Christ First United Methodist Church

Friday, 22 February 2019

Safety Policy

Christ First UMC Safe Sanctuaries Policy

The Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church adopted a resolution asking each congregation to develop a Safe Sanctuaries Policy to reduce the risk of abuse of children, youth and vulnerable adults participating in our ministry. The Staff Parish Relations Committee has worked over the last several months to develop a written Safety Policy for our church as well as a written Response and Reporting Plan that describes how we will respond if there is an incident. These documents were approved by the Church Council at its March meeting.

The Safety Policy defines terms, gives guidelines for volunteers and employees working with children, lists requirements for a safe physical surrounding, describes what to do when transporting children and describes the permission forms needed for events that involve children or vulnerable adults. Listed below are the major highlights of this policy:

  • The “Two-Person Rule” shall apply. This means there shall always be two unrelated adults present at a church sponsored activity involving children or vulnerable adults. The second adult can be provided by an adult “roamer” who moves in and out of rooms. Adults must be 18 years of age or older. At no time shall one adult and one child be left alone together.
  • Volunteers working as the primary supervisor of children must be at least 18 years of age. Those under 18 years of age wishing to assist must be 5 years older than the oldest child being supervised.
  • Volunteers must complete the Volunteer Application Working with Children Form. Assistants under the age of 18 must have the co-signature of a parent or guardian.
  • Volunteers and employees working with children must agree to abide by the Safety Policy, the complete copy of which will be provided to them. They must give written consent for a criminal background check. This could include a County and National criminal check, Dept. of Motor Vehicles report, NYS Sex Offender Registry and a Social Security Number validation. The background check shall be performed by the Office Manager or the Pastor.
  • Volunteers and employees working with children must attend a Child Abuse prevention and detection training class every 2 years. Our church will either offer this training or provide the dates and times where this training is available.
  • Adults transporting children or vulnerable adults must have a valid driver’s license, be at least 21 years of age and at least 5 years older than the oldest child. The vehicle’s inspection and registration must be current and there must be seat belts for every child.

The Two Person Rule may be suspended for the purposes of transportation, but it is mandatory that the parent or guardian be informed at the time of departure of the estimated time of arrival. It is recommended that the child or vulnerable adult sit in the back seat of the vehicle.

The important thing to note about the Response and Reporting Plan is that any incident must be reported immediately to the person in charge of the ministry activity and to the pastor. The person in charge of the ministry activity shall also immediately talk to the pastor and shall call the NYS Child Protective Services Hotline at 800-342-3720. If the accused is a clergy person or member of their family, the allegations shall be immediately reported to the District Superintendent at 716-665-2423.

Complete copies of the Safety Policy and the Response and Reporting Plan are on file in the church office. Please remember that our goal is to ensure the safety of all children and vulnerable adults in our care. They are precious to us and to God. We must do everything we can to protect them.

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