What does children's ministry look like going forward?   

As ministries begin gathering, there are still many questions about how to safely and effectively teach children and youth. Some are continuing to do online activities or are holding special family services geared toward youth. Others may choose a phased-in approach to gathering youth and children. Each ministry will need to decide what’s best for their own congregation, but the following tips may help minimize the spread of respiratory illnesses as you consider how and when you’ll gather your children and youth.

Wellness Policy

As children’s ministry resumes normal operations, it is beneficial to provide parents and guardians of the children under your care with information regarding the church’s policies and procedures. Consider posting your policy at every door, as well. This helps communicate the steps you’re taking to minimize the spread of illness. It is important to note that while your ministry is taking care in its efforts to protect the children, the risk of exposure cannot be eliminated. It also helps parents understand your policy so they can prepare ahead of time. Consider the following points to include in your policy:

  • Don’t allow contagious children. Your policy should communicate that children’s ministry is off-limits to anyone who has had a fever in the past 24 hours. As an additional step, consider purchasing a touchless thermometer (scanning forehead is common) and check every child before allowing him or her into the room.
  • Volunteers who have been sick with any illness within the past 14 days or live with someone who is ill during the same time period should not be permitted to volunteer.
  • Child care operations should stay informed of social distancing protocols and recommendations for your area.
  • Implement a protocol of isolating a child when any symptoms of illness appear and develop a process to notify workers and parents that their child is ill.
  • Temperature check your volunteers before they can serve in children’s ministry.
  • Require volunteers to wear face masks and encourage face masks for children older than two years and youth.
  • Require frequent hand washing for all volunteers.
  • Require hand sanitizer for each child as he or she enters and leaves the room.

Social Distancing

Keeping children at least six feet apart is challenging. If your ministry is considering implementing social distancing, consider the following ideas and what may work best for your ministry:

  • Do you plan to start or continue virtual children’s ministry teaching to keep children and families engaged?
  • Does is make sense to start your children’s ministry activities in phases? Some ministries are choosing to start with older kids who are more likely to maintain distance, then slowly gathering younger children.
  • Does your ministry have additional classroom space to help reduce the number of children in a room?
  • Can you safely use your outdoor space for children or youth ministry?
  • Will your ministry open its nursery immediately or wait until later?
  • How will you modify your check-in/out procedure to achieve a touchless process and maintain distance?

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Similar to your plans for cleaning your sanctuary and common areas, you’ll want to consider your plan for cleaning and disinfecting your youth ministry rooms. Brotherhood Mutual provides tips about how to clean and disinfect your children’s classrooms: Read Article.

Communicating every measure you’re taking to maintain a clean and safe environment will help comfort parents as they drop off their children. Consider posting a sign on each children’s ministry door that says when the room was last cleaned and when the toys were cleaned, if applicable.

 

Posted May 12, 2020.

The information provided in this article 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. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.