Church Nursery by coltonvelencia

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									                                                   MINISTRY PROTECTION MEMO
                                                     “THE CHURCH NURSERY”
                                                                                                                              Volume 4
Prepared by the PACT Service Center, Sponsored by the General Council on Finance and Administration

                                                                                    cm). The dimensions of openings in your cribs and
      KEEPING THE NURSERY SAFE
                                                                                    playpens should be checked to verify that the safety
      Is your nursery safe? Churches providing nursery care                         standard is met. If any equipment does not meet this
      have taken on increased responsibility for protecting                         standard, discard it.
      the safety of children while their parents worship                                                                                      Vol. 1
                                                                                    Electrical wiring, switches and outlets should be
      and participate in other activities.
                                                                                    checked and brought up to local electrical codes.
      Physical injuries to children left in a nursery could                         Electrical outlets should be covered when not in use,
      range from minor cuts and bruises to more serious                             preferably with a non-movable piece of furniture, or
      injuries such as broken bones and concussions. Falls,                         with safety caps. Do not allow cords from clocks or
      electric shock, food poisoning or the spread of                               other electrical appliances to dangle, creating potential
      communicable diseases could be seen as the                                    strangulation hazards. Extension cords should never be
      consequence of a poorly supervised nursery or an                              used as permanent wiring, and must not be exposed to
      unsatisfactory physical environment.                                          access by children even when used temporarily for
                                                                                    electrical devices such as video cassette recorders or
      Building and room inspections should be undertaken                            tape, compact disc, or record players.
      at regular intervals with a focus on the physical
      conditions of ceilings, walls, floors and floor                               Gates should be installed on stairwells and windows
      covering, lighting and general housekeeping.                                  which are accessible to young children. Doors need to
                                                                                    be closed to prevent children from wandering off, while
                                A “kid’s eye view”                                  maintaining access for parents and other adults into the
                                inspection of the church                            nursery. A safety glass viewing port in the door, or the
                                nursery, adjacent areas and                         use of a split door can provide a solution.
                                washrooms used by
                                nursery students is                                 Great care needs to be taken in the proper and safe storing
                                recommended. When you                               of cleaning supplies, insecticides, matches, power tools
      inspect your nursery, get down on your hands and                              and any other hazardous materials. Such materials
      knees and observe the room from the height and                                should be stored in child-resistant, locked enclosures
      perspective of the children who use the nursery.                              away from the nursery area. Any supplies utilized in
                                                                                    nursery activities, such as paints, crayons and the
      There are several potential hazards which should be                           like, must be non-toxic.
      checked. Any stairs used by nursery students should
      have anti-slip treads and child-high handrails.                               Nursery furnishings, equipment and toys should be
      Walkways and stairs should be free from recognized                            sanitized on a regular basis. Crib and playpen mattress
      “trip and fall” hazards. Climbing toys that are not age-                      coverages should be made of washable vinyl. proper
      appropriate for nursery students should be removed.                           disposal facilities for soiled diapers are a requisite. All
      Do not leave furniture or toys stacked so a child                             trash cans in the nursery should be securely covered.
      would find them inviting to climb, which may result
                                                                                    If snacks or beverages are provided by either the church
      in physical injury to them or others in the nursery.
                                                                                    or parents, provisions to keep the food at the proper
      All cribs and playpens used in the nursery should
                                                                                    temperature until it is consumed are essential. Clean up
      meet current safety standards. Serious injury may
                                                                                    thoroughly after the children eat refreshments to avoid
      occur if a child’s head becomes wedged between the
                                                                                    food poisoning from the consumption of spoiled
      slats or other opening. The distance between
                                                                                    leftovers or spillage, and attracting insects or
      components in the cribs (such as slats, spindles, crib
                                                                                    vermin.
      rods, corner posts) should be no wider than 2 3/8” (6

