Keeping everyone safe in our local churches is an important process. There are resources available that can help your congregation do this right.
Training and Authorization for District and Conference Events
Training is imperative as a proactive way to keep our children, youth, and vulnerable adults safe, protect staff and volunteers from false accusations, and provides guidance if a complaint is made. Trainers are available from every district in Michigan to provide training to staff and volunteers on the Conference Protection Policy. All youth and adults working with children, youth, or vulnerable adults during district or conference events must be authorized, which includes attending the full training, completing all required paperwork, and a background check.
Staff and volunteers who want the quality training but do not need the Conference authorization are welcome to attend trainings. They do not need to complete the conference paperwork.
NEW Local Church Policy Template
Starting January 1, 2019 local churches can request a Protection Policy toolkit which includes a sample policy template, forms, and training recommendations. The template will provide basic wording and guidelines that you can customize to your context. It is recommended that a local church have your insurance company review your protection policy before adoption. A Conference trainer can come and help you train your staff and volunteers once your policy is ready to be implemented.
Child Care at District or Conference Events
At Annual Conference 2018, a resolution was brought that would require Districts and the Conference to provide child care at events where clergy are required to attend. This resolution was referred to the Protection Policy Team and was discussed at their September meeting. The committee’s recommendation is as follows:
Childcare for lay and clergy during local church, district, and conference meetings, trainings, and events is one way that we can be hospitable and welcoming to people of all ages. We encourage those who are planning events to include childcare when possible. While not mandatory, those who are planning events/trainings/meetings may assess if there is a need for childcare, if there are proper facilities at the selected location (or choose a location that is appropriate), and if authorized or trained care providers will be available.
Dependent care for members of a conference board, commission, or committee may be reimbursed up to $40 per day, per member (see section II.B. in the Michigan Conference Financial Policies 2018-2019). Dependent care for members of Annual Conference is explained in the Michigan Conference Plan of Organization in section 5.6.
The person responsible for the meeting/event/training is responsible for making the childcare arrangements (including proper childcare facilities, care providers, and arrangements for payment).
Childcare for district and conference meetings and events must meet the Michigan Conference Protection Policy standards. Childcare for local church/multi-church events may use local church protection policy with trained and screened providers. The cost will be up to the individual or team organizing the meeting or event. The cost could be covered by the church/district/conference, by the parent/guardian, or be shared.
The Conference Protection Policy Team understands the importance of quality care for dependents of clergy and lay persons and urges those who organize meetings and events to be cognizant of families with children. When childcare is not offered at an event or training, individuals are encouraged to contact their home church to provide appropriate childcare for their family whenever possible.
Staff Available to Assist Local Churches
As you decide the best way for your church to move forward, know that there is help available! Rev. Kathy Pittenger, Coordinator of Children’s Ministry Initiatives, and Bridget Nelson, Coordinator of Youth Ministry Development, are both working on the Conference level as resources to you. Judy Herriff is the Chairperson for the Protection Policy Team and Aritha Davis is the administrator assigned to the Protection Policy Team. Each of us is available to help you navigate this important process of keeping everyone safe in our churches. Kathy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Bridget can be reached at email@example.com and Judy and Aritha can be reached by calling the conference office at 517-347-4030.