So Loved...

A ministry to preschoolers, children, teens,
and their families.

 

South Spring Baptist Church of Tyler

 

INTRODUCTION

“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,” a quote from John that is so familiar we do not need to quote the chapter or verse. We believe God loves the world, and even more specifically, God loves children. This love has been made known in the person and work of Jesus Christ. These guidelines are a prayer for South Spring Baptist Church that we as a church would always remember that each person is “so loved” by God.

While these pages are filled with directions and details, our hope is that it also explains our heart to minister to each preschooler, child, teen, family, and worker. This does not mean that no child will ever cry in our nursery or that every teen will be happy. It does not mean that we will never have spilled paint or create the perfect environment. It means we will strive so every parent or guardian and child will walk away knowing they are deeply loved by Christ and His church. This is our opportunity as shepherds of people (1 Peter 5:1-4).

The Church membership has a God given responsibility to protect the children & teens who are placed in our care with due diligence by all volunteers and staff who work with children (Mark 9:42). These guidelines are enacted in an effort to do our best to fulfill that obligation.

 

VISION AND VALUES

Our Mission:
… to meet children & teens at their level of development,
… to teach them the love of Christ and the joy of His forgiveness and salvation,
… to help them learn the truth of His Word,
… to encourage children, teens and their families to grow within the body of Believers.
The vision of the SSBC Tyler ministries is to partner with families to reach and disciple them on how to live, teach, and tell the Gospel so that all would know the Living God.

Ministries under the direct control of SSBC are subject to these guidelines. Other ministries not under
our direct control should have guidelines equal or greater than our guidelines or may adopt our guidelines.

 

VOLUNTEERS AND ALL SSBC STAFF

Our programs could not succeed without the commitment and dedication of caring volunteers and paid child-care workers. Your training and safety are SSBC Tyler Children’s and Teen Ministry’s priority in enacting these guidelines.

All Volunteers are required to:
Submit his/her name and the desired area of service to the Appropriate Minister. Upon completion and approval of a volunteer application – including references, a background check, and a signature stating that you have read and understand the “So loved…” guidelines your name will be added to the department’s list of available workers.

All SSBC Employees are required to:
Be interviewed
Fill out an application (including references) Pass a background check
Provide a signature stating that you have read and understand the “So loved…” guidelines

Disqualification:
We reserve the right to investigate and not approve individuals who may pose a threat to the children, teens, and vulnerable adults as revealed through references and interaction and as decided by the ministerial staff. We also reserve the right to investigate and not approve individuals with any prior offense involving abuse for reasons including:
Was convicted
Was placed on regular or deferred adjudication Received adjudicated probation
Received pre-trial diversion Pled guilty
Pled nolo contendere, “no contest”

Waiting Period:
Volunteers will be associated with the church for at least six months prior to service in either the children or teen ministries.

Intoxicants:
SSBC Staff and volunteers are prohibited from the use, possession, or being under the influence of alcohol, tobacco, or any illegal drugs while working with or supervising children or teens at SSBC Tyler.

Teens Volunteering with Children:
We want to encourage service in the life of each member of the church. Teens, under the age of 18, will not be counted as one of the two approved adults in each classroom. However, if they would like to volunteer they will be required to complete a volunteer application and receive permission from the Minister to Children to serve in the ministry.

Volunteer Attendance for Children:
Volunteering in the Children’s Ministry is a privilege not a right. SSBC Tyler takes seriously the obligations to its children and asks volunteers to abide by the following guidelines:

1. Arrival – Volunteers need to be at their posts 15 minutes prior to the event or as otherwise instructed.

2. Departure – Volunteers should remain at the children’s ministry event until the last child has been picked up by a parent or guardian or until relieved by another volunteer.

3. Absences – Volunteers are responsible for their assigned shifts. Should the need arise for a volunteer to be absent, it is the volunteer’s responsibility to secure a substitute. The volunteer needs to (1) seek out an approved substitute (from a list provided by the Minister to Children) and call or email the Minister to Children to inform them of their upcoming absence and the name of their replacement.