                                                                     The Church Nursery
                                                                     Page 1 of 8 May 2005
Churches with nurseries in a location at some                          payments. There may be separate policies or
distance from the church sanctuary, fellowship hall,                   endorsements for vicious liability for physical or
church office or another location where adults are                     sexual abuse and for day care centers. Check with
present when the nursery is in use will want to                        your church’s insurance agent to determine what is
consider the installation of a remote audio monitor.                   covered by your policy and at what limits. You do not
Adults away from the nursery listening in on the                       want to discover an under-insurance problem in the
activities can speed the response should an                            event of a loss. You should also confirm that liability
emergency require additional assistance. A buzzer                      protection is afforded non-medical personnel who
system, accessible only to adults, incorporated into the               administer first aid to children and others who may be
monitoring system allows for a “help” signal to be                     injured in the nursery or elsewhere at the church.
sent when necessary.
                                                                       An assessment of liability exposures is
The fire and emergency evacuation plan should be                       recommended for church nursery programs. Parents
posted and known by every nursery worker. At a                         have a right to be concerned about the well being of
minimum, two remote fire exits with illuminated                        others during worship, weekday care or other church
exit signs, and preferably with panic hardware, should                 activities. Evaluate your SUPERVISION,
be provided. Never lock exit doors with padlocks or                    SECURITY, SAFETY,
deadbolts. Emergency lighting should be installed in                   and SANITATION
order to provide necessary illumination in the event of a              procedures to assure
power failure. An approved automatic sprinkler system                  yourself that you have
is the best defense against the peril of fire, and may be              taken the necessary
required due to your building construction or local                    preventive steps to avoid
ordinances. Check your local building code to verify                   an accident or incident.
that you are meeting all ordinance requirements.
                                                                       Adequate SUPERVISION of children in the
Approved fire extinguishers should be properly placed,                 nursery may be taken for granted and if not properly
available within 75 feet of the nursery, and                           maintained, may result in tragic consequences. Do
accessible to adults but not young children.                           you have a minimum of two nursery attendants on
Extinguishers should be inspected or recharged and                     duty at all times, with a ratio of at least one nursery
tagged at least annually. All possible sources of fire                 worker to every four children? Should one of the
should be eliminated or properly controlled. Boilers and               children require special assistance when only one
furnaces should be enclosed within a minimum one hour                  person has been assigned to the nursery, there is no
fire resistive rooms and located well away from the                    backup assistance readily available. Are your
nursery.                                                               nursery attendants an appropriate age for this
                                                                       responsible assignment? At least one of the workers
A safety check of your church nursery facilities should                should be age 18 or older whenever the church
be a high priority. It should become a routine activity for            nursery is in use. It is inappropriate to have older
those responsible for the nursery operation and completed              children and youth responsible for the church
at least twice a year.                                                 nursery. Adult supervision is required. Have you
                                                                       thoroughly screened your nursery workers to
LIABILITY EXPOSURES
                                                                       determine qualifications? Have you checked
One of the first risk management                                       references for any previous history which would
steps for every church with a                                          disqualify any of the workers to serve in the
nursery program is to review the                                       nursery?
current insurance policy to
confirm that there is adequate                                         SAFETY – SECURITY – SANITATION
protection in place. The liability                                     Security is as much an issue with church nurseries as in
coverage provided under insurance policies for local                   secular settings. Is your nursery located so that access
churches usually includes bodily injury and medical
                                                        The Church Nursery
                                                        Page 2 of 8 May 2005
from outside the church facility is regulated? Are the                 SCREENING – NURSERY – WORKERS
washrooms used by nursery attendants and children
adjacent to or near the nursery? Do others involved                    Parents and guardians who leave infants and toddlers
in church activities, such as ushers or church school                  in the care of church nursery workers expect that
superintendents, for example, check on the nursery                     their children will have a safe and nurturing
periodically to see that things are OK? Is a phone                     experience. Lasting impressions about the care given
readily available and is its location known by nursery                 by church members are formed with the children and
workers so that emergency police, fire and medical                     adults. The church’s love in action is the desired
personnel can be summoned quickly if necessary?                        impression, so every possible step should be taken to
Remember to post emergency phone numbers, including                    ensure that nursery time is positive. Churches
direct dial numbers, as an alternative to 9-1-1 service.               particularly want to avoid the occurrence of any
Are there measures in place to restrict the persons who                accident, or have children victimized by physical or
pick up children at the end of worship or other event to               sexual abuse in the church’s nursery.
only those authorized to do so? Your church does not
want to contribute to unauthorized pickup, whether by a                Workers are the nursery, as much as the setting,
stranger or from a non-custodial parent or other relative.             housekeeping, toys, activities and other children.
Many churches have implemented a sign-in, sign-out                     Local churches typically conduct minimum
policy, utilizing matching identification tags for child               application, screening and supervision of their paid
and parent, to prevent children leaving with an                        and/or volunteer nursery staff, a step so crucial to
unauthorized adult.                                                    successful nursery operation. The enthusiastic
                                                                       acceptance the church historically offered to almost
Children’s SAFETY can be enhanced by evaluating                        anyone willing to work with children is widely
several concerns. Are all the nursery toys and                         known both inside and outside the church
furnishings in proper repair? Are the toys and equipment               membership. This has left many of our churches
age-appropriate? Are toys, furniture and equipment                     vulnerable to violation of the trust given to nursery
stacked so that they will not become unstable and fall                 workers by church leaders, parents and children.
on children? Are children prevented from wandering                     Would physical discipline of toddlers be promptly
off unobserved through entrance ways and                               dealt with as unacceptable? Are your nursery
windows? Are electrical outlets guarded, and fans and                  workers capable of responding to immediate first-aid
other electrical appliances out of the reach of children?              needs should a child be injured? Is your nursery
Do cribs meet safety code standards; and are those                     staffed by a person authorized to change soiled
which don’t discarded?                                                 diapers, or who knows how to locate a parent when a
                                                                       change becomes necessary? Families and other
SANITATION care of the nursery includes                                church members need reassurance that only persons
cleaning toys, furnishings and washroom facilities                     qualified to handle these and the other demands
with a disinfectant on a regular basis; having proper                  placed on nursery workers are assigned. It is crucial
disposal facilities available, and safe handling                                                   that you develop a policy
procedures in place, for soiled diapers; having first aid                                          requiring persons to
supplies readily available for emergency use; and                                                  formally apply for these
having safe procedures in place to avoid disease                                                   important positions, and
transmittal from treating wounds.                                                                  that the policy be
                                                                                                   implemented and applied
These are just some of the aspects of church nursery                                               consistently.
operations which should be reviewed regularly. For
further information and assistance, contact the                        Responsible church leaders use the utmost care in
PACT Service Center. Many county and state                             screening volunteer and paid staff who will be
departments of health, and child protective services                   working with children in the nursery. Some child
agencies have helpful resources available.                             abuse prevention specialists suggest that, as other
                                                                       professional child-serving programs and agencies

