Adopted by the Board of NWUU Church on 9/12/13
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It shall be the goal of NWUU to provide a safe environment for the physical and emotional well-being of all children participating in activities. The organization’s goal is to inform volunteers and enforce policies to ensure that all children are safe and well protected at all church related activities.
Future revisions to this policy may be made with the authorization of both the Minister and the Board.
2. Definition of “children”
The term “child” or “children” shall include all persons under the age of eighteen (18) years.
3. Pre-employment procedures for paid and volunteer workers
It is the goal of NWUU to adequately screen the application of persons desiring to work with children participating in all programs.
4. Classification of volunteers
In order to screen volunteers appropriately for their responsibilities, the Board has designated volunteers into two categories: primary and secondary. These terms refer to the relative levels of responsibility and risk, not to the ages of the children being served.
Primary volunteers: Teachers and youth leaders who are here during program hours, plus those volunteers in roles with greater responsibility or risk are classified as primary workers. These volunteers should meet the primary screening standards. All paid staff members shall also met the primary screening standards.
Secondary volunteers: Includes persons who occasionally interact with children and/or do so in less risky circumstances, i.e.: volunteers who interact with children in the presence of an approved primary worker, such as substitute teachers, are classified as secondary volunteers. This category may also include parent participants who help supervise activities. All volunteers under the age of twenty-six (26) will be considered secondary volunteers.
5. Minimum age
All primary volunteers must be twenty-six (26) years of age or older. Younger persons may assist primary volunteers, but may not take the place of primary volunteers. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the DRE.
6. Six-month rule
No volunteer will be allowed primary volunteer status until they have been an active participant of NWUU for a minimum of six (6) months. The applicant must have been a regular attendee and involved in activities for that period of time. This time of interaction between our leadership and the applicant allows for better evaluation of suitability of the applicant for working with children.
The six-month rule may be waived with the authorization of the Minister or DRE, as in the case of a new staff member.
7. Volunteer applications
Volunteer applicants must complete and sign an Application for Volunteers Who Will Work with Children.
Applications will be submitted to the DRE who will be responsible for the interview process and reference checks.
NWUU keeps all information received in the applicant selection process confidential. Such information will be stored with access afforded only to appropriate staff on a need-to-know basis.
If NWUU learns of false, misleading or amended information on an application that could cause potential danger to children or liability to NWUU, that volunteer will not be permitted to work with children.
The Chair of the Personnel Committee must check and document at least three (3) references for each staff member prior to employment. The DRE must conduct a reasonable inquiry into the character of primary and secondary volunteers. References may be checked by phone, mail, e-mail, or in person.
Whenever possible, the three references should include:
- a person who has known the applicant for an extended period
- a former or current supervisor
- a member of the applicant’s immediate family
9. Volunteer interviews
All applicants desiring to work with children must be interviewed for suitability for the work they desire to do. The DRE will conduct interviews. The NWUU Child Protection Policy will be discussed during the interview or at a teacher training and prior to the start of any work with children.
10. Criminal background check
A criminal background check and child abuse registry check shall be required for all staff and primary volunteer positions. No one who has been convicted of a crime involving misconduct with children will be allowed to work with children. Completing the Application for Volunteers Who Will Work with Children authorizes the organization to conduct these checks. Background checks will be kept confidential in a locked file with access afforded only to appropriate staff on a need-to-know basis.
The Office Administrator or DRE will conduct criminal background checks. If any information is learned that could cause potential danger to children or liability to NWUU, that volunteer will not be permitted to work with children.
11. Vehicle safety
Persons who transport children must maintain a current valid state driver’s license and provide proof of insurance in accordance with Michigan statutory limits. Volunteers with a record of unsafe driving will not be allowed to drive children.
12. First aid training
It will be the goal of NWUU that paid employees who work with children will maintain current certification in basic first aid and basic CPR (or the equivalent) as required by applicable licensing requirements or other local regulations. NWUU will pay the cost of the training. Employees will be paid for attending training. Volunteers are encouraged, but not required to get training.
13. Identification of volunteers
All employees or primary volunteers must be photographed and copies of those photographs kept in their personnel file.