In the event of a last-minute illness or emergency, volunteers should email their Department head. And if possible, have the name of who the substitute teacher will be.

Check-In And Pick-Up Procedures for Children:
Typically, children (infants through 5th grade) will be checked-in at one of the computer kiosks located throughout the SSBC Tyler facility. The check-in system will assign the child to the correct class based on their birth date and print the appropriate security labels. For children from infants through Kindergarten two labels will be printed – one to be affixed to the child and the other is to be used by the parent/guardian for pick-up. For children in 1st through 5th grades only the label for the child will be printed. Parent pick-up tags are not required for children in 1st-5th grades.

Guests with children will be checked-in by volunteers at one of the Children’s Welcome Centers. These children and the parent/guardian will receive nametags and the parent pick-up tag as needed from the Welcome Center volunteers or staff on duty.

Infants through Kindergarten should be picked up by their parent/guardian or a responsible sibling. The parent pick-up tag should be presented in order for the child to be released. All volunteers should ask for the pick-up tag, match the tag to the child, and then release the child to the parent/guardian or responsible sibling.

1st grade – 5th grade children do not require a parent pick-up tag and may be released to a sibling or other family member.

Promotion:
SSBC Tyler promotes children & teens to the next class level once yearly at the beginning of the TISD school year. Children remain in their class level until the next promotion date unless given specific permission by the Department Minister.

Parent Involvement:
Parents are invited to observe all programs and activities in which their child & teen is involved. However, parents/guardians who desire to come to their child’s classroom for more than 2 consecutive weeks will be required to complete the SSBC Tyler volunteer application and a background check.

In the event a child becomes inconsolable, ill, injured, has a severe disciplinary problem, or is a danger to themselves or other children; the parent/guardian will be called from worship or their Bible Study class by a coordinator or staff member.

Special Guidelines for Parent’s Night Out / Special Church Activities:
At least one approved lead paid child-care worker OR one approved lead church member is to be present on the premises during the child-care event. All guidelines apply to Parent’s Night Out / Special Church Activities, like MOPS.

 

PROTECTION FOR CHILDREN, TEENS, AND ADULTS

 

SSBC Tyler intends to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of volunteers and children. This is part of how we interpret the responsibilities of shepherds. As a precaution and to ensure accountability from one adult to another, volunteers should follow these rules unless special circumstances arise:

 

FOR CHILDREN:

Two Adult Volunteer Guideline:
Two adult volunteers should remain together with children at all times, except in an emergency situation. If a volunteer needs to leave a group of children, a coordinator or staff member should be notified so that the two adult volunteers can be maintained. Coordinators and Staff members are monitoring the building and are available to help in any one, especially in making sure the two adult rule is maintained.

Restroom Guidelines:
Volunteers should provide assistance to a child using the restroom only if the child is three years or younger or has special needs requiring extra assistance. Only female volunteers should provide this assistance.

Restrooms located between classrooms: One volunteer may provide assistance for a child three years or younger in one of these restrooms, as long as the door to the restroom remains slightly open and another approved adult is present in the room adjoining the restroom.

Multi-stall and single-stall restrooms: Two approved adults should be present with the children to this style of restroom: One standing at the slightly open door and the other in the hallway. If there is a time when using two volunteers would place the classroom without enough approved workers contact the coordinator who is monitoring the hall.

Sensitive Subject Matter (for Children Only):
Certain topics of discussion are best left for parent /guardians and their children. If you have a question about the propriety of discussing one of the topics listed below, speak with the Minister to Children or the Leader in charge of the area in which you serve. Examples could include:
The rapture The tribulation

Satan – if the purpose is to incite undue fear or confusion Hell – if the purpose is to incite undue fear or confusion Denominations
Speaking in tongues
Human sexuality or reproduction Female menstrual cycle
Drugs, alcohol, or other questionable behavior in an adult’s past.

