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North Columbus Friends Meeting Child Safety Policy

Nurturing the spiritual lives and community of our young Friends is essential and it requires the work, energy, and dedication of an entire meeting. It also requires a safe environment. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally, our children must feel safe and be safe to grow in God’s light. One step that we take to create a safe environment is to provide Multigenerational Worship teachers and child care volunteers with guidelines and expectations concerning safety.

Guidelines and Expectations Concerning Child Safety

1. Adult and teen volunteer teachers need to be known to the meeting for a minimum of six months before they may be considered for teaching Multigenerational Worship. This gives the meeting and the adult time to get to know each other. It also ensures that the adult has had an introduction to the Quaker experience we hope to be sharing with the children. Working with the children of the meeting is a privilege, not a right, and may not be the best choice of service to the meeting for all adults.

2. All new teachers will be asked to provide two references who will be contacted by a member of the FDS committee. The references should be from someone outside the meeting who can speak to either the potential teacher’s work with children or the potential teacher’s general character and suitability for this task. The FDS committee will keep records of these references, and they will be kept confidential.

3. Teachers who are new will always be paired with seasoned teachers for both the purpose of exposing the new teacher to Multigenerational Worship and also in consideration of the children’s safety.

4. New teachers and child care providers who will work with children on a regular basis throughout the year will be asked to undergo fingerprinting and a criminal background check. The meeting will reimburse the individual for the cost of this process. The FDS committee will keep records of these results, and they will be kept confidential.

5. If we discover that someone has been convicted of a crime or accused of a child-safety related incident, we will handle these case-by-case, with a confidential clearness committee.

6. Occasional or substitute teachers and child care providers do not need to complete a background check. We ask that they remain in sight of other adults and children at all times and do not spend one on one time alone with a child.

7. Individual adults should not be in an isolated place with a child who is not his or her child.

8. Individual adults should not be in a room with the door closed with a child who is not his or her child.

9. Individual adults should not be alone in the bathroom with a child who is not his or her child. If a child needs help toileting, the door must be left open.

10. Adults working with children are encouraged to seek out parents in cases where he or she feels uncomfortable, such as changing a diaper, helping in the bathroom, or managing difficult behavior.

11. Multigenerational Worship will be randomly monitored and visited unannounced by members of the FDS committee.

12. Monitors must be able to see into the Multigenerational Worship spaces. Either the door must be left open, or Multigenerational Worship must be held in a space with visual access (i.e. a door with a window, outside, on the porch)

13. Adults caring for children have a moral, spiritual, and legal obligation to stay vigilant for signs of potential child abuse and neglect. Should abuse or neglect be suspected, the adult will immediately contact Franklin County Children’s Services Child Abuse Hotline 614-229-7000. Calling the Hotline does not necessarily result in an investigation or official report of child abuse, and one does not need proof of abuse in order to call the hotline. All calls are kept completely confidential. When in doubt, call, and the Hotline worker will help determine the next steps.

14. The FDS committee will hold yearly informational sessions about child abuse and neglect, so that all Members and Attenders are informed about signs of child abuse and neglect, and also so that all Members and Attenders are aware of their responsibilities, as members of a faith organization, for reporting child abuse and neglect.

15. This policy will be published annually in the newsletter, provided to each new teacher and child care volunteer, provided to parents in each new family, and published on our website.

In the event that a person in the meeting is accused or suspected of abuse or molestation towards a child, the following steps will be taken:

1. Immediately the child(ren) will be made safe. Parents should be notified and the child attended to in any way necessary.

2. The person who was identified as hurting a child will immediately be asked to refrain from interacting with the children of the meeting.

3. The Clerk of the meeting, the Clerk of Ministry and Nurture, and the Clerk of First Day School must be informed immediately. An incident report must be completed.

4. All adults with knowledge of the incident must file a report with Franklin County Children’s Services at 614-229-7000 within 24 hours.

5. A care committee will be set up for the child and the child’s family. A separate care committee will be arranged for the person identified as hurting a child.

6. The First Day School committee holds the trust of the meeting to discern the next steps and move forward with care for all involved.

Code of Conduct for Teachers and Child Care Providers

1. Adults should model respectful and nurturing behavior. Children will learn from this example.

2. Adults should set clear interpersonal boundaries with regard to physical affection. A general rule of thumb is that the child should be the one to initiate the physical affection, and the adult should be the one to end it. Adults should never intentionally engage in contact with the “bathing suit” areas of a child’s body. All persons have different comfort levels with touch, and adults should be sensitive to each individual’s boundaries.

3. There should be no sexualized behavior. Teasing and joking with sexual overtones and content is not acceptable.

4. Any relationship between adults and children that takes place outside of the Meeting should be undertaken only with the consent of the Child’s parent or guardian.

5. While adults are encouraged to respect the privacy of children and not abuse their trust, some information that children share privately cannot be kept secret. For this reason, please do not give children the impression that you will keep secrets for them. A good rule of thumb to tell children is this: “If you tell me anything about you or someone else getting hurt, then I have to tell someone else so that we can get help.”

Approved by North Columbus Friends Meeting, June 10, 2012.