Thank you for your interest in volunteering to help us in our efforts to reach young people for the gospel and help us train them up in the way they should go. This is an amazing calling and a great ministry that can only work effectively when people like you lock arms with us to make it happen. So first of all, we want to say thank you for giving your time, energy, and heart to the work of pouring into our young people. This handbook is intended to give you the guidelines for how we approach this area of ministry to better protect and serve the children entrusted to our care.
Attendance: As with any ministry, attendance is crucial. It takes time to build rapport with children and parents, especially when we serve children who do not have much consistency in their lives. So if you commit to serving with us please be here if at all possible. Additionally, we ask volunteers to be in the ministry area at least thirty minutes prior to start time for a pre-game huddle.
Appearance: We want to model modesty to our children, so please wear clothing that will be appropriate during games when you will be actively moving, bending, and stretching. Also, we require all volunteers to wear their nametag lanyards. This is for safety reasons as well as for our children and parents to be able to easily identify their leaders.
Curriculum: Our goal is to build a foundation of biblical truth within our children’s lives, so please be prepared if you are teaching a lesson or facilitating discussion. We want you to let loose, have fun, sing aloud, and generate excitement. If you are not excited, our children will not be excited.
Interacting with Children
Pick-up/Drop off: While children are being dropped off, be excited and smile. Let our children and parents know we are excited to minister to them. Learn their names and engage in conversation with them. When parents pick their children up, show excitement and be willing to share with parents how much you enjoyed having their child in your group.
Visual Supervision: All children must be under supervision at all times (for specifics regarding bathroom see “Restroom Section”)
Your Words: Children will soak up your words and you can use them to speak life and encouragement or you can cause lifelong damage. Your words are a powerful tool – use them wisely!
Play with the kids. What makes game time even more fun is when children see their leaders having fun with them. There is no substitution for playing with kids. While playing with the children, please exercise appropriate play (see appropriate touch section for more details).
Listen. We will learn infinitely more by listening than speaking. When children take the time to share with you, give them your attention and listen to them. God has a blessing for us all if we will listen.
Discipline: The Three “R’s” Rule
Redirect. Meet the child at eye level, gently correct the inappropriate behavior, and redirect their attention.
Remove. If necessary, remove the child from the situation and place in a “time-out” within the room. One minute per year of age is the suggested amount of time.
Refer. If all else fails, refer the child to your ministry leader.
Remember: never place yourself or any child in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation. If a parent or guardian needs to be contacted, consult with the ministry leader and share what happened, what you did to resolve the issue, and the outcome of those actions.
Appropriate Touch: The Four “H’s” Rule
Hugs: Hugs are a natural response when a child is seeking affection. Please use “side hugs” when at all possible. In the event where a side hug cannot be used, follow the catch and release method.
High Fives: High fives are a great way to show encouragement and approval with children as young as twelve months old.
Hands: Handshakes or “fist-bumps” are a great way to greet children. Holding hands for the purpose of guiding younger children to their ministry area when it is needed is okay; however, it is not appropriate to hold hands with children older than 2ndgrade. Wrestling, Rough Housing, and Tickling are not appropriate in the Children’s Area.
Holding: Children older than 2ndgrade should never be picked up and held unless required for emergency transport. “Piggyback rides” and “horsey rides” are inappropriate for all ages. If a child older than 2ndgrade asks to sit on your lap, you should allow the child to sit next to you so that they can feel the comfort of closer proximity in an appropriate way.
Child Safety Protocols and Procedures
Never be alone with a child. We must have at minimum two volunteers at all times. Married couples count as one person for the purpose of this protocol.
Guest Passes are required for all volunteers and visitors without a certified background check on file. In order to receive a guest pass, visitors must meet at least one of the following criteria and follow protocol:
- They are the parent of a struggling child and desire to be in the classroom to assist. They may only interact with their child.
- They are the parent of a first-time visitor who desires to observe the program and/or to be present to help their child feel comfortable. The same rule applies: These guests are restricted to interaction only with their child.
- They are a friend or guest of a volunteer or from another church who desires to observe our children’s ministry program for the consideration of enrolling their child and/or serving in our ministry. These guests must be approved by the ministry leader.
Emergency Situations: While we will do everything in our power to ensure our children’s safety, accidents do occur. The following guidelines are for injuries and illness.
Injury: A Child Incident Report must be filled out for any injury that requires first aid or any head injury. The form must be completed, signed by the parent/guardian, and a copy must be made and given to the parent. The original copy will be given to the ministry leader. For minor injuries: you may perform basic first aid, but no medication of any kind should ever be given without parental consent.
Severe Injuries: In case of severe and/or life-threatening injuries or illness (including any type of head trauma) contact 911 and then the ministry leader immediately!
Wellness: Sick children do not need to be around other children. If sick children have already been dropped off or any child gets sick after being dropped off, please keep the child at a safe distance away from other children and volunteers and contact the ministry leader. For the safety of the children in our ministry areas and our volunteers, children with the following symptoms during the previous 24-hour period will be asked to stay with their parents:
- Fever of 100oF or higher
- Sore Throat
- Very runny nose or bad cough
- Any illness requiring antibiotics (must be on antibiotics at least 24 hours)
- Rash of unknown origin, or that causes the child discomfort
- Pink Eye
Sanitation: Please wash your hands: before and after eating, before handling snacks, before and after changing a diaper, after helping a child in the bathroom, and/or after wiping/blowing noses. This helps prevent the spread of germs.
Restroom Procedures: No one should ever take a child to the bathroom alone. Never take a child in a bathroom stall. As much as possible, when adults are taking children to the restroom, they should take only children of the same gender. Provide children with as much privacy as possible. If a child needs assistance, please do so where another leader can witness your actions.
Child Abuse: Anyone with evidence a child has been subject to any type of abuse should contact the police immediately. If you suspect a child is the victim of abuse, but do not have evidence or are unsure of the proper procedures, contact the ministry leader or a pastor immediately and request help dealing with the situation appropriately. If a child makes accusatory statements of abuse, DO NOT:
- Attempt to gather more information from the child.
- Attempt to speak with parents regarding your concerns.
- Talk with any other team members regarding your concerns.