Church Nursery Safe Practices
Consider including the following in your written policies:
- Each nursery session should be staffed by at least two people—either two adults or one adult with one helper.
- One adult (staff person or volunteer) should be present for every four infants.
- One adult or helper should be present for every four toddlers.
- Helpers may serve in nursery only when a volunteer or staff member is present to supervise.
- A third, unrelated volunteer or helper should be present when married couples serve in the nursery.
- A volunteer or helper may not spend time in the nursery room(s) when he or she is not scheduled to serve.
- A staff member or volunteer may take children out of the nursery only for a compelling reason, such as to use the bathroom or in case of illness.
- When a toddler requires bathroom assistance in a location outside the nursery, a staff member or volunteer may assist the child and should leave the bathroom door ajar.
- When the bathroom is located in the nursery itself, a staff member, volunteer, or helper may assist the child, again leaving the bathroom door ajar.
- Staff, volunteers, or helpers should diaper infants or toddlers in the nursery room.
What Can Churches Learn from the Kentwood Abduction Incident?
- Churches need to have a policy regarding the care of children in nursery. The policy should indicate who may serve as volunteers and under what circumstances a volunteer or child may leave the nursery.
- A church nursery without bathroom facilities may require additional volunteers if using the bathroom requires a volunteer to leave the nursery with a child.
- A church nursery should incorporate a practical process to identify a child with his or her parents so that drop-off and pick-up are smooth and risk-free. Parents can be given tickets or tags that match one assigned to their child; parents can be given a pager that they must turn in before picking up their child; parents must provide a photo of themselves for volunteers to pair up with a child; parents must sign a release that allows siblings or grandparents to pick up a child from nursery, etc.
- A church nursery coordinator should assign volunteers to each nursery and approve a substitute. All nursery workers should be known by the nursery coordinator, and the coordinator should verify the assigned volunteers before worship services begin.
- A church nursery may be safer if videocameras are used to record who enters and leaves the nursery or the church. Cell phones, walkie-talkies, or a panic button may be useful to alert ushers or church officials if there is a problem in the nursery.
- Doors near the entrance to nursery should be locked during the church service.
- Because young children can be as vulnerable as infants, church programs that serve post-nursery age children may benefit from many of these above suggestions.
—from the CRC’s Safe Church Ministry
More Information on the Child Abduction Incident
For information on the abduction incident and what the church is doing in response, please visit the Kentwood Community Church’s website at www.kentwoodcommunitychurch.com/inthenews.