Children’s ministries who implement check-in procedures desire for safety for kids and families who enter their buildings. It’s hard to believe that providing check-in at your church could actually be counterproductive to security. Here are 7 ways check-in could actually make your children less safe:

1. Not collecting enough information on children/parents.

Collecting information on children and parents is crucial, should an emergency arise. Be sure to collect parents’ names, cell phone numbers, as well as emergency contact information. Failure to do so could make you unable to get in touch with parents/guardians when you are counting on that information to be there.

2. No unique security codes printed on badges.

In order for check-in to function properly, it must be secure. If unique security codes are not included on your badges, there is likely no way of determining if a child should or should not be checked out by someone who may have a matching badge. The matching badge could have been from a previous week or simply reprinted from a check-in computer.

3. Not including allergy information for everyone with allergies.

If you put in allergy information on badges for some children but fail to do so on others, teachers and volunteers could assume some children have no allergies when they actually do. If you put in allergy information, be sure to collect it for all children with allergies.

4. Untrained teachers/volunteers.

Your volunteers MUST be trained on check-in/check-out procedures prior to the launch of your check-in system. They must know the check-in process as well as how to compare parent badges to child badges. It’s also a good idea for them to collect the badges of children who have been checked out, in order to provide a record of who has already been checked out, should another family member arrive later to pick-up the same child.

5. Allowing unmonitored reprinting of badges.

Allowing someone to reprint a check-out badge, without being monitored, defeats the purpose of security. If anyone can reprint a badge at any time, then anyone can check-out any child. Establish a designated place for reprinting of lost badges and be sure to collect information on the person wanting the reprint, such as name, driver’s license number, and address.

6. Not making children wear their badges.

If children are not made to wear their badges, it could cause mass confusion at check-out time, especially for new volunteers who may not know the names of children. Encourage children to wear their badges at all times, and if necessary, put it on their backs where it is out-of-sight out-of-mind.

7. Allowing exemptions to check-out procedures.

Just because you may know every parent who picks up a child at your church now doesn’t mean you always will. If you want your children’s ministry to really be secure, don’t allow exemptions to anyone from the check-out procedures. It may cause some people to be frustrated in the beginning, but everyone will be thankful in the end when your children’s ministry is truly safe.

Can you think of any other security holes that could arise when using check-in software at your church? Maybe you have had an experience in the past where you have learned something like this the hard way. Let me know in the comments!

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GJ Farmer is a husband, a dad, the founder of ChildrensMinistryBlog.com, and is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in Somerset, Kentucky. He has completed a Bachelor’s degree in Church Ministries and a Master’s degree in Children’s Ministry. He has also been fortunate to lead and teach groups at children’s ministry conferences and to have had some of his writing published. Apart from working with kids, he enjoys reading, performing magic tricks, playing video games, and University of Kentucky basketball.

4 COMMENTS

  1. GJ – you are right on with this. With children’s check-in, the benefits and success truly come from a combination of the check-in system itself and how well the staff and volunteers use it.

    While KidCheck was built with child security in mind, and has all the critical features you mention – if everyone using it at the church isn’t trained and following the same specific process and expectations (i.e. not always matching security codes before releasing a child), they aren’t taking advantage of the full security benefits. In today’s world, with dynamic family changes, understanding both authorized and unauthorized parents, and consistently and completely using the security measures of a child check-in system are more important than ever.

    Here’s a best practice article your readers may find helpful that touches on the same topic. http://www.kidcheck.com/best-practice/need-childrens-check-solution/

    Thanks for sharing this insight and great reminders.

  2. Hello! All of this is so good, thank you. At our church we use a computerized system called ACS. Not really my favorite but for the most part it has thought through the majority of the above points, so thats good. One issue we are dealing with right now, is our Check-in Area is separate from individual classroom entrances. We struggle to know exactly who is in each room, and rely mainly on a head count. We are going to begin have a check-in list of kids that parents can just put a mark next to their name when they actually arrive to their room, this is in addition to the computerized check-in. Do you have any suggestions on how to best monitor who is actually arriving into each room (name tags are required) but other than head counts. Thoughts?

    Lastly, we are getting to a point of needing to shut down certain rooms because ratios are met, the only problem is there is no way on the computers (without closing the session) to see how many are being checked into each room. We are having to be more reactive than proactive, which raises a couple concerns; 1- we don’t want to move kids from rooms parents already dropped them off in, 2- our ratios are max, sometimes spilling over bringing in less trained volunteers to help. These being major safety concerns for me. Thoughts. Thanks so much for your help on this!

    • Thanks for stopping by and reading. My suggestion is to see if you can set up the computer software to give you a head count of the rooms. When they are checking in, they should be able to check-in to each classroom accordingly. I would check with ACS and see what your options are. Other than that, you are probably limited to doing it manually, if it needs to be done.

      I would say the best thing to do would be to try to get more trained volunteers to have on standby (easier said than done, I know). Doing so will allow you to be proactive and have people in place, should you need them.

      Without seeing your situation first-hand, it’s a little bit difficult to provide a good answer. Hopefully that helps. Thanks again for reading!

  3. One way check in, and more particular check in stations can be a harm to a child’s safety is by the station set up. Make sure a child and their families information is not accessible. Most systems allow a “unmanned” or guest station option that does not allow information to be viewed or changed. We select these settings as well so to not allow guests to just sign themselves in without having a trained volunteer carry out the process to ensure proper check in and pertininet information collected (and personal face to face interaction)

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