I’m an acutely cautious parent, borderline paranoid. With all the news of child abductions, sexual and physical abuse, and accidents resulting from gross negligence, why shouldn’t I be? I think it’s great that you serve the children in your church and community by offering a life-changing biblical experience, but any decent parent is not going to just drop off the most precious thing they have ever been given, without being perfectly satisfied that you have spent significant time developing and carefully implementing a solid safety plan. VBS planning is now in effect, so should the development of your policies and procedures concerning safety. Let me share with you the top safety concerns for VBS that most parents share.
10 Safety Concerns Parents Have for Vacation Bible School
1. Who is caring for my child?
In other words, what criteria do you use for choosing teachers and volunteers? A good application and interview process is a great start, but it will only take you so far in proving an individual’s qualifications. The screening process should also include reference and criminal background checks to ensure that their past is in line with their current intention to serve in children’s ministry.
2. Volunteer training and orientation
You’ve chosen some great volunteers but it doesn’t mean they are all trained childcare professionals or child safety experts. Proper training and orientation on safety procedures for each volunteer is a necessity.
3. What is your transition protocol?
I have two little wanderers so this is a concern for me. It’s one thing if you are going to leave them in the same classroom the entire time, but if you are moving them around from classroom, to playground, to group hall, etc., how are you going to get a population of globetrotters to their next destination?
4. What is your bathroom policy?
Whatever your restroom policy is, under no circumstance should a volunteer or teacher be alone in the bathroom with a child. NO EXCEPTIONS. This will protect both child and volunteer. If there is a bathroom emergency, ask a coordinator or manager to go in with you with the door propped open. You don’t have this as part of your policy? My child won’t be attending. Simple.
5. What is your daily check-in and check-out system for kids attending VBS?
Parents are looking for an orderly and fail-safe plan to protect their children from falling into the wrong hands. A unique identification to match child with parent or authorized adult, and a singe ID card for one parent or authorized adult will help maintain order at pick up time and ensure that the right child goes with the right authorized adult. No child can be released without the ID card matching with the child. Really think this through. It’s one of the most important procedures you will implement.
6. How do you handle kids with allergies?
I’ve got one of those too, he’s allergic to everything. Allergies and food intolerances are growing at an exponential rate and so is the need to accommodate them. Whether it’s with an arm band or a distinguishing feature on their name tag, properly “label” each allergic youngster with some kind of an alert; and of course, the method you choose means absolutely nothing if volunteers and other staff are not cautiously aware of them.
7. How do you handle medical issues and accidents?
Be sure you are aware of any relevant medical issues prior to receiving the child along with any activity restrictions. As with allergies these should be included on their person and volunteers need to be made aware to check on these things. Be sure to collect other emergency contact names and numbers in case mom and dad can’t be reached.
8. What is your emergency plan (campus wide)?
You should have an emergency plan in place to be used for all children and youth ministry events; a comprehensive plan that will address evacuation, natural disasters and what to do in the event of an intruder. Make sure you go over this information with your staff and volunteers.
9. What is your well-child policy?
Somewhere in the registration packet let parents know that children with certain symptoms must stay home and if they are observed to have any of the listed symptoms after drop off, the child’s parent or authorized adult will be contacted to pick them up. This communicates to the parents that you take great care to protect well children from getting sick, another huge relief.
10. How do you handle discipline issues?
Let’s assume that your team will be well prepared for each lesson and activity, so the children won’t have idle time to think up how to get trouble. Besides being well-prepared, communicate to the parents that you do not use physical discipline, that you have a fair and consistent plan in place to help children understand what is expected of them in your care.
So now you know a little bit of what is going on in the mind of most parents thinking about dropping off their precious little guys and gals. You will do well to not only address and implement a plan for each item on this list but also to carefully communicate to the parents the measures you have taken to ensure the safety of each child attending the VBS event.