with Children and Youth. Such a covenant is especially useful for establishing the onset of behavior standards expected by everyone. It is also an important reminder for leaders that abusive behavior toward the children and youth will not be tolerated.


10.12 – Parent and Family Education

The church will provide printed copies of the Chatham UMC Procedures for Safe Ministry with Children and Youth to the congregation and parents. It will also be made available on the church website.


10.13 – Appropriate Equipment and Supervision

If a particular youth/children’s activity involves using special equipment, advance familiarity with its operation is expected. All children must be supervised – both inside and out – when on church property.


10.14 – Incident Reports

All adults supervising minors must fill out an incident report if 1) a minor is injured and needs first aid or medical treatment, or 2) minors have been involved in a physical altercation. (In the case of a physical altercation the youth(s) at fault will be sent home.)