Children need a safe environment in which they can learn God’s Word. Careful facility design is an important step to overall child safety. Providing a safe environment for kids involves regular safety inspections for items like outlet covers and at least an annual site assessment. An area often overlooked is outside spaces where youth will be.
A site assessment is most effective when several people survey the spaces used. People see things from different perspectives, and each brings unique value to the assessment. Include children in the assessment by interviewing them to ask if any places seem scary or if they try to avoid certain places. Here are a few examples of items to evaluate in a site assessment.
One of the key factors to keeping children safe from abuse is visibility. Every classroom should have a window that allows anyone to see what is happening in the room. When childcare includes children who are not potty trained, viewing access of the changing table is important. If installing windows to the classroom is difficult, consider adding cameras. This means that someone is checking the video feed regularly whenever children are present.
Planning for Safety
Safety starts at the time of a building project. The design can include details like windows at least 18 inches from the floor with window ledges flush to the wall. Bathrooms attached to classrooms are ideal for allowing the child to remain supervised.
Putting children in a space that has restricted access keeps out people who do not need to be by the children. It provides a secure area for volunteers and children alike. Adding good check-in and check-out procedures increases the likelihood of remaining safe. The check-in area should always be manned for children’s safety.
Regular risk assessments ensure that the space for children remains safe from week to week and over the years. Encourage adults to visually inspect the room for hazards before each class. Any concerns are reported to a designated individual.
Before the start of a new youth program, do a thorough risk assessment of all the spaces that will be used. Do this a few weeks before the program starts to give time to make any changes needed. Items to evaluate include checking furniture for stability and making sure electrical cords are out of the way.
Michelle Markgraf, Freedom for the Captives
- Step One: Form a Child Safety Committee
- Step Two: Create Urgency
- Step Three: Know Your Volunteers
- Sample Site Assessment Checklist
- Step Four: Assess Your Space
- Sample Standards for Interactions with Minors and/or Vulnerable Adults
- Step Five: Implement Guidelines for Youth Leaders
- Step Six: Train adults to recognize and respond to abuse
- Step Seven: Support abuse survivors
- Step Eight: Create guidelines for responding to abuse
- Step Nine: Educate children about personal safety
- Step Ten: Review and maintain your child protection program