We are grateful to God for the privilege of welcoming and including children into the life and ministry of The Falls Church Anglican. Providing care and Biblical instruction to youngsters is a holy calling, and our church community is committed to doing all that it can to ensure a safe, positive and rewarding experience for children participating in church activities. The joy of ministry to children includes the responsibility of protecting them from harm. Protecting the children in our care, the reputation of the adults who serve those children, and the ministry of The Falls Church Anglican (TFCA) requires specific precautions and processes. The policies and procedures included in this brochure are reflected in all Children & Family Ministry (CFM) activities. All activities or events serving children at the church must be in compliance with these guidelines.
All church employees must complete The Falls Church Anglican's Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse training and undergo a background check.
All adult volunteers who work regularly with children must complete the Kid Connection Leader Information form and the Permission for Background Check form. These forms help screen volunteers and authorize background checks necessary to ensure the adults serving children have nothing in their personal history or experience that would preclude them from working with kids. Anyone with a criminal history involving crimes against children will not be allowed to work with children at TFCA.
All volunteers working with children must attend the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse or Keeping Kids Safe training. The Director of Children & Family Ministry or his/her designee will advise volunteers about which training is required.
Anyone who provides child care at the church must be authorized by the Director of Children & Family Ministry or his/her designee.
Classes and nametags are organized in specific ways to ensure child safety:
- No classes or meetings with children may be held behind windowless, closed doors. If a classroom does not have a window in the door, the door should be left partially open at all times.
- The outer doors of bathrooms that children regularly use should be propped open.
- An adult should never be alone in an isolated area with a single child. If an adult needs to talk one-on-one with a child, it should be done in an open area, such as a hallway.
- Classes or child care should regularly have two or more adults in the room.
- Volunteers should avoid giving gifts to children without the prior knowledge of the parents. Modest gifts to the whole group or small contest prizes awarded openly are fine.
- Adults should never be alone in a car with a child other than their own.
- At least two unrelated adults should be present at any out-of-class event.
- Parents/adult guardians are always welcome in a class or program. No activity is closed or private.
Child Safety Procedures
The following procedures are required for safely managing the needs of children while they are involved in a church activity:
Sunday Morning Pick-Up And Drop-Off
- Babies in the Nursery will only be released to whomever has the laminated security card for that child.
- Preschoolers are released only to an adult pictured on the photo I.D. badge. It is the parents’ responsibility to acquire and use the photo IDs.
- Children in Kindergarten—5th grade will only be released to the parent/adult guardian who dropped them at the classroom at the beginning of the program.
- All visiting children pre-K—5th grade must sign-in at the Children’s Welcome Center. Visiting preschoolers and their parent/adult guardian are given a nametag, each with a matching number on it. Preschool children will only be released to the person who has the tag with the matching number. Elementary-age visitors receive a plain nametag.
- Parents and children should be greeted by a volunteer or member of the CFM staff at the classroom door or other barrier. In general, parents/adult guardians should not enter the classroom or Nursery space. The volunteer or CFM staff will usher the child into the classroom. In the Nursery, babies should be handed over the barrier. Similarly, a volunteer should stand at the classroom door to release the children.
Pick-Up and Drop-Off Other Than Sunday
Children must be signed in at the door and a nametag made for the child. Parents/adult guardians should introduce themselves to the Child Care Providers and leaders.
Children are released only to the adult who dropped them off.
Children & Family Ministry staff, volunteers or paid Child Care Providers should encourage children to do as much as they can for themselves. It is best for adults to take several children, or even the entire class, to the bathroom at the same time. Volunteers or paid Child Care Providers should stand in the hall and monitor the activity of the children in the bathroom. Children who are kindergarten-age and up can go to the bathroom in pairs without an adult accompanying them.
Children & Family Ministry volunteers and parent helpers on Sunday should turn necessary diaper changing over to a paid Child Care Provider. Universal precautions will be followed including the use of exam gloves.
Notices outlining diaper changing procedures are posted in the Nursery area and should be followed by anyone providing child care.
The best method for handling discipline is prevention of problems. Adults supervising children should always have a plan for activities that will keep the children positively occupied. Adults leading activities for children need to communicate behavioral expectations clearly and repeatedly. We have one rule – love one another. This means children are expected to listen well, follow instructions, and express kindness and respect to others. Physical violence of any kind is strictly prohibited.
If a child is not able to interact with other children or adult leaders in a positive way, the child should be reminded about what is and is not allowed and why. Children need to be encouraged toward making good and godly choices on their own. If problems persist, the child can be removed from the activity or group for a time out. Younger children can often be redirected into another activity.
If a child is disruptive during a group activity, these steps are often helpful:
- Continue the lesson, but look directly at the child.
- Continue the lesson, but move near the child.
- Continue the lesson, but gently place a hand on the child’s shoulder.
- Pause the lesson, and look directly at the child, use name.
- Move the child to another place in the group.
- Talk one-on-one or have a helper talk one-on-one with the child.
- Take the child from the room to the supervisor.
Adults should treat children kindly and respectfully. They should not hit, spank or verbally denigrate a child in any way. However, children’s misbehavior should not be ignored. If a child’s actions are repeatedly disrespectful or harmful to others, the parent/guardian should be called immediately. Parents should be regularly informed of behavior problems and any actions taken by the CFM staff, volunteers or paid Child Care Provider to correct behavior.
Church staff, volunteers or paid Child Care Providers should not ask children for hugs or any physical affection, but should receive it joyfully when it is given. Adults can feel free to pat a back, hold a hand, or put an arm around a child’s shoulder. Children need the opportunity to decline affection and children older than four should be asked for permission before they are picked up or given a side-hug. We don’t allow tickling, wrestling, sitting in laps, or playing “dog pile” with children.
Accident or Injury
When caring for a child’s injury, illness, or bathroom accident, exam gloves should be used. It is helpful for the adult to talk through with a young child what is being done and why, as they are being cleaned or bandaged. The incident should be reported to the parent and a member of the CFM staff. Sunday morning volunteers should turn accident or illness situations over to the Welcome Center Manager, volunteer Shepherd or member of the CFM staff.
Children’s activities should be observed regularly. On Sunday morning volunteers checking attendance and CFM staff will be in and out of the classrooms. The Children & Family Ministry Director will also be observing. These people are available to help with special needs, run errands, answer questions, or deal with specific children as well.
Non-Sunday Child Care
Child care is available to TFCA ministries only. All child care provided at the church must be discussed in advanced with the Director of Children & Family Ministry or his/her designee. This conversation must occur prior to announcing child care for an event/program. Whenever child care is provided at the church, a host from the TFCA ministry sponsoring the event must be available to supervise the care and teaching of the children. Without this representative, child care cannot be provided.
If a volunteer or paid Child Care Provider gets into a situation which could be misinterpreted, it should be reported to the Director of Children & Family Ministry immediately. Any observation of misconduct by a volunteer, paid Child Care Provider or member of the staff should be reported to the Director of Children & Family Ministry or one of the clergy immediately. No allegation or complaint will be ignored.