The latest at Tri County Christian Church
Tri County Christian Church is in the "draft process" of a Child Protection Policy. The following draft is considered in the "Review & Comment" phase. Anyone with thoughts, concerns or ideas that they'd like to share with us are encouraged to email them to us by clicking here.
General Purpose Statement
Tri County Christian Church seeks to provide a safe and secure environment for the children who participate in our programs and activities. By implementing the below practices, our goal is to protect the children of Tri County Christian Church from incidents of misconduct or inappropriate behavior while also protecting our staff and volunteers (workers) from false accusations.
For purposes of this policy, the terms “child” or “children” include all persons under the age of eighteen (18) years. The term “worker” includes both paid and unpaid persons who work with children. The term “volunteer” means anyone involved in a day care or school, in overnight activities involving minors, in counseling of minors, or in one-on-one mentoring of minors. “Events” shall include any activity either at the church or apart from the church, either church-advertised and sanctioned or privately established.
Selection of Workers
Persons who have regularly attended Tri County or who worked or volunteered in Tri County’s children’s program prior to November 1, 2019 and who are well known by the minister and eldership of the church will be exempt from the Selection of workers criteria.
All persons who desire to work with the children participating in our programs and activities will be screened. This screening includes the following:
a)Six Month Rule
No person will be considered for any volunteer position involving contact with minors until she/he has been involved with Tri County Christian Church for a minimum of six (6) months. This time of interaction between our leadership and the applicant allows for better evaluation and suitability of the applicant for working with children.
All persons seeking to work with children must complete and sign a written application in a form to be supplied by us. The application will request basic information from the applicant and will inquire into previous experience with children, previous Christian church affiliation, reference and employment information, as well as disclosure of any previous criminal convictions. The application form will be maintained in confidence in the church’s secure files.
Upon completion of the application, a face-to-face interview may be scheduled with the applicant to discuss his/her suitability for the position.
Before an applicant is permitted to work with children, at least two of the applicants’ references will be checked. These references should be of an institutional nature as opposed to personal or family references, preferably from organizations where the applicant has worked with children in the past. Documentation of the reference checks will be maintained in confidence on file in the church’s secure files.
e)Criminal Background Check
A national criminal background check is required for all employees (regardless of position) and “volunteers” as defined above.
Before a background check is run, prospective workers will be asked to sign an authorization form allowing the church to run the check. If an individual declines to sign the authorization form, s/he will be unable to work with children.
A disqualifying offense that will keep an individual from working with children will be determined by the minister and elders of Tri County Christian Church on a case-by-case basis in light of all the surrounding circumstances. Generally, convictions for an offense involving children and/or for offenses involving violence, dishonesty, illegal substances, indecency and any conduct contrary to our mission will preclude someone from being permitted to work with children. Failure to disclose a criminal conviction on the application form will also be a disqualifying event.
The background check authorization form and results will be maintained in confidence on file in the church’s secure files.
To ensure an environment that is acceptable to all parents for their children, Tri County expects all workers to ensure an environment that reflects the highest standards and traditions of the church. At no time shall alcohol, illegal or recreational drugs be used or displayed when minors are present. Vaping is prohibited in the presence of minors. Persons who smoke are encouraged to do so discreetly, but never in the same room or vehicle as a minor. If movies or television programs are watched, the rating shall never exceed PG when minors are present. Video games that depict violence or of a sexual nature are not allowed when minors are present. Generally, workers and volunteers are expected to maintain an environmental atmosphere when away from the church that would be expected at the church.
Two Adult Rule
Two adult workers or volunteers must be in attendance at all times when children are being supervised during our programs and activities unless the church leadership is informed agrees that only one worker or volunteer is present. Where there is an occurrence of one adult teacher in attendance during the class session; the doors to the classroom should remain open and there should be no fewer than three students with the adult teacher. We do not allow minors to be alone with one adult on our premises or in any sponsored activity unless in a professional counseling situation that is known by a duplicity of Church leaders. Workers in the church should abide by these same Guidelines when participating with minors from the church for non-church sanctioned events.
Youth workers or volunteers must never have sleepover events unless two adults are present at all times during the event.
Workers shall never travel with or be with a minor of the opposite sex unless a second adult is present.
Responding to Allegations of Child Abuse
For purposes of this policy, “child abuse” is any action (or lack of action) that endangers or harms a child’s physical, psychological or emotional health and development. Child abuse occurs in different ways and includes the following:
●Physical abuse – any physical injury to a child that is not accidental, such as beating, shaking, burns, and biting.
●Emotional abuse – emotional injury when the child is not nurtured or provided with love and security, such as an environment of constant criticism, belittling and persistent teasing.
●Sexual abuse – any sexual activity between a child and an adult or between a child and another child at least four years older than the victim, including activities such as fondling, exhibitionism, intercourse, incest, and pornography.
●Neglect – depriving a child of his or her essential needs, such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care.
Workers and volunteers may have the opportunity to become aware of abuse or neglect of the children under our care. In the event that an individual involved in the care of children at this church becomes aware of suspected abuse or neglect of a child under his/her care, this should be reported immediately to the minister and/or elders for further action, including reporting to authorities as may be mandated by state law.