 

FOR TEENS:

Adult Volunteer Guideline:
Two adult volunteers should remain together with students. If a volunteer needs to leave a group of student, the Minister of Students or another adult volunteer should be notified so that the two adult volunteers can be maintained. If there are times this cannot be maintained a rule of 3 needs to be enforced. Adults should not be alone with an individual student. This applies to all Student Ministry events, both on campus and off campus, including Sunday morning Bible Study, Student Choir, Disciple Now, REFUGE, Small Groups, etc.

All relationships between students and volunteers should be above reproach, no dating relationships should develop.

 

FOR CHILDREN & TEENS:

Social Media:
To protect yourself and keep yourself above reproach, please make all communication with a teen (or child) as public as possible. Please send texts and emails in a group. Please also remember even on your personal social media sites ie: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or YouTube, etc. They are public representations of you, your family, and also your church family. Please choose to honor the Lord with all posts, pictures, videos, and language.

Photography:
Please do not take photos of the children or teens at SSBC unless you have express permission to do so from their guardians. The church often includes a photo release form for activities/events and will post pictures using the same standards, expressed permission from guardian

Physical Contact:
SSBC Tyler is committed to protecting children and teens in its care and recognizes that appropriate touch is a natural part of a caring, nurturing environment in a healthy family ministry. Physical contact in any form should be above reproach. The personal behavior of staff members and volunteers needs to foster trust at all times, this includes during times of punishment. Do not force physical contact, touch, or affection on a reluctant child. A person’s preference not to be touched should be respected, except in an emergency situation.

Using good judgment and acting with love; examples of appropriate forms of touch for children and teens might include:
an arm around the shoulder
walking hand in hand with small children, carrying small children, piggy-back, congratulatory or greeting hugs
a brief assuring pat on the back or shoulder handshakes
high-fives
knuckles

The following are actions a volunteer should NEVER take: never touch a child/teen in anger or disgust
never touch a child/teen in any manner that may be construed as sexually suggestive
never touch a child’s/teen private parts (with the exception of diaper or bathroom procedures)

Discipline:
SSBC wants discipline to be individualized and consistent for each child, appropriate to the child’s level of understanding; and directed toward teaching the child acceptable behavior and self-control. Volunteers and staff may only use positive methods of discipline and guidance, which include at least the following:
1. Using praise and encouragement of good behavior instead of focusing only upon unacceptable behavior;
2. Reminding a child of behavior expectations by using clear, positive statements;
3. Redirecting behavior using positive statements; and
4. Using brief supervised separation or time out from the group, when appropriate for the child’s age and development, which is limited to no more than one minute per year of the child’s age.

If help is still needed, please call on the Children’s Ministers or coordinators to assist. They will communicate with parents and inform the volunteers or staff of any changes in coaching the child.

Verbal Interactions:
Verbal interactions between volunteers and children and teens should be positive and uplifting. SSBC Tyler volunteers should strive to keep verbal interactions encouraging, constructive, and mindful of their mission of aiding parent or guardians in the spiritual growth and development. To this end, volunteers should strive not talk to children or teens in a way that is or could be construed by any reasonable observer as harsh, threatening, intimidating, shaming, derogatory, demeaning, or humiliating. In addition, volunteers are expected to refrain from swearing in the presence of children and teens.

Anti-bullying policy:
SSBC Tylers prohibits acts of bullying, harassment, and other forms of aggression and violence. Any ministry of SSBC Tyler for 18 yrs & under is expected to refuse to tolerate bullying and harassment and to demonstrate behavior that is respectful and civil. Our church believes that the best way to handle these situations it to (1) support the child in taking responsibility for their actions, (2) develop empathy, and (3) teach alternative ways to achieve a goal or solve a problem that motivated the aggressive behavior.

Training:
Training is an essential component in the role of protecting both children and volunteers. Training will be offered formally at least once each year, or as decided by the department Minister. These guidelines are considered a part of that training. Every volunteer and staff member will sign signifying that they have read and understand the content found in this document.

 

CHILD/TEEN ABUSE PROCEDURES (anyone 18 years & under):

SSBC Tyler supports and maintains a zero tolerance policy against child abuse. Child abuse includes physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or maltreatment. Sexual abuse is defined as the use, persuasion, or coercion of any child to engage in any sexually explicit conduct (or any simulation of such conduct) for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct or rape, molestation, prostitution, or incest with children.

