Safety and Risk Management--Children and Youth Protection Policy

 Children and Youth Protection Policy


Maple Park Alliance Church (MPAC) has a spiritual, moral and legal obligation to provide a secure environment for children participating in church programs that are under the auspices and authority of the church.  


Everyone who teaches, helps or cares for children and/or teens under the auspices of MPAC Children and/or Youth Ministries is required to follow the guidelines and procedures as defined in this document and relevant appendices.


In making sure MPAC is a safer place, we will be:

  1. Providing a safe facility with a safe physical environment, conducive to effective programming and supervision

  2. Safeguarding children and youth of our church from abuse.  

  3. Ensuring the supervision of ministry personnel through formal and informal visits to classrooms and programs.

  4. Protecting the church staff and volunteer workers from potential allegations of abuse.

  5. Reporting suspected abuse as per the requirements of the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development.

  6. Limiting the extent of legal risk and liability due to any such abuse.                                          


Definitions:

Children – individuals up to and including 12 years of age

Youth – individuals age 13 to 18

Adult – individuals age 19 and older


MPAC Ministries is committed to the following:


1.  We will screen all volunteers who work with children and youth. Any person wishing to volunteer in children and youth ministries must first fill out a MPAC Leader Volunteer Application Form.  All new volunteers will be interviewed by the Board appointed leadership or the Children and Youth Ministry Coordinators. 


2.  We will check references and do criminal record checks on all our workers for any position involving work with children and youth.  Criminal record checks will be renewed every 3 years.  Any individual who will not submit to this procedure will be ineligible to be involved with children and youth on behalf of the church.    


3.  We will check the driving records for all volunteer drivers for MPAC special events outside of the church facilities.  


4.  We will train all of our staff who work with children and youth, both paid and volunteer, to understand the nature of child abuse how to carry out our policies to prevent abuse including our clearly defined reporting procedures for suspected incidents.


5.  We recognize the best practice of the “Two-Adult” rule.  However, it is understood that circumstances may arise when only one adult may be present.  The Children and Youth Ministry Policies outline procedures to follow under those circumstances.


6.  We will follow the “Six Month” rule.  Volunteers will be permitted to work with children or youth only after they have been adherents/members of MPAC for a period of at least six months.  Such a policy gives the church an additional opportunity to evaluate applicants and volunteers.  (This provision may be waived by the Board of Elders where the person can show outstanding references and previous experience).


7.   MPAC Ministry personnel are to avoid giving or applying any medication.  If a child or youth needs medication, the parent/guardian should give it.  No medication will be left in the classroom or with ministry personnel or child/youth.  In extreme cases where a ministry personnel may be require to intervene (i.e. peanut allergies, inhalers, etc.) prior arrangements should be made with written instructions and the permission of the child’s or youth’s parent/guardian.


8.  Touch is an essential part in nurturing lives.  Volunteers need to be aware of, and sensitive to, differences in sexual development, cultural differences, family backgrounds, individual personalities and special needs.  Physical contact with children or youth should be age and developmentally appropriate.  The following guidelines are recommended:


A. Appropriate Touch

  • Bending down to the child’s/youth’s eye level and speaking kindly; listening to him or her carefully

  • Putting an arm around the shoulder of a child/youth who needs comforting.

  • Patting a child/youth on the head, hand, shoulder or back to affirm him or her.

  • Holding a child/youth by the shoulders to keep his or her attention while you redirect the child’s/youth’s behavior.


B. Inappropriate Touch (You must avoid)

    • Kissing a child/youth, coaxing a child/youth to kiss you, extended hugging and tickling.

    • Touching a child/youth in any area that would be covered by a bathing suit.

    • Carrying elementary aged children or youth or having them sit on your lap.  

    • Avoid prolonged physical contact with any child or youth.   


  1. Our children and youth have a right to a caring, respectful and safe church environment where they will encounter the love of God in action. An anti-bullying policy will therefore be in effect at all times and will be clearly communicated and enforced among the children and youth. All ministry personnel will take action to prevent bullying, teach against it, and assist and support children and youth who are being bullied.  Bullying in any form will not be tolerated.


  1. All children and youth participating in children and youth ministries will be registered.  Registration includes names of child and parents/guardians, age of the child and their address.  This information will be carefully maintained, updated annually and kept permanently in a central file.


  1. Authorization and Consent forms will be required to be filled out for each out-of-town or overnight event.


  1. For all events off-site, a release and permission statement will be included on all registration forms releasing the church from unforeseen and accidental damages along with contact information in case of an accident.


  1. A statement will be included on the forms issued under section 12 above which stipulates the purpose and extent for collecting personal information of children and youth.


  1. The Safety and Risk Management Guidelines and Policies will be reviewed at the beginning of each ministry year (prior to September) to update files and training and to ensure the physical environment is compliant with policy and guidelines.


  1. All incidents of suspected abuse will be reported and followed up as per the requirements of the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development.  The Senior Pastor or designate shall work with the person reporting the incident to ensure that the appropriate process is observed and shall immediately report the incident or alleged abuse to the CPD office.  Confidentiality of all persons involved shall be carefully protected.  One appointed spokesperson shall present a carefully prepared response statements as needed.