General Purpose Statement
Greenbelt Baptist Church seeks to provide a safe and secure environment for the children and youth who participate in our programs and activities. By implementing the practices below, our goal is to protect the children and youth of Greenbelt Baptist Church from incidents or misconduct or inappropriate behavior, while also protecting our staff volunteers from false accusations.
For the purpose of this policy, the terms “child” or “children” include all persons under the age of eighteen (18) years.
Selection of Workers
All employees and persons who desire to work with the children participating in our programs and activities will be screened. This screening includes the following:
Two Month Rule: No volunteer for any position involving contact with minors will be approved until s/he has been a member of Greenbelt Baptist Church for a minimum of two (2) months. This time of interaction between the church, our leadership, and the applicants allows for better evaluation and assessment/confirmation of suitability of the applicant for working with children.
Written Application: All persons seeking to work with children must complete and sign a written application in a form to be supplied by us. The application will request basic information from the applicant and will inquire into previous experience with children, previous church affiliation, reference and employment information, as well as a disclosure of any previous criminal convictions or accusations. This application will be maintained in confidence on file with the church.
Personal Interview: Upon completion of the application, a face-to-face interview may be scheduled with the applicant to discuss his or her suitability for the position.
Reference Checks: Before an applicant is permitted to work with children, at least two of the applicant’s references will be checked. These references should ideally be of an institutional nature as opposed to personal and familial references, preferably from organizations where the applicant has worked with children in the past. Documentation of reference check will be maintained in confidence on file with the church.
Criminal Background Check: Greenbelt Baptist Church reserves the right to perform a national criminal background check for all employees (regardless of position) and for the following categories of volunteers:
–– Those involved with our Sunday School/preschool/nursery/teen activities.
–– Those who will be involved in overnight activities with minors
–– Those counseling minors
–– Those involved in one-on-one mentorship of minors; and
–– Those having occasional one-on-one contact with minors.
Before a background check is run, prospective workers will be asked to sign an authorization form allowing the church to run the check. If an individual declines to sign the authorization form, he or she will be unable to work with children.
What constitutes a disqualifying offense that will keep an individual from working with children will be determined by the pastoral staff on a case-by-case basis in light of the surrounding circumstances. Generally, convictions for an offense involving children and/or offenses involving violence, dishonesty, illegal substances, indecency, and any conduct contrary to our mission will preclude someone from being permitted to work with children. Failure to disclose a criminal conviction on the application form will also be a disqualifying event.
The background check and authorization form and results will be maintained in confidence on file with the church.
Mentorship Rule: One-to-one meetings with minors must not take place with members of the opposite sex. Any one-to-one meetings with minors must take place either in the presence of the minor’s parent(s) and/or guardian(s) or in a conspicuously public place. The only exception to this is if there is a clearly arranged agreement between the mentor (who is a church worker/volunteer) and the child’s parents and this agreement is made known to and agreed upon by the pastoral staff.
Unlocked Door Policy: Classroom doors should never be locked while persons are inside the classroom. Unless classroom doors have large windows, doors to the classroom should remain open.
Sunday School Coordinator: Ideally, Greenbelt Baptist Church will have a Sunday School Coordinator who will serve to lead families and children (i.e., new visitors) to the proper rooms. The Coordinator will walk and check in on each classroom throughout the Sunday School hour making sure everything is fine. This will help with providing safety in those rooms who only have one worker.
Worker-Child Ratio: Greenbelt Baptist reserves the right, for the safety of the children, to limit the amount of children there are in any one classroom in direct ratio to the amount of workers who are serving. For Children’s Church we maintain that for every worker there can be no more than twelve children, and with two workers, no more than twenty-five children. If there are any more children desiring to be admitted over and above the delimited ratio, and a third worker is not available to help, that child must not be admitted to Children’s Church and should remain with his or her parent(s) or guardian(s).
In accordance with Maryland State Law:
Greenbelt Baptist Church maintains that at least two workers must always be present in the nursery. A third worker will be on the schedule on an on-call basis depending on need and decided on by the Nursery Coordinators. The following worker child ratios should be applied at all times:
Group Composition Minimum Staffing Maximum Group Size
Infants and toddlers, with 1 to 2 infants in the group 2 to 3 9
Infants and toddlers, with 3 or more infants in the group 2 to 3 6
Check-in/Check-out Procedure: For children below grade three (3), a security check-in/check-out procedure will be followed. The child will be signed in and signed out by a parent or guardian or an adult designated specifically to the teacher by the parent or guardian.
Sick Child Policy: It is our desire to provide a healthy and safe environment for all children at Greenbelt Baptist Church. Parents are encouraged to be considerate of other children when deciding whether to place a child under our care. In general, children with the following symptoms should not be dropped off:
–– Fever, diarrhea, or vomiting within 48 hours
–– Green or yellow runny nose (repeated sneezing)
–– Ear, Eye or skin infections
–– Other symptoms of communicable or infectious disease
Children, whether Nursery, Children’s Church, or Sunday School class who are observed by our workers to be ill will be separated from other children and the parent or guardian will be contacted to request that the child be picked up for the day.