It is against the law and against SSBC Tyler policy for any volunteer or employed staff to physically, sexually, or mentally abuse any child or teen.

SSBC Tyler will neither condone nor tolerate:
– Infliction of bodily injury upon any child or teen or physically or sexually abusive behavior towards the aforementioned people.
– Emotional mistreatment of children or teen, including verbal abuse and/or verbal attacks.

Reporting and Inquiries:
It should be understood that while SSBC Tyler may make an inquiry, it does so to fulfill its spiritual shepherding obligations to the entire church body. The legal body responsible for any inquiry is the appropriate state entity such as the Child Protective Services or the Adult protective Services. SSBC Tyler may be required to report “incidents of abuse” regardless of the findings of an internal inquiry and/or while the internal inquiry is pending.

“Incident(s) of abuse” is defined to mean any occurrence in which any person:
– Is alleged to have inflicted physical injury upon a child, teen, worker, or vulnerable adult;, .
– Is alleged to have committed any sexual advances or actions involving a child, teens, or vulnerable adult. To be clear this would include any kind of sexual advance, a request for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact or exposing a child, teen, or vulnerable adult to verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Reporting requirements:
All volunteers and paid workers shall immediately report to the department minister and then document any ” incident(s) of abuse”. Any person making such a report shall keep the information strictly otherwise confidential.

Responding to the report:
When a volunteer or paid staff receives a report or witnesses an “incident(s) of abuse”, he or she shall immediately take steps to ensure the safety of the alleged victim and to follow the reporting requirements. As soon as reasonably possible, leadership council and the department minister authorized to remove the alleged wrongdoer from further work with children, teens, and vulnerable adults pending inquiry.

In Conclusion:
When there is suspicion of an “incident(s) of abuse” or an immediate danger of same, all volunteers, paid workers, or staff are to follow this line of action:

Suspicion:

Person Reporting -> Department Minister (who communicates with Lead Pastor) & Documentation -> Law Enforcement/ Child Protective Service & Leadership Board

Immediate Danger:

Person Reporting -> Law Enforcement/Child Protective Services -> Department Minister (who communicates with Lead Pastor) & Documentation -> Leadership Board

 

REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER PROCEDURES

We recognize that abuse in all forms is destructive to the community and fellowship of everyone. It is less than God’s best, which we desire for no one. We desire the Church to provide a safe environment for victims of all forms of abuse and to help protect others from it. And, while we deplore the actions of the abuser, we also affirm that they need to experience God’s redeeming love.

Increasingly, church communities are being faced with the tension created by both desires. We consider the safety of children to be a sacred responsibility; we consider the opportunity to be ambassadors to even convicted child abusers to be a sacred responsibility. Being a part of a body of believers in the local church setting may not be a right, but it is an important part of the abundant life Jesus offers.

Welcoming a Sex Offender into the church, whether registered or not, requires maturity, honesty, careful planning, monitoring, and a long-term relationship. In an effort to effect all of these, given the tension created by them, we offer a plan for our leadership regarding this eventuality.

The registered sex offender (RSO) procedures exist to communicate safety and redemption to everyone who attends our church.
1. To communicate that we are not afraid to lovingly interact with real-life issues. (1 John 4:18)
2. To create a safe environment for children and their families to meet with Jesus. (Mark 9:42)
3. To protect RSO’s from compromising situations and false allegations so they can also have a safe place to meet with Jesus. (Proverbs 22:1)
4. To protect children, teens, and others everywhere by helping individuals struggling with hard things in their past realize and accept the power of Christ to change us. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As part of the overall “So loved…“ guideline, we desire that individuals have the opportunity to worship in “Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:24). Without a plan to offer safety to children, teens, and families, we do a disservice to any RSO, or anyone who might be tempted to prey on children or teens in any way, in that we do not offer the safety net of truth in which they can worship.

