Out of all the ministries in your church, the children’s ministry faces the most potential threats on any given Sunday. From emergency plans to equipping teachers with unlimited snacks to keep children happy when the pastor’s sermon goes a little long, the processes set in place for your children’s ministry are all important. One of the most critical, however, is child check-in.
Keeping an up-to-date record of children who are in attendance every week is part of each state’s child safety regulations. These regulations have been established to help any child care facility protect their children to the best of their ability, and this includes your church. So are there specific ways you can enhance your child check-in to be more effective? Absolutely! Our experts have gathered the top tips to follow when it comes to child check-in.
10 Child Check-In Tips for Churches
1. Create a Separate Space for New Families to Register
Rather than registering new families at the regular check-in location, designate a space that is separate but easy to find. During this registration be sure to get the children’s names, ages, and allergies alongside parents’ names, emails, and phone numbers. If you have a church management system that is connected to your regular check-in process, any pertinent information, such as “allergic to nuts” can be printed on their name tag so teachers stay in-the-know.
2. Strategically Place Volunteers in High-traffic Areas Near Your Child Check-In
Asking volunteers to stand in high-traffic areas creates opportunities to direct lost parents or lost children. These volunteers should have several campus maps in their hands that they can provide to parents who need directions. The more you show parents you are there, the more comfortable they will feel.
3. Clearly Identify Your Volunteers and Staff
Whether it’s a brightly colored name tag or the same shirt, unifying everyone who works in the children’s ministry helps parents know who to go to in case they have a question. It also helps children know who they can go to in case of an emergency.
4. Hire a Security Guard for Child Check-In
Having a security guard stationed at the child check-in enhances your church safety to any parent who drops off their children. If possible, find a security guard who is trained in identifying predators and other harmful situations involving children. Having an experienced officer protecting your ministry aids in making sure the wrong person doesn’t have access to your children.
Pro Tip: Check out these interview questions that can help you identify predators in the hiring process.
5. Find a Strategic Check-In Location
The child check-in for your church’s children’s ministry should have one way in and one way out for parents. This ensures no one enters without passing through that entry and helps make sure all children stay in the appropriate areas.
6. Create a Single Check-In for Families
A mom with five children should not have to go through the check-in process five times while her children wait not-so-patiently beside her. Save the stress on your parents and create an easy check-in system that allows parents to check in their whole family in one quick sign-in.
7. Make Your Check-In Digital
Creating a digital space to check in each child speeds up the process. Your church management software should provide a desktop check-in experience. Elexio offers an app, which can be installed on a PC or Mac, to make check-in ready to run in a single click. Setting up check-in is now easier than it ever was before. You can devote your Sunday morning to engaging with families instead of troubleshooting technology.
8. Empower Parents to Check-In From their Phones
Chances are, families sometimes (ok, most every time) will be running late. It’s the nature of getting children out the door and to any given activity at a specific time. Set your check-in up so that regularly-attending families can check their children in from their mobile devices. It will prompt name and bag tag printing so that you’re ready and waiting for them with a smile as they rush in the door.
9. Be Prepared with Extras that Parents will Find Useful
One practice to consider is equipping parents with appropriate items to assist teachers in the classroom. When a parent registers their child, there are a few things you can give them:
- Brightly colored badges to place on