Medications Policy: It is the policy of Greenbelt Baptist Church not to administer either prescription or non-prescription medications to the children under our care. Medications should be administered by a parent. Exceptions to the medications policy may be granted to the parents of children with potentially life-threatening conditions (such as asthma or severe allergic reactions). Parents of such children should address their situation with the head of Nursery and Sunday School education to develop a plan of action.
Allergy Disclosure: It is the policy of Greenbelt Baptist Church that all new children admitted into Nursery, Sunday School, or Children’s Church must fill out an information card disclosing any allergies the child may have (as well as any medical information pertinent to the child while under the care of Greenbelt Baptist childcare workers).
Discipline Policy: It is the policy of Greenbelt Baptist Church not to administer corporal punishment, even if parents have suggested or given permission for it. There should be no spanking, harsh grabbing, hitting, or other physical discipline of children. Workers should consult with a pastor or the head of Sunday School education if assistance is needed with disciplinary issues. This policy should not apply to parents administering corporal punishment to their own children, as long as that punishment does not constitute abuse as defined by this policy (see below).
Restroom Guidelines: Parents are responsible for making sure that their child has used the bathroom before nursery or class begins. A notice on the door should remind parents of this. Where there is a bathroom in the classroom, the child can be dismissed directly to the bathroom. For children under the first grade, and where a bathroom is not in the classroom, the other teacher or the Sunday School Coordinator will escort the child to the bathroom door. If assistance is necessary, the adult will leave the bathroom door open. For the protection of all, workers should never be alone with a child in a closed restroom.
Accidental Injuries to Children: In the event that a child is injured under our care, the following steps should be taken.
–– For minor injuries, scrapes, and bruises, workers will provide first aid (Band-aids, etc.) as appropriate and will notify the child’s parent or guardian of the injury at the time the child is picked up from our care.
–– For injuries requiring medical treatment beyond simple first aid, the parent or guardian will immediately be summoned in addition to the worker’s supervisor (head of Nursery or Sunday School education or a pastor). If warranted by circumstances, an ambulance will be called.
–– Once the child has received appropriate medical attention, an incident report will be completed in the case of injuries requiring treatment by a medical professional.
Responding to Allegations of Child Abuse: For purposes of this policy, “child abuse” is any action (or lack of action) which endanger or harm a child’s physical or psychological health or development. Child abuse occurs in different ways and includes the following:
–– Physical Abuse: Any physical injury to a child that is not accidental, such as beating, shaking, burns, and biting;
–– Emotional/Mental Abuse: Emotional and verbal injury when the child is subjected to constant criticism, belittling, and persistent teasing;
–– Sexual Abuse: Any sexual activity between a child and adult or between a child and another child at least four years older than the victim, including activities such as fondling, exhibitionism, intercourse, incest, and exposure to pornography;
–– Neglect: Depriving a child of essential needs, such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care.
Childcare workers may suspect or become aware of abuse or neglect of children under the care of Greenbelt Baptist. In the event that an individual involved in the care of children at Greenbelt Baptist Church suspects or is aware of abuse or neglect of a child, this should be reported immediately to the pastors for further action. Regardless of whether or not a pastor has been made aware, the worker who suspects or becomes aware of abuse has complete freedom to contact Child Protection Services and may do so anonymously in “good faith” as is stated in Maryland Law. If there is a situation which requires immediate interaction (i.e., a life threatening issue) the government authorities should be contacted immediately. Though certain incidents of abuse require involvement from the civil authorities (Rom 13), and the Church gladly sees this as God’s common grace, the local church (GBC) maintains a commitment to shepherding and caring for those members of the the church, be it in encouragement, counseling, discipline, or care.
In the event that an incident of abuse or neglect is alleged to have occurred at Greenbelt Baptist Church or during our sponsored programs or activities, the following procedure should be followed:
–– The parent or guardian of the child will be notified (unless the parent or guardian is suspected of being the perpetrator of abuse);
–– The worker (or member) alleged to be the perpetrator of the abuse or misconduct will immediately be placed on leave from work with children impending investigation;
–– Our insurance company will be notified, and we will complete an incident report;
––We will also comply with the state’s requirements regarding mandatory abuse as the law then exists;
–– We will cooperate with any investigation of the incident by the state and local authorities. In the event there is no investigation by the state or local authorities, a team will be formed to investigate the circumstances of the incident. The team should act in consultation with our insurance company and/or attorney;
–– Any person who is not found innocent of alleged abuse or misconduct will be removed from their position with children, and will, if deemed necessary by the church undergo church discipline;
–– A pastor will be our spokesperson to the media concerning incidents of abuse or neglect, unless he is alleged to be involved. All workers shall refrain from speaking to the media;
–– A pastoral visit will be arranged for those who desire it.
Training: Greenbelt Baptist Church will provide training on this child protection policy to all new childcare workers and will strive to provide opportunities for additional training classes or events on an annual basis.