Step I. Information Gathering:
With church membership, all members of SSBC Tyler are essentially signing up to work within the ministries of the church in practice with their gifts and callings in the Kingdom of God on Earth.
Therefore, all incoming members will be considered imminent volunteers for some area of ministry. As part of the new member training, all new and prospective church members will be educated in general procedures for creating a safe environment at SSBC Tyler.

At this stage, the only background check done will be a simple search of the public national RSO website done by a member of the church leadership with education in these matters.

If, as stated in this guideline, the new or prospective member requests to volunteer within the children or teen department a full Background Check will be conducted.

Step 2. Creating A Plan With RSO:
If in the event and under any circumstance, SSBC Tyler staff discovers that there is a RSO who is regularly attending and/or desiring membership with SSBC Tyler the following steps will take place;
Staff and/or Church leaders (i.e., Lead Pastor along with 2 lay leaders) will meet with the individual to hear their story, listen and pray. If the information is found to be accurate, Staff and/or Church leaders will then meet and determine an individualized plan that best protects the RSO and others. The individualized plan will be presented to the RSO during a second meeting with Staff and/or Church leaders. Further, the church will engage with others who are in areas of support and accountability in the RSO’s life.

The plan will be individualized and could involve: Areas of ministry available to the RSO at SSBC,
Areas of the church that might be restricted to the RSO, Establishment of accountability relationships within the church, Informing, including who will be proactively informed,
How this would be communicated with transfer of membership to another church, Assistance in obtaining the help of a professional, etc…

For reasons of accountability, the plan will be affirmed by the leadership council and implemented by the team.

Step 3. Informing The Church:
At the time an individualized RSO plan is implemented, and if that plan provides for notification church members may request that they be notified. This will ensure that every current and future church member has the opportunity to be informed. Church members that request notification will receive an email with the name of the RSO and a link to the National RSO public information website. Church members that do not request to be informed will not receive the email notification. Each plan will be individualized.

Obviously, if an individualized RSO plan is implemented and notification of church members occurs, there will be great scrutiny over ensuring these steps are handled as well as possible.

Step 4: Work The Plan:
SSBC Tyler will continue to engage in the redemptive work of discipleship and the coming-along-side of the great ministry of the universal Church by working in the plan for the RSO.

 

ADDRESSING MEDIA

If at any time the media contacts a staff member, volunteer or paid worker of SSBC Tyler the person contacted should make no comment to the media and direct the media to the Lead Pastor. This guideline is established because the Lead Pastor, or his assigned delegate, has been assigned the responsibility of communicating with the media, regarding SSBC Tyler’s Ministries.

 

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

Call 911 as necessary. If the fire alarm sounds or you must evacuate the building for any reason, evacuate the building as quickly as possible. Please take your class list (if available) and follow the evacuation plan posted in the room. Count the people present before leaving the room, once you are gathered outside the building and again once you return to the room. At the direction of the Minister t there may be scheduled and/or non-scheduled fire-drill(s) for emergency planning preparation.

Building Evacuation:
– Exit building according to emergency exit map posted in your room.
– Be alert for anything unusual as you leave.
– Do not use the elevators.
– Have a cell phone available if possible – use ONLY as necessary.
– Close door as you leave.
– Remain calm.
– Check for any injuries.
– Remain outside the building until the “all clear” signal is given by authorities.
– INFANT NOTE: Put as many infants in one crib as possible and push the crib out the door. Do not attempt to carry multiple infants – utilize the cribs if possible.

Shelter in Place – Weather:
– Close and lock windows and shut blinds.
– Move to the Safe Spot in building, according to map posted in the room.
– Do not use the elevators.
– Close doors when leaving the room.
– Count your children before you leave, when you get to the Safe Spot, and when you return.
– Have a cell phone available if possible – use ONLY as necessary.
– Stay away from doors and glass.
– Remain calm.
– Check for any injuries.
– Remain in Safe Spot until the “all clear” signal is given.

 

INSURANCE

The SSBC Tyler’s Insurance Committee will periodically review, evaluate, and adjust SSBC Tyler’s Liability Insurance for appropriateness and practicality as it pertains to matters herein.