CHILD SAFETY AND RISK MANAGEMENT.
Yep, I said it. Arguably the 4 most boring (or scary) words in children’s ministry. I get it, you sit in front of the computer at the beginning of every year (if we’re lucky) and think of all the possible ways children can injure themselves at your ministry, and then dream up ways to prevent/manage them. It’s time consuming…
So is pouring over volunteer application forms and blue card registries and children’s allergy lists. Unless you’re one of the few God blessed with the ability to get excited by excel spreadsheets and matrixes of data, then this side of children’s ministry bores (or scares) you to tears- if you even actually complete it!
I have thought it to myself, too, “I signed up to tell kids about Jesus, and spend time playing with them, teaching them and loving them! I am NOT a risk-management person! Why does this have to be MY job!?” And when I finally get around that thought, I sit down in front of the reams of paperwork and think, “This is TOO hard, how on earth do I get this done, and WHERE do I start?” Finally, even when it’s done, I put my pen down and think, “Well I hope we’re never audited or have an accident because I’m really not sure we’d pass…”
But here is the deal: Risk management and child safety are non-negotiable, fundamentally important aspects of our programs. For a start, if we aren’t compliant with legislation, not only are we putting our churches at risk of litigation, we are putting our teams of leaders at risk of the same. If we let our risk assessments and child safety slide, we are putting our kids at risk of danger – and that is exactly what Jesus instructs us not to do. Matthew 18:6 tells us that if anyone causes offense to a child, it would be better for them to have a millstone around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. Jesus takes child protection pretty seriously.
Risk assessments and child safety is like wearing a seatbelt. It is habit to put on your seatbelt when you get into the car because a) it is the law and b) you don’t want to go flying through the windscreen of the car in an accident. You don’t wear it because every time you get in the car you know you’ll need it – rather, you wear it because you never know when you will. You don’t want the one time you forgot it to be the time you slam into the car in front, and you certainly better hope that if that happens, that you had it clicked in properly. (None of this wearing-it-under-your-arm nonsense). Child safety is the same. It should be habit. It should be done every time you get behind the wheel of children’s ministry – because it’s the law, and because it will help you should you have an accident- and you never know what day that might be.
It’s foolish to think that we are under some sort of special exemption just because we belong to churches. If anything, we should have a higher standard of child safety management, so that when people ask if they can trust us with their children, we can be sure that they can. Our churches should be lights to our community, places of hope and safety – not darkness and danger. And I know it’s hard, and time consuming and at times confusing- so we want to help.
Many of our churches use the “Child Safe” program – we encourage you. It is a very detailed and thorough program that covers all – above and beyond- the issues and requirements of our current child safety laws. Many of you, however, have expressed that ChildSafe is too much for your ministry, and you are a volunteer who has no experience with child safety, and don’t know how to comply with the law or keep your kids safe, because you’re unsure where to start.
SO HERE WE GO
To cater for churches who are unable to adopt ChildSafe for any reason, Queensland Baptists has produced an alternative risk management strategy that complies with the legislative requirements and is simpler to implement. A copy of this strategy can be obtained from Ken Conwell, our Professional Standards Officer (and all-round superhero). In addition, we have partnered with Baptist Insurance Services, and have come up with some tools to make it easier for you. We have simple, easy to read documents you can access to read all you need to know on how to comply with the law for child safety. We have also put together an example ‘risk management’ strategy matrix that you can download, use and adapt to suit your ministry, rather than try to start from scratch. We are doing all we can to help, because at the end of the day, we know that you really do want to be sitting on the floor playing with the kids, not at the desk filling out files – and we really do want you there too. So take these tools, and please let us help you keep your kids safe, so you can spend more time telling them about Jesus.
Footnotes: http://baptistinsurance.com.au/Risk-Management-For-Churches Check out this link for helpful resources you can download for free! • For more information on these forms, tools and resources, and more information about child safety and risk management for your children’s ministry, please contact Ken by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or me (Sally) at email@example.com
Post date: 04/02/2015 • Post Author: Sally Contessi