Safe Sanctuaries Policy
Risk Reduction Policy
Munholland United Methodist Church, Metairie, LA 70005 www.munhollandumc.org - 504.834.9910
We the congregation of Munholland U.M.C. recognize that there is no human being that falls outside the Psalmist’s claim that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God; “knit together in [our] mother’s womb” by the Creator of the universe. Further, we cannot deny that human-kind has been deemed “very good” by this very same Creator. This inherit value which we posses, coupled the Scriptures’ admonition to avoid “anything that makes your brother or sister stumble,” particularly the “little ones,” calls us to also recognize the grievous harm present in all instances of abuse. Such incidents, whether sexual, physical, emotional or harassing in nature, are devastating to all who are involved. God calls us to make Munholland U.M.C. a safe place, doing all we can to protect children, teens and other vulnerable persons from the devastating affects of abuse. Thus, in covenant with one another, we adopt this policy for the prevention of abuse in our church.
Our congregation’s purpose for establishing this Safe Sanctuaries /Risk Reduction Policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate our absolute and unwavering commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all who come under our care.
Statement of Covenant
Therefore, as a Christian community of faith and a United Methodist congregation, we pledge to conduct the ministry of the gospel in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of all of who come under our care. We will follow reasonable safety measures in the selection and recruitment of both staff persons and volunteers; we will implement prudent operational procedures in all programs, ministries and events; we will provide broad education regarding our policies, as well as recognizing the signs of abuse; we will have a clearly defined procedure for reporting a suspected incident of abuse that conforms to the requirements of state law; and we will respond immediately and compassionately to any reported or suspected abuse, again following the requirements of state law and the policies of The Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. The procedures for fulfilling this covenant can be found in the accompanying document called, “Safe Sanctuaries and Risk Reduction Policy for Munholland UMC.”
In all of our ministries, this congregation is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so that every child of God will be “…surrounded by steadfast love, …established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal” (Baptismal Covenant II,” United Methodist Hymnal, p. 44).
Children and Youth
All persons who volunteer with children/teens through the ministries/activities of Munholland UMC shall fall into one of the following categories. All paid staff persons shall be at the Level 1 Category.
LEVEL ONE PERSONNEL – Level 1 personnel at Munholland UMC include but are not limited to all full time/part time paid employees.
Persons at this level are required to:
• Attend, at least annually, risk reduction policy training
• Undergo a criminal background and reference check
• If a volunteer, must have been actively involved in the congregation or ministry for a minimum of six months
All clergy are subject to background rechecks.
LEVEL TWO PERSONNEL – Every volunteer who regularly supervises, or works around, children or youth at Munholland UMC must be at
least Level two.
Persons at this level are required to:
• Attend, at least annually, risk reduction policy training
• Undergo a non-criminal background check
• Be an active participant in the life of the congregation or ministry for at least six months prior to volunteering
• Complete a “Volunteer Application” form
Non-criminal Background Checks also include:
• A personal interview with the applicant/volunteer
• A signed copy of Munholland’s Safe Sanctuaries/Risk Reduction policy
LEVEL THREE PERSONNEL – are volunteers that are used only in emergency or occasional situations. (For example, helping with Vacation Bible School)
Level three personnel:
• have been made aware of the risk reduction policy.
• agree to abide by the policy and to “work” only when Level One or Two personnel are present and supervising.
• must be known and recommended by a Level One or Two person.
All ministries/activities sponsored by Munholland UMC shall provide for adequate responsible adult supervision of teens and children.
For our purposes here, AN ADULT MUST BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OF AGE, keeping in mind that some circumstances may be subject of a different legal definition.
All classes, studies, workshops, fellowship/recreation opportunities, one on one counseling sessions, private meetings or mentoring, etc., with youth or children shall be conducted in a public space or in a space easily observable by others at all times. Thus:
A minimum of two unrelated adults must be present as long as a child or teen is in a church facility or on a church sponsored activity. Other factors that should be considered are:
a) it is pointless to restrict meetings to public or easily observable spaces without having someone present to observe.
b) it is equally pointless to meet in a public space if the child/youth arrives and departs alone in the adult’s vehicle.
c) attention should be given to the physical structure of the facilities (whether it lends itself to a roaming adult with one adult in
the other rooms, for instance).
