If you’re a ministry leader, you’re responsible for creating a safe environment for the children in your care. To be most effective, ministry leaders should plan ahead and develop policies and procedures that balance the interests of the infected minor against the ministry’s responsibility for the overall health and safety of all children and ministry workers.
An infectious diseases policy involving minors in educational settings should include any legally required and general “best practices” guidelines for handling infectious diseases.
Churches can adapt The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to meet the needs of their ministry situations. Brotherhood Mutual also has developed a sample Infectious Diseases Policy, which includes standards adapted from CDC guidelines, attendance standards, and other logistical information.
Guidelines related to including or excluding minors from church programs should follow those set by the CDC and state and local health departments. Any infectious diseases policy you develop should itemize specific symptoms of short-term illness that would exclude a minor from ministry activities. If a ministry decides to accommodate a child with a chronic communicable disease, a special medical needs agreement can facilitate the child’s participation in ministry activities.
Generally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) excludes religious organizations or groups controlled by religious organizations from complying with the law’s requirements. However, ministry leaders must still review federal, state, and local laws to determine any anti-discrimination requirements that the law applies to their organizations.
Ministry leaders should be sensitive to the privacy of minors with chronic, communicable diseases and encourage parents to voluntarily notify the church if their child has such a disease. A church can limit its risk of being the target of a privacy suit by making sure that private health information is shared only with ministry workers on a “need to know” basis. Ministry leaders also should be aware of any legally mandated reporting requirements to state or local health departments or regulatory authorities when the church is aware of a minor with an infectious disease.
Ministry workers should be aware of signs and symptoms of illness, and know procedures for handling sick children, standard guidelines to reduce the spread of infection in a child-care setting, and emergency care protocols.
Ministry workers should be aware of signs and symptoms of illness, and know procedures for handling sick children, standard guidelines to reduce the spread of infection in a child-care setting, and emergency care protocols. Provide workers with regular training in first aid and CPR as well as relevant legal issues involved in handling minors with infectious diseases.
Church leaders should consult with a local attorney who can provide guidance on the many complex legal issues involved in developing an infectious diseases policy and the related forms and procedural guidelines. An attorney also can provide advice concerning the associated federal, state, and local laws; as well as the legal risks involved when working with children who have infectious diseases.
For more information, read the associated article: Foresight Trims Risks Linked to Illness among Children in Ministry Settings
*Important information: Brotherhood Mutual is pleased to provide Legal Assist as a complimentary resource. The services we offer through Legal Assist are intended to provide general legal information to our current and prospective policyholders.
The information we provide is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. Accordingly, no attorney/client relationship is created through this process, and no legal advice will be provided. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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