SAFE SANCTUARIES POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
VANDERBURG UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Revised and Adopted
In keeping with Resolution 3084 (Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse in the Church) and Resolution 8009 (Church Participation of a Registered Child Sex Offender), adopted by the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, in April 1996, and re-adopted in 2008; the Biblical teachings and the traditions and beliefs of the United Methodist Church, Vanderburg United Methodist Church (VUMC) agrees to adopt the following policy and procedures to provide a safe sanctuary, to demonstrate our absolute and unwavering commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all our children and youth. (A child is a person 12 and under.)
VUMC pledges to conduct its ministries in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of children and youth as well as all of the workers with children and youth. VUMC will follow reasonable procedures in all programs and events; will educate all of those who work with children and youth regarding the use of all appropriate policies, procedures and methods, will have a clearly defined procedure for reporting a suspected incident of abuse that conforms to the requirements of state law and will be prepared to respond if an incident should occur. While the primary reason for this policy is to prevent abuse and neglect of children and youth, it has been adopted to protect all who enter our doors.
The following procedures govern issues of Staffing, Safety, Security, Conduct, Supervision, First Aid, Travel, Reporting Abuse and dealing with Child Sex Offenders.
ALL ADULTS –
volunteering with children and youth will have been an active participant in this church/community for at least six months before assuming the volunteer assignment in Children and Youth Ministry. Community membership is having a sense of belonging and a feeling of community participation adds meaning, value and purpose to the lives of all.
Anyone supervising children and youth will be required to review and complete an application packet, and be willing to submit, to a background check involving misdemeanors, felonies (including, but not limited to drug related charges, child abuse, other crimes of violence, theft or motor vehicle violations), and drug screens. This information will remain confidential and be kept by the senior pastor in a secure location.
The VUMC Secretary, in the interest of protecting privacy and confidentiality, will do checks on all staff and volunteers and sign up for e-mail alerts to ensure we are adhering to “Jessica’s Law”.
FIVE YEAR AND OLDER RULE: All adults who supervise children or youth directly should be at least 5 years older than the oldest child or youth and a member in good standing for at least 6 months. This procedure does not prohibit youth from participating in activities as counselors or helpers.
“RULE OF TWO”: If possible, a minimum of two persons should be present for any church sponsored program or event involving children/ youth. If the rule of two is not possible, the door to the classroom must remain open or have a glass panel. In addition, one person, designated as a “roamer”, will make unscheduled visits to check on all classrooms or areas.
THE BUDDY SYSTEM: Children at all times must be supervised by a responsible person (see rules two and three above) to lessen the likelihood of any situation that could result in injury, abuse, or neglect. We ask that when any child needs to leave the sanctuary he/she be accompanied by a parent. It is the responsibility of parents to supervise their children at all times:
– When not in the care of teachers or volunteers
– When going to the restroom
– When playing on the playground or ball field
TRAINING: All paid or volunteer teaching/ supervising staff working with children/ youth must be trained annually in the safe sanctuary policies and procedures before teaching or supervising. Continuing education will be provided as needed by the Safe Sanctuary Coordinators. Background checks to be done every 4 years.
OPEN-DOOR COUNSELING: At any counseling session (for children and youth), the pastor, youth director, or mentor will keep the door of the room open during the entire session. When it is not possible for an adult to leave a room to speak with a youth/child privately, it is recommended that the youth/child is pulled aside in the room and quietly spoken to. Allowing the child/youth privacy and dignity while at the same time adhering to the Safe Sanctuary requirements in this document.
B. SAFETY AND FIRST AID
After an injury or incident that needed first aid or an ER or doctors visit, it is important that an Accident Report Form be filled out as soon as possible and handed in to the Office. The Pastor and Head of the particular ministry should be notified.
FIRST AID KITS: The church will maintain 4 first aid kits, one kept in the Fellowship Hall kitchen, one in the upstairs education corridor, one in the downstairs education corridor, and one for the church van, to be kept in the Secretaries office and be handed over with the keys to the van. the chairperson of the Nurture Committee or their designee (Staff Parish Nurse or delegate) will be responsible for maintaining these first aid kits. First aid kits will be amended to include 4 blood borne pathogen kits.
CPR TRAINING: The church will offer a course in CPR/ First Aid annually for staff and volunteers, especially those working with children/ youth and older adults. The chairperson of the Nurture Committee or their designee will be responsible for implementing this training event.
FIRE: Fire evacuation routes will be posted and the Trustees will maintain fire extinguishers and smoke alarms annually. We will initiate a yearly fire drill during the church school hour.
AGE AND ACTIVITY APPROPRIATE EQUIPMENT: Adult supervisors should examine the safety and appropriateness of the equipment they are using in the nursery, classrooms, fellowship hall and play ground.
PERMISSION AND INSURANCE: Travel from the church or overnight travel must have written permission and insurance information, as well as unique medical needs for a child from a parent or guardian of each child/ youth, and when necessary, the approval of the pastor. The permission/ medical information file must stay with the coordinator for the entire trip.
THE RULE OF TWO ADULTS must be followed with no exceptions when traveling.
TRANSPORTATION will be provided for youth group activities located away from church grounds, utilizing the church van or other approved method of transportation.
OVERNIGHT RETREATS OR MISSION TRIPS: Think through the advantages and disadvantages of ministry settings and situations, as abuse can happen in a variety of circumstances. Review the attached sheet for Western N.C. Conference Youth Events Safe Sanctuaries Procedures.
– The Trustees are responsible for the approval of van drivers. Persons with a known medical condition that could potentially cause harm or injury should not drive the van with passengers.