In the event that an incident of abuse or neglect is alleged to have occurred at this church or during our sponsored programs or activities, the following procedure shall be followed:
- The parent or guardian of the child will be notified.
- The worker or church member alleged to be the perpetrator of the abuse or misconduct will immediately be placed on leave pending an investigation and instructed to remain away from the premises during the investigation. He or she should be instructed to have no contact with the victim or with witnesses.
- All allegations of abuse should be reported to the civil authorities, and the organization will comply with the state’s requirements regarding mandatory reporting of abuse as the law then exists. The organization will fully cooperate with the investigation of the incident by civil authorities.
- The insurance company will be notified, and the organization will complete an incident report. Any documents received relating to the incident and/or allegations will immediately be forwarded to the insurance company.
- The organization will designate a spokesperson to the media concerning incidents of abuse or neglect. The advice of legal counsel will be sought before responding to media inquiries or releasing information about the situation to the congregation. All other representatives of the organization should refrain from speaking to the media.
- A pastoral visit will be arranged for those who desire it. This should be for the purpose of providing pastoral support during the time of crisis and not for the purpose of investigating the incident or influencing the investigation.
- Any person who is not found innocent of the alleged abuse or misconduct will be removed from their position working with children or youth.
Open Door Policy
Classroom doors should remain open unless there is a window in the door or a side window beside it. Doors should never be locked while persons are inside the room.
We recognize that there may be times when it is necessary or desirable for babysitters (paid or volunteer) who are themselves under age 18 to assist in caring for children during programs or activities. The following guidelines apply to teenage workers:
●Must be at least age 14.
●Must be screened as specified above.
●Must be under the supervision of an adult and must never be left alone with children.
Sick Child Policy
It is our desire to provide a healthy and safe environment for all of the children at Tri County Christian Church. Parents are encouraged to be considerate of other children when deciding whether to place a child under our care. In general, children with the following symptoms should NOT be dropped off:
●Fever, diarrhea, or vomiting within the last 48 hours;
●Green or yellow runny nose;
●Eye or skin infections; and/or
●Other symptoms of communicable or infectious disease.
Children who are observed by our workers to be ill will be separated from other children and the parent or guardian will be contacted to request that the child be picked up for the day.
Permission slips signed by a parent or legal guardian shall be obtained for any minor participating at an activity or event that involves traveling. The permission slip shall explicitly state the parents’ agreement for the child to travel in a vehicle driven by a specific person, to a specific place and for a specified period of time. When travel involves locations outside the state of Michigan, the permission slip must be notarized. It is recommended that all permission slips include parental or guardian permission for urgent medical care to be authorized by the chaperones of an activity, insurance information and any medication allergy.
It is the policy of Tri County Christian Church not to administer either prescription or non-prescription medications to the children under our care unless specifically authorized on a permission form with specific instructions for the administering of the medication.
Exceptions to the medications policy may be granted to parents of children with potentially life-threatening conditions (such as asthma or severe allergic reactions). Parents of such children should address their situation with the minister to develop a plan of action.
It is the policy of Tri County Christian Church not to administer corporal punishment, even if parents have suggested or given permission for it. There should be no spanking, grabbing, hitting, or other physical discipline of children. Workers should consult with the minister or an elder if assistance is needed with disciplinary issues.
Children five years of age and younger should use a classroom bathroom if one is available. If a classroom bathroom is not available, workers should escort a group of children to the hallway bathroom. They should always go in a group, never taking a child to the bathroom alone. The workers should check the bathroom first to make sure that it is empty, and then allow the children inside. The workers should then remain outside the bathroom door and escort the children back to the classroom. If a child is taking longer than seems necessary, the worker should open the bathroom door and call the child's name. If a child requires assistance, the workers should prop open the bathroom door, and leave the stall door open as they assist the child.
For children over the age of five, at least one adult male should take boys to the restroom and at least one adult female should take girls. The worker should check the bathroom first to make sure that the bathroom is empty, and then allow the children inside. The worker should then remain outside the bathroom door and escort the children back to the classroom.
For the protection of all, workers should never be alone with a child in a bathroom with the door closed and never be in a closed bathroom stall with a child. Parents are strongly encouraged to have their children visit the bathroom prior to each class.
Accidental Injuries to Children
In the event that a child or youth is injured while under our care, the following steps should be followed:
1.For minor injuries, scrapes, and bruises, workers will provide First Aid (Band-Aids, etc.) as appropriate and will notify the child’s parent or guardian of the injury at the time the child is picked up from our care.
2.For injuries requiring medical treatment beyond simple First Aid, the parent and/or guardian will immediately be summoned in addition to other workers present. If warranted by circumstances, an ambulance will be called.
3.Once the child has received appropriate medical attention, an incident report will be completed in the case of injuries requiring treatment by a medical professional.
Tri county Christian Church will provide training on this child protection policy to all new childcare workers and will strive to provide opportunities for additional training classes or events on an annual basis. All workers are strongly encouraged to attend these training events.