Our Safe Church Plan applies to children whose parents/guardians have voluntarily placed them under the responsibility of the church for the church’s public worship services or specific children & youth related church-sponsored activities (trips, Bible studies, VBS).When children are at church and not checked into the care of the church, parents/guardians bear the responsibility of watching over them.
For purposes of this policy, the terms “child” or “children” include all persons under the age of eighteen years. The term “worker” and “volunteer” includes both paid and unpaid persons who work with children, anyone involved in a in overnight activities involving minors, in counseling of minors, or in one-on-one mentoring of minors.
All workers and volunteers will be required to take part in a formal application process. As a part of this process, they will fill out a written application, complete a background check, will have an interview with the CE Board, and will provide references - at least one of which must be checked by the CE board before the applicant is allowed to serve.The CE Board will use their discretion as to whether or not the application of a potential worker or volunteer will be accepted.While we realize that we are all sinners in need of the grace of God it is our policy that no one who has previously abused children will be allowed to work with children at Penney Memorial.Additionally, all potential teachers and child-care workers must:
Have attended Penney Memorial for at least six months.
Participate in teacher orientation training.
In order to ensure the safety of the children, workers & volunteers at Penney Memorial, adequate supervision of adults and children must be maintained. All workers & volunteers must follow the two adult rule: At least two adults should be present during class or all other children’s activities. If a class happens to have only one adult worker due to unexpected circumstances, doors to the classroom should remain open and there should be no fewer than three students with the adult worker.We recognize that there may be times when it is necessary or desirable for babysitters (paid or volunteer) who are themselves under age 18 to assist in caring for children during programs or activities. The following guidelines apply to teenage workers:
Must be at least age 14.
Must be screened as specified above.
Must be under the supervision of an adult and must never be left alone with children
Open visibility should be maintained in all childcare areas. Windows should provide an unobstructed view for anyone outside of the rooms.Penney Memorial has a Sign-In/Sign-Out Policy in place for all children’s activities for children in the third grade and below. This means that a parent or guardian must initial a sign-in sheet when they drop off and pick up their child. Annually parents fill out a Sunday School Application for each child, and on this form they will indicate who is authorized to sign-in/sign-out their child.
Workers should escort children, ages 5 and younger, as a group of children to the hallway bathroom. They should always go in a group, never taking a child to the bathroom alone. The workers should check the bathroom first to make sure that it is empty, and then allow the children inside. The workers should then remain outside the bathroom door and escort the children back to the classroom. If a child is taking longer than seems necessary, the worker should open the bathroom door and call the child's name. If a child requires assistance, the workers should prop open the bathroom door, and leave the stall door open as they assist the child.For children over the age of five, the worker should check the bathroom first to make sure that the bathroom is empty, and then allow the children inside. The worker should then remain outside the bathroom door and escort the children back to the classroom.For the protection of all, workers should never be alone with a child in a bathroom with the door closed and never be in a closed bathroom stall with a child. Parents are strongly encouraged to have their children visit the bathroom prior to each class.
For obvious reasons, the safety of our children is of utmost importance. If we have any reason to believe that the safety of one of the children in our care is or has been compromised, or if we have any suspicion that a child is being or has been abused in any way or is suffering from neglect, our leaders have a responsibility to respond quickly to the situation in order to protect the child from any further danger. We have both a moral and a legal responsibility to report all suspected child abuse or neglect (See Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect, page 4) and to take EVERY abuse allegation seriously.If any worker or volunteer has any reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect, then it is important that he or she speak with the Chair of the CE Board and/or with the pastor immediately. Do not wait to report suspected abuse. Failure to immediately report suspected abuse or neglect can put the child in further danger, and may be punishable by fines and civil litigation.
REPORTING SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT
WHAT IS PHYISCAL ABUSE?
Physical Abuse is defined by the State of Maine as:“the abusive treatment to a child by a parent or caregiver that caused or is likely to cause physical injury.Some examples of physical abuse injuries include:
fractures and head trauma
WHAT IS SEXUAL ABUSE?
The state of Maine’s definition of child sexual abuse has three components:
If a parent/caregiver has engaged in sexual contact with a child, or forces a child to have sexual contact with others.
If a parent/caregiver knowingly allows a sexual offender of children uncontrolled access to the children.
If a parent/caregiver is intentionally subjecting a child to purposefully suggestive remarks and behaviors, creating a sexualized environment that is likely to result in sexual abuse or exploitation.
WHAT IS NEGLECT?
“Neglect” is defined by the State of Maine as:A caretaker’s “failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision, or medical care when that failure causes or is likely to cause injury including accidental injury or illness. Also failure to protect a child from harm resulting in physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse. It can be categorized as a deprivation of necessities (food, clothing shelter), by a lack of medical or dental care, by a lack of supervision and by a failure to protect a child from other forms of abuse.
WHEN SHOULD I MAKE AN ABUSE REPORT?
All childcare workers at Penney are obligated to report the following:
If you have personally witnessed any suspicious behavior or the part of a fellow teacher, parent, minister, or other member of the congregation
If a child exhibits physical and behavioral signs of abuse
If a child gives verbal indications that she/he has been abused or molested in some way.
Our congregation has a moral and a legal responsibility to report all suspected child abuse. Furthermore, suspected abuse must be reported immediately. Failure to immediately report suspected abuse can put the child in further danger and may be punishable by fines and civil litigation.ALL abuse allegations must be taken seriously.
HOW DO I REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE?
If you have any reasonable suspicion of abuse as outlined above, then it is important that you speak with the Chair of the Christian Education Board and/or the pastor immediately. The Chair and/or the pastor will guide you through the reporting process from that point forward (See Reporting Procedure page 6).Beyond simply reporting to the Chair and/or the pastor, you also should file your own report. Immediately call 1-800-452-1999. This number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including holidays.
STEP ONE: Secure the Safety of the Child
Immediately secure the safety of the child.
The accused will immediately be removed from all contact with children. If the accused is a paid employee, he or she will be suspended with pay or have their ministry restricted to exclude contact with children.
The Chair/pastor will inform the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) of the concern.
STEP TWO: Oral Reports
Upon suspicion of abuse, an oral report is made to a the Chair of the CE Board or the pastor.
The Chair or pastor will call 1-800-452-1999 to make an oral report.
The person reporting the abuse should also call the civil authorities (1-800-452-1999) to make their own report of abuse.
STEP THREE: Incident Reports
An Incident Report should be filled out within 24 hours of the initial oral report by all adults involved in the incident.
An incident report must be filled out even if it is determined that child abuse has not occurred.
STEP FOUR: Follow-up
The Chair and the pastor will consult with civil authorities and a professional counselor.
The Chair/pastor handling the reporting will inform the accused of the complaint against him or her after the safety of the child is ensured.