– All passengers must wear seat belts at all times.
– One person in the van should carry a cell phone is case of emergency.
– A First Aid kit must be in the Van when it departs from the church.
– Current county and state maps will be kept in the van. [Use of GPS?]
D. REPORTING ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE:
Any person who suspects or receives a complaint alleging that a child or youth has been subjected to neglect or abuse (physical, sexual, or other abuse), must report it immediately to the Pastor, or the chairperson of the Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC)
1. DUTY TO REPORT: If there is a reasonable cause to believe that abuse has occurred (by a family member or non-family member); the Pastor or Chairperson of the PPR shall communicate the complaint to both the County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Social Services as required by the North Carolina General Statutes. In the event that the Pastor is implicated, the Chairperson of the Administrative Council must notify the PPR Chairperson.
2. INCIDENT REPORT: The pastor or the SPRC Chairperson to whom the incident has been reported must immediately cause an incident report to be filled out with all available details. Report forms will be kept in the church office.
3. THE DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT must be notified by the next business day. It will then be the decision of the District Superintendent, Pastor, and/ or SPRC Chairperson as to the appropriate action to be taken. The District Superintendent shall have final local authority in the matter.
4. SPOKESPERSON: All persons at the church must refrain from speaking to the press or media! The District Superintendent will respond to allegations of abuse (refer to Safe Sanctuaries, chapter 5) unless he/she authorized someone else.
5. THE ALLEGED OFFENDER: Any person named as an alleged offender should not be confronted with hostility, but shall immediately be required to cease any contact with children or youth through VUMC activities. The alleged offender may resume activities with youth and children at such time as the District Superintendent, Pastor, and SPRC Committee shall deem it appropriate.
6. CARING FOR THE VICTIM: Of foremost importance is the child who has or may have been harmed: he or she must be cared for and never be ignored or blamed for the abuse. The church family should respect the privacy of the victim and their family and provide opportunities for counseling as needed.
In all our ministries with children and youth, this congregation is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so that each person will be “surrounded by steadfast love, established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”
(From Congregational Pledge 2 of the UMC Baptismal Covenant II).
WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA UNITED METHODIST
“SAFE SANCTUARIES” PROCEDURES
The following procedures govern issues of Staffing, Housing, Medical Safety, Security, Conduct, Supervision, and Travel at Western North Carolina Conference Youth Events:
Adult and youth volunteer staff will be required to complete a volunteer application that will include at least two references (their pastor and/or adult youth coordinator at his/her church; plus one other adult).
Adult and youth volunteer staff will be required to complete a medical/insurance/behavior information form. These forms will be accessible during the event in case of accident, illness, or other emergency.
All youth staff under the age of 18 will be required to have written permission to participate from their parents.
Adult volunteer staff will be required to complete a permission form for background checks on criminal and DMV records.
References will be contacted and background checks will be done by the Office of Youth Ministries. Information obtained will be kept in a locked cabinet at eh WNC Conference Office. It will be updated every 3-5 years.
Churches must supply adult counselors for all their youth at every Conference Youth Event, with the exception of Choose2Share Christ and Exploration, where no adult counselors from the churches are needed. No volunteer staff will be used as counselors/chaperones for youth from local churches other than from their own church.
There will be a training session for all staff before each event at which time the “Safe Sanctuary” policy and procedures will be covered. Failure to comply with the “Safe Sanctuary” procedures may result in that staff person being sent home at his/her own expense, and not being allowed to serve on staff at other conference youth events.
When possible, youth (ages 11-18) will be housed separately from adults.
No youth shall be housed alone with an adult. There will be a minimum of three persons when youth and adults are housed in the same room.
No youth and adult shall share the same bed. In some instances, we use motel-style accommodations with two double beds per room. The youth will share one bed; the adult(s) the other bed.
Co-ed rooming is not permitted (except married couples and family units).
Where possible, Middle High Youth and Senior High Youth will be housed separately.
All event participants and staff will adhere to the curfew and covenant.
Participants from churches and event staff will be housed separately.
Each youth and adult attendee, including all staff, must submit a completed medical/insurance form. Minor’s forms must have parent’s original signature.
Group leaders should have a photocopy of all these medical forms in a file during travel to and from the event.
Medical forms will be kept on site for the duration of the event.
Licensed, certified medical staff will be available on site (i.e. E.M.T., nurse, doctor, and first responder).
First aid supplies will be available on site.
Counselors will be informed at registration and in counselors’ meetings where First Aid personnel can be found.
The Conference medical insurance coverage is supplemental, and does not cover snow or extreme sports.
Churches sending youth and adults to conference youth events must have adequate insurance coverage comprehensive from the time the church van leaves the parking lot, throughout the weekend, and until the safe return at the conclusion of the weekend. The church’s insurance policy should have coverage for abuse situations.
A written report will be completed in the case of any accident, medical emergency, or injury. Forms will be supplied to the medical staff at each event. They will be kept on file at the WNC Conference Office. Some facilities also require an accident form to be completed.
There will be security staff available at each youth event.
Security staff will be easily identifiable by their shirts or badges.
Counselors will be informed at registration and in counselor’s meetings where Security personnel can be found.
In the event of an incident, a detailed report will be completed and kept on file.
Anything considered illegal under civil law and criminal law in North Carolina is illegal for participants at a Western North Carolina Conference youth event. This includes issues related to tobacco use, drug use, alcohol consumption, and possession of firearms, weapons, or fireworks.
Visitation between males and females in hotel rooms or residence halls is prohibited unless directly supervised in a group setting by the group’s responsible adult for devotional or group discussion times.