14. Identification badges
All employees and volunteers, both primary and secondary, are required to wear a nametag whenever they are supervising children. These tags will be provided by NWUU and will show the volunteer’s name.
15. Acknowledgement of NWUU Child Protection Policy
All applicants must acknowledge in writing that they understand NWUU’s policies pertaining to the protection of children and that they agree to abide by them. This requirement will be met by having applicants sign the Acknowledgement of Receipt form.
It is the policy of NWUU to provide adequate supervisory control of persons working with children participating in all programs. The following regulations shall be applicable to all primary and secondary volunteers having contact with children:
16. Safety of children
It is the responsibility of all persons having contact with children to promote the emotional and physical safety of the participants. If in their opinion, an unsafe condition exists, such persons shall immediately take appropriate precautions to protect all children. Nothing contained in any other policy, procedure or instruction shall relieve persons having contact with children from this responsibility. All volunteers will familiarize themselves with the emergency evacuation routes posted in the classroom and be prepared to lead their class outside to safety.
17. Preschool identification system
To reduce the possibility of kidnapping, NWUU will have in place an identification system so that the adults who drop off a small child are the same adults who pick the child up. The person in charge shall maintain the system to identify persons authorized to pick up and take responsibility for preschool children leaving an activity. The identification system will not be necessary for children above preschool age unless a parent specifically requests it in writing.
18. Two adult rule
It is the policy of NWUU that a minimum of two volunteers or staff will be in attendance at all times when children are being supervised regardless of the number of participants, location or activity. At least one of these must be a primary volunteer. These two adults cannot be related to one another. Exceptions may be made by the Youth Programs Committee and the Minister and in such cases the volunteers must have taught for at least a year.
The two adult rule may be suspended when babysitting services are offered for parents who will remain in the building. In such cases, the caretaking may be performed by older children who, in the eyes of the Minister or DRE are sufficiently mature to supervise the younger children.
19. Observation of children
Activities for children should be scheduled in areas visible from adjoining areas. Reasonable exceptions to this rule may be made by the DRE where privacy is necessary, provided two unrelated volunteers are present in the room at all times.
At no time will an adult meet alone with a child in an area where they cannot be seen, with the exception of the Minister.
20. Ratio of volunteers to children
The DRE shall be primarily responsible for setting and maintaining a reasonable ratio of volunteers to children giving due regard to all factors present, including the number and age of the participants, the nature of the activities and the location where the activities are taking place.
21. Volunteer training
Each volunteer will be given a copy of the NWUU Child Protection Policy. They must sign a statement indicating they have received and read it before they can begin working with children. Each year, the DRE will schedule a teacher training session to acquaint the volunteers with the curricula, children to be under their care, rules and policies and location of supplies.
22. Volunteer oversight
The DRE or her official designee provides ongoing supervision of the volunteers during church sponsored religious education classes and events. This includes monitoring classroom activities through the clear door panels and regular unannounced visits into classes and other program sites.
23. Awareness of church policy
The DRE shall periodically review the definition of child abuse and neglect as defined by law and NWUU’s policy concerning these crimes. These reviews can be conducted either with the volunteers individually or in groups, at least once a year and following each change in or addition to such policies. Each volunteer shall acknowledge receipt of a written copy of the policy prior to the time they commence working with children and after each change to such policy. Each volunteer shall acknowledge participating in the periodic review of NWUU’s policies and procedures. The signed acknowledgements shall be retained in the permanent file of the volunteer.
24. Child pickup
Children who are fourth grade or older may be dismissed to go to their parents in the building at the end of a class or activity. Younger children will be kept in the classroom or area of activity by volunteers until a parent or guardian picks up the child or a volunteer brings the child to the parent/guardian. No child shall be allowed to leave or be taken from NWUU property, either unattended or in a group without specific parental permission.
25. Release of claims
Prior to any activity away from NWUU’s grounds, a Release of Claims must be signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian. Without the form signed and in the possession of NWUU, the child will not be allowed to participate in the off-site activity.
REPORTING & RESPONDING TO ALLEGED CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT
26. Reporting policy
It is the policy of NWUU to report any incident of abuse (including sexual abuse) or neglect toward any child. This would also include participants in temporary childcare programs. Our policy includes:
- Do not treat any suspicion as frivolous.