                                                        The Church Nursery
                                                        Page 3 of 8 May 2005
   implement more effective screening techniques,                         to get anyone to volunteer to work in the nursery as
   church programs will be an attraction to chronic                       it is” are two commonly heard comments. Without a
   child abusers. It is crucial that local churches begin                 consistently enforced policy in place, a local church
   to exercise more care in screening all who work with                   may find itself in the awkward position of
   children and youth. Experts suggest that you use an                    attempting to respond to an applicant with a
   application form to check that background, training                    potentially inappropriate background to work in the
   and experience of individuals volunteering their                       nursery; and, at the same time, having no assurance
   services, and of those applying for paid nursery                       that others already working in the nursery are
   positions. The encouraged practice is to require all                   appropriately placed.
   persons to submit an application for any desired
   position. The significance of any position is affirmed                 Document all of your personnel processes: hiring,
   when persons wishing to serve must apply for the                       probations, incidents and dismissals. Maintain your
   opportunity. A model form for use with volunteers is                   documentation with the full knowledge that others
   included in the Appendix. It is essential to request                   may read the records, so take care to include factual
   information about current employment, previous                         details, not speculative commentary. All
   church membership, previous volunteer work,                            employment and volunteer applications should be
   qualifications and possible criminal record. It is                     retained permanently, locked up and available only
   appropriate to ask why individuals wish to work in the                 to properly authorized church staff and members.
   nursery. References should be carefully checked and                    Typically, personnel records for former employees
   a written record of the process kept in the volunteer’s                should be maintained for three years after
   file. Previous incidents or allegations which could                    termination. However, information on church
   disqualify them may be discovered. Nursery worker                      workers with children should be maintained for a
   applications with criminal records, child abuse history                longer period, given the statute of limitations on
   of alcohol and other drug abuse problems should not be                 abuse or misconduct incidents.
   entrusted with the care of children.
                                                                          Remember, those who work in your church nursery
   Similar queries should be made of applicants for                       represent your church to others as much as the
   paid positions, although the type of questions which                   pastoral leadership, the quantity and quality of your
   may be asked of persons applying for paid positions                    ministries and missions, and the impression created
   varies from state to state. Generally, applicants for paid             by your buildings and grounds. Appropriate
   positions may only be asked questions which are                        screening of nursery workers will go a long way
   relevant to the position being sought. Application and                 toward developing an excellent church nursery that
   reference forms used in your local church should be                    you can be proud of, and which parents will be
   reviewed with legal counsel familiar with your                         pleased is available.
   state’s employment laws prior to implementation.

   You should be clear that all nursery workers serve a
   probationary period and may not be continued in
   their position after that time. It is best for all parties
   involved to have a clear probationary and
   termination procedure than to face the difficulty of
                                                                          The PACT Service Center has enhanced this Ministry Protection Memo as an
   need to release an ineffective, inappropriate of                       educational tool on behalf of the United Methodist Property And Casualty Trust.
   disqualified nursery worker after weeks or years of                    PACT does not develop loss control procedures for United Methodist
                                                                          organizations, but does offer the Ministry Protection Memo series to help them
   service.                                                               develop loss control procedures to suit their own needs. We do not intend for nor
                                                                          does this memo establish a standard of care regarding any of this subject matter,
   Some local church members may resist the idea that                     and PACT does not provide legal advice. We encourage church leaders to consult
                                                                          with competent attorneys about any matter that has potential legal implications.
   all persons wishing to serve in the nursery be                         PACT encourages reproduction and distribution of this memo within the United
                                                                          Methodist denomination. Non-United Methodist groups may contact the PACT
   required to apply for the responsibility. “No one                      Service Center, The Gallagher Center, Two Pierce Place, Itasca, IL 60143, 877-
   would ever harm any of our children” and “it’s hard                    UMC-PACT to discuss permission to reproduce this memo. [5/05]


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