• The presence of both male and female adult leadership (unrelated) for coed overnight activities is required.
• For non-overnight, coed gatherings, having both male and female adults present is recommended.
• Medical information/release forms and permission slips are required for any activity where children and youth are away from Munholland UMC’s main facilities. Additionally, medical information/release forms and permission slips are also required for physical activities while on campus.
Only Level One or Two adults are allowed to transport children and youth while on a Munholland UMC sponsored activity. Minimally, a driver must:
a) be in possession of a current, valid driver’s license.
b) have proof of insurance at the State minimum limits.
c) not be otherwise disqualified from driving (i.e., under medication, extremely tired, under the influence of mind altering substances, etc.)
• Every child/teen being transported on a Munholland UMC activity must be securely fastened in a seatbelt, whether a church or personal vehicle is being used. At no time shall the number of passengers exceed the number of usable seat belts.
Safe driving is expected, including:
a) obeying traffic laws
b) no horseplay in vehicles
c) a mechanically sound and inspected vehicle
• It is permissible for one adult to transport a child/youth in a vehicle provided:
a) the presence of more than two youth or children in the vehicle and
b) the vehicle is traveling via caravan and/or
c) a 3rd party observes and documents accurate departure and arrival times
• It is recommended that all drivers of vehicles for church or other sponsored events shall be at least 21 years of age. Check-in/check-out procedure for all kindergarten aged children and younger:
• Check-in/check-out procedure for all kindergarten aged children and younger is required. This procedure shall include a system ensuring that a child will only be released to an authorized parent or designee.
• Kindergarten aged children and younger must be accompanied by an adult whenever traveling through the facilities of Munholland UMC.
•It is required that permission forms be obtained from parents/legal guardians for all overnight events involving children or youth at which the parent/guardian is not present.
• Forms shall contain not only parental consent for the child’s attendance, but also medical information/release, emergency contact information and a liability release.
There shall be a process for educating parents on child safety issues, including:
• sharing Munholland UMC’s risk reduction policies
• when and where children may be unattended (for example: at what age and in which hallways)
• recognizing, reporting and preventing child abuse
Ratios of adults to children:
• a ratio of no less than 1 adult to every 10 children/youth will be maintained at all Munholland UMC activities involving children and teens. However, the 2 unrelated adult rule always applies, even when less than 10 children/youth are present.
• although the above ratio is adequate in most cases, ratios are also age driven and should be considered carefully and clearly.
a) 1/3 is more realistic for infants and toddlers
b) 1/8 may be more appropriate for children through the age of 12 or 13
c) the physical structure of the facility should also be taken into consideration
d) disabilities should also be taken into consideration
It is the policy of Munholland UMC that church staff members and/or trained volunteer observers will make unannounced visits to classes, nurseries, events and gatherings held both on and off the campus, for the purpose of monitoring compliance with our policies. A designated person will be responsible for organizing, implementing and keeping record of such visits.
In addition to the above guidelines, it is required that there is at least a five year age difference between the primary on-site supervisor and the age of those being supervised at any activity involving children or teens. The five-year difference in ages shall apply between the on-site adult in charge and the age of the oldest person supervised.
• persons being closer in age to those supervised may be acceptable in assisting the primary on-site supervisor(s). The ratio of those “closer in age than 5 years” to those “meeting the 5 year rule” shall never exceed 3 to 1. Those not meeting the 5 year rule must still comply with all other LEVEL ONE or TWO requirements.
• Elementary-age children shall go in same sex pairs (“the buddy system”) when they are excused to go to the restroom from Sunday school, children’s choirs, children’s clubs or other church activities where they are unaccompanied by a parent. The Level One or Two person in charge should supervise such “hall passes.”
• Since kindergarten and younger children have a restroom in their classroom, they should use the restroom independently, with door ajar with adult supervision outside the door, unless a bathroom “accident” requires additional assistance.
Adopted December 2008
To be a Volunteer at Munholland United Methodist Church, please complete the following 3 forms and return to Frank Ruholl at the church office. If you have any questions concerning the Safe Sanctuary please contact the church office at 834-9910.
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