Planning for SAFE SANCTUARIES & IMPLEMENTING THE PLAN Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church for Children and Youth SO, WHY ARE YOU HERE? SO, HOW IS IT GOING? • Knowledge of Policies and Procedures – Brief Quiz • Church Accessibility Plan – How is your church doing? LET’S GET REAL WHY DO IT? Let’s take a few minutes to get some sobering facts from a video produced by the Church Mutual Insurance Company. This video is available free of charge. Information about how to order it follows. Resources for Churches Also, Church Mutual Insurance Company’s free Resources: Safety Tips on a Sensitive Subject: Child Sexual Abuse - Safety Videos Safety Tips on a Sensitive Subject: Child Sexual Abuse – The Protection Series Booklets Can order them on line at www.churchmutual.com We Have a Biblical Mandate to Protect Matthew 18:5-6 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. BAPTISMAL COVENANT, UMC WE PROMISE… With God’s help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to eternal life. A Church’s Statement of Commitment acknowledges: Children in our care need to be safe We have a biblical command that is Reflected in our baptismal covenant. Peninsula Delaware Conference Resolution 2008 To protect staff, volunteers and churches from false abuse allegations Guidelines, Procedures & Timeline • Guidelines tell the congregation what will be expected of all members • Procedures advise just how to fulfill expectations • Timelines let people know that there is a window of time for learning & coming to agreements, but there is an expectation that we will do this important work The bottom line is . . . Risk • Risk of harm: irrevocable, difficult to heal • Risk of reputation for: persons or a congregation • Risk of loss of physical assets: building, funds, property What does it mean to mitigate risk? To mitigate is to stop, impede, prevent against… Think about your homeowner’s insurance: • Of course you will insure your home against fire, theft, accidents If you lived on a flood plain, wouldn’t you insure against flood damage or destruction? What is due diligence & why is it necessary? Churches live on the flood plain of human interaction & sin • People are fragile & subject to temptation • We now understand that problems in families of origin often play out in adult hood • Some depressed or disconnected people& seek gratification from those more vulnerable • Churches are filled with imperfect & often hurting people • Some people wander into bad behavior & some seek easy access to vulnerable people No congregation can afford either financially, ethically or spiritually, to fail to implement strategies for the reduction and prevention of the abuse of its children and youth Joy Thornburg Melton What if we still don’t agree this is necessary? • Many insurance companies no longer insure churches who don’t have risk reduction strategies. • “Entitlement” mentality in today’s society results in lawsuits for allegations – true or false. • The church is considered negligent if an incident should occur and no plan is in place. • The church loses members, unity of its membership, reputation and thousands of dollars. BREAK 10 MINUTES Commonly Asked Questions about Basic Procedures for Safe Ministry Recruiting, Screening, Hiring How can we get enough adults to help with children & youth? 1. Does your congregation need to talk about whether they want children & youth? 2. Maybe children’s programs should be offered at times different from other ministries. 3. Some congregations have hired nursery workers & then sought 1 volunteer. What to do about people who refuse to be screened. • Screening is an effective way to ensure that a person with something to hide is not serving. • There is no compromise on this requirement in today’s litigious society. • A person who refuses to be screened may not have the heart you need for youth ministry. • Ensure that you have a confidential process for storing the information from screenings. Refusal do everything possible to keep children safe is the same as: • Teenagers thinking they are invincible • Putting money in the bank without deposit insurance • Burying your head in the sand • Going out in the rain and hoping you won’t get wet. Why do we have to have two unrelated adults? • For the same reason we have two unrelated people counting our money. Which is more precious? Our money or our children? • Have you considered hiring a 2nd adult to work alongside one volunteer? One church hired their cleaning lady for Sundays . Consistency of care can be helpful to young children. One church found a local day care Mom who could use the stipend offered. She joined their church. Windows on doors will cost too much! • Secret places invite secrets! • Develop a plan to purchase one door at a time. • Perhaps the Memorial Fund? • Challenge members to buy a door for the safety of the children! • One pastor took the doors off until the doors could be replaced. Why can’t our college students help with the high school youth? Youth workers should be at least 5 years older than those they supervise because . . . • They are vulnerable to acting like one of the teens and not a grown up • Temptation is perhaps greater for a younger person who has not experienced the consequences of giving in to temptation. What do they mean by adequate & appropriate care? • In today’s world it is considered irresponsible to care for youth without some basic knowledge of first Aid or CPR. That will be the standard for a lawsuit brought against the church. • Would you place your newborn child in a crib that does not meet 2010 safety standards? This is the principle of Appropriate Equipment. Fifty year old chairs that fold & pinch would not be adequate. Tables that might collapse or have pointy corners that could injure child would not meet the standard of due diligence. What do they mean by adequate insurance? • Church insurance policies should be reviewed annually to ensure coverage is up to date. A $50,000 award in 1960 would have been amazing, more like $500,000 today! • Annual orientation for ministry workers is an addition to your insurance policy – you mitigate risk when everyone is honoring the policy! What is meant by Respect for Families? • Advance notice to parents/guardians before outings • Parent and family education Developing a Policy in the Local Church Who should be on the Implementation Team & the SAFE TEAM Roles in the Local Church • Staff/Pastor Parish Relations – help with training and implementation of the policy and procedures. Provide support for pastor’s leadership role. • Lay Leadership – help with recruiting issues; schedule training. • Christian Education leaders – commitment; designate those who can recruit for ministries with children/youth; monitoring. • Sunday School Superintendent - charged with safety of all children/youth as well as teachers/leaders. • Trustees – Risk managers, insurance, legal responsibilities, facilities requirements. What Needs to be Done? To assess what needs to be done in your church, suggested tools include: The Local Church Self-Evaluation Form The Safe Sanctuaries assessment for local churches in the Pen-Del Conference Your Trustees accessibility survey. Your current insurance policy The books & CD mentioned earlier today. What are reasonable timelines? Allow adequate time for a congregation to be informed about the policy & practices. One year is reasonable if you have just established your policy. One congregation targeted 10 months, extended to 13 and then to 17 months. Keep the team meeting to ensure timelines are met! How do we create a Safe Sanctuaries Implementation Plan? Review Sample: Safe Sanctuaries Implementation Plan: One Church’s Experience Remember that you do not need to start from scratch, borrow, but then personalize it to your church & engage members in that process. Do you have ideas for sharing information with our Congregation? • Safe Sanctuary training sessions for church leaders • Newsletter articles • Bulletin board displays • Church announcements • Administrative/Church council meetings • Ministry Covenant meetings • Other ideas? How do we create necessary forms? Tools: Some of the forms reviewed here are also included in the forms section of Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church for Children and Youth by Joy Thornburg Melton Sample forms include: – Employment Application – Form for Reference Check – Information about PACT’s Background Check Service – Safe Sanctuaries Participation Covenant Statement You do not need to reinvent the wheel! Borrow! Review! Personalize! Why do we need a brochure? To Share info With Congregation & Visitors See Brochure Handout: This is one example of a brochure that can be created to share information with the congregation and visitors about the church’s policy. Final Questions Closing Prayer Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.