Valuing Children and Youth at RECC
Our church has a rich history of being involved in ministries with children and youth to show them God’s love and welcome them into the life of the church. Our written policy on Child Safety (updated and voted on September, 2012), contains procedures that have been established to help make RECC a safe environment that minimizes the risk of emotional, physical or sexual abuse happening within our children/youth ministries. This policy is meant to inform and encourage both families and volunteers so that we may continue to make Ravenswood and safe and healthy environment for all ages. We owe so much gratitude to all of our volunteers and staff who throughout the years have shaped many faithful generations of kids at RECC – we are excited to continue to see our church be a place where kids meet and grow to love Jesus!
Summary of the Policy & Online Forms
Every volunteer working with children/youth in a volunteer or paid capacity is required to have a background check done every five years. Church members fill out the background check form and agree to any additional references or follow-up as needed. Non-church members also fill out a Volunteer Form (this information is gathered for church members in their application materials.) All information obtained is confidential and records are maintained by the Senior Pastor. The commission chairs whose areas are involved with kids (Children and Family and Youth), the Senior Pastor and any other staff (Youth Pastors/Coordinator/Interns) working with kids work together to train volunteers on this policy each year and to submit up to date names to check.
Download our Background Check Consent Form(needed by all members and non-members)
Download our Volunteer Form here (only needed for non-members)
Download our full Child Safety Policy and Procedures.
Why We Need This Policy
Below we’ve explained a bit more about why we (like every church), now needs a written policy related to child/youth safety. Our hope is that this policy will enhance our ability to keep showing kids the love of Christ and welcoming them into a healthy, inter-generational community, and will also equip our volunteers to be safe and smart in ministry.
Churches are often places where high trust in relationships, a history of knowing each other, and a shared common faith create strong bonds between people. All of these values remain good things that shape our church – but they can also lead to not noticing risks that can open the door to violating vulnerable kids. The rise of child abuse in society, and the increase of reported sexual misconduct among church staff/church volunteers across the country, have driven many churches to seriously re-consider their role in protecting kids in ministry. A written policy is one key step to take to educate the church/volunteers, protect children, and also protect the church leadership from any potential liability should the worst case scenario occur within a ministry setting. The adoption of this policy for Ravenswood is not in response to any concern or need presently occurring within the church, in other words, but is being put in place intentionally in order to create a culture of awareness and safety to safeguard our congregation for the future. It is built on previous steps that our church has always undertaken to keep kids safe and is an updated policy continuing that same commitment.
Here one professional explains the risk of abuse that churches face:
“Many risk-consultant professionals agree that the church and other nonprofits are the predator’s last refuge. Perpetrators are looking for easy access to vulnerable children, youth, senior citizens, and people with disabilities, and often just knowing that a screening process is in place protects these vulnerable people.
The Volunteers for Children Act signed in 1998 states that you can be sued for negligent hiring if you have an incident with one of your volunteers or employees and you didn’t conduct a national search to look for a previous criminal record. So anyone who works with children at your church, paid or unpaid, should be on your list for mandatory background checks.” (Bob D/Ambrosio, “Leadership and Leading Volunteers: Safety First,” www.children’sministry.org, September 12, 2012.)
Any questions about this policy can be directed to the Pastor Phil. For more information about the important topic of child safety in ministries, there are many online resources: a few include www.childrensministry.org, www.protectmyministry.org and www.covchurch.org