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Safety Checklist for Your Church Nursery

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The following is a best-practice checklist to help you maintain a safe, secure environment for babies and toddlers in your church.

  • Ensure proper screening of all workers. This is the single most important safety measure you can take.
  • Use a secure check-in system. Computerized systems are convenient and can provide a range of safety features, such as unique security codes for each child, newly generated each time they are checked in.
  • Have a procedure for communicating with parents as needed during services.
  • Only allow screened workers to enter rooms, with the exception of nursing mothers or when a parent or guardian has been called to assist with a child.
  • Install video cameras in each room. Have a policy for reviewing and keeping footage.
  • Have diapering/restroom policies that virtually eliminate any opportunity for improper behavior, including the following:
    • Only allow females to change diapers and assist in bathrooms.
    • Require two staff members to be present during diapering and bathroom breaks.
    • When children reach age 3, discontinue direct bathroom assistance. Staff may simply provide supervision and assist with hand washing. If a child needs help, a parent may be called.
    • Never allow children and workers to use the same restroom facilities at the same time.
    • Follow the “two-adult rule.” At no time should a child be left alone with an adult or other minor.
  • Maintain recommended child/worker ratios as recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children:
    • Infants birth-15 months—1:3 for a group of 6 and 1:4 for a group of 8.
    • Toddlers 12-28 months—1:3 for a group of 6 and 1:4 for a group of 8 to 12.
    • Toddlers 21-36 months—1:4 for a group of 8; 1:5 for a group of 10; 1:6 for a group of 12.

Watch: Risk Mgmt LIVE: Why Background Checks Are Not Enough

Emergencies

  • Appoint a safety and security team who is responsible for establishing policies and procedures for emergencies. It’s highly recommended to involve local law enforcement.
  • Post tornado/fire evacuation routes clearly in every room.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • Utilize walkie talkies to communicate easily and quickly with the security team.
  • Provide classroom doors that can be locked from the inside in the event of a lockdown, such as in an armed shooter situation.

Watch: Risk Mgmt LIVE: Emergency Operations Plans for Churches
nursery safety

General:

  • Train workers in proper hand washing and food handling protocols.
  • Post hand washing instructions in restrooms and diapering areas.
  • Post diapering hygiene instructions. Many churches require workers to wear gloves during diapering.
  • Provide diaper disposal containers, and empty regularly.
  • Follow recommended procedures for disinfecting toys and diaper areas.
  • Cover outlets.
  • Install child safety locks.
  • Ensure all cribs and other equipment are compliant with federal regulations.
  • Follow recommended crib bedding guidelines and SIDS prevention methods. For the most up-to-date information, visit www.AAP.org.
  • Maintain adequate liability insurance coverage at all times.

Watch: Risk Mgmt LIVE: Church Liability Coverage (part 1)

While this list is not exhaustive, it does provide a good starting point in making a secure environment that gives peace of mind to parents and church leaders. For more information about protecting kids and reducing church risk, call 866.621.1787 or email me at jsparks@agfinancial.org.

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