- Notify the DRE or Minister immediately. The DRE should suspend the accused person from the performance of duties involving children until the official investigation has been completed.
- Cooperate fully with law enforcement officials.
- In an instance where child abuse is confirmed, NWUU will immediately dismiss the worker from his/her position. Termination will be considered appropriate in the circumstances.
- In instances where evidence is inconclusive, NWUU should take action with the advice of legal counsel in consultation with law enforcement officials depending on the strength of the evidence available and after consideration of the victim and the victim’s family’s requests.
- The Minister or DRE, in consultation with legal counsel, will determine the amount of information that is appropriate to relate to the Board and NWUU membership. Usually commenting in detail on an ongoing investigation is not wise.
27. Reporting obligation
Anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is being physically abused, sexually abused, or neglected is required to report this information. Any suspected abuse shall be reported to the Minister or DRE immediately. The Minister or DRE is then responsible to report this information to the appropriate agency.
28. Reports required
Any volunteer of NWUU who has cause to believe that a child’s physical or emotional health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect shall report that belief according to the following procedure:
- The volunteer shall report such belief to the Minister or DRE.
- The Minister or DRE will immediately report the incident to either the local Child Abuse Hotline or the local law enforcement agency.
- A written report (Form DHS-3200) should be mailed into DHS within 72 hours.
- The Minister or DRE will notify the parents of the child (unless the parent is the person responsible for the abuse or neglect).
- The Minister or DRE, in consultation with the Moderator, will notify the appropriate legal counsel.
- The Moderator will notify NWUU’s insurance agent that an abuse report has been filed with the appropriate local or state agency.
29. Incident report
The person making a report should identify:
- The name and address of the child.
- The name and address of the person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child.
- Any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect.
All reports of child abused or neglect shall be held in absolute confidence. No person shall communicate any information concerning the alleged event to any person except as necessary to cooperate with any official investigation. The Minister, DRE, or an officer of NWUU, in consultation with the official conducting the investigation, may authorize limited additional disclosure if necessary to protect other children from harm in the near future, particularly where the person responsible for the abuse cannot be identified. In no case shall the identity of the victim or the accused person be disclosed except as required by law.
31. Investigation of alleged abuse or neglect
No volunteer or staff shall attempt to conduct a detailed investigation either through examination or interrogation of the child, the accused person or a witness. It is acceptable to obtain a reasonable amount of information to have cause to believe a child has been abused or neglected. Interviews shall be conducted only by authorized officials of the agency to whom the suspected crime has been reported or, when appropriate, by legal counsel or persons representing NWUU in an official capacity. All employees and volunteers shall cooperate with the official investigation as required.
32. Suspension of duties
A person accused of child abuse or neglect will be suspended from all duties involving children. This would include all childcare, teaching, transportation or sponsorship duties. The Board is not authorized to conduct an investigation of the incident but is allowed to monitor any such investigation and receive confidential information concerning the incident as may be necessary to determine issues concerning continuation of employment and compensation. The person accused should be suspended on ‘paid leave’ until the investigation is completed. This removal from duty should occur in such a way that an innocent person is not immediately deemed guilty. There are false claims made each year. If the allegation is determined to be unsubstantiated, the employee can be returned to their prior position.
33. Preservation of records
Copies of all documents relating to an event of abuse or neglect, including a list of all persons known to be present or in the vicinity shall be transferred to the Minister or designate. They will review them to determine if the documents are complete in accordance with NWUU’s policy. If any documents are missing, they shall make a written notation and transfer the documents to the DRE who shall retain them until advised that all criminal and civil investigations and actions have been completed.
34. Ministerial care
The Minister and DRE may encourage and assist the child and the parents in securing appropriate counseling, care and support. In the event the abuse or neglect involves a volunteer or employee of NWUU, the staff shall encourage and assist the individual in securing appropriate care and support, including third-party counseling, being mindful of the potential for a conflict of interest.
35. Liaison with the community
The Minister, or the Minister’s appointed agent, will serve as NWUU’s sole access to the media. NWUU should emphasize to the public its position on child abuse, its concern for the victim and the extensive steps being taken to address the safety of all children.
Revised 5 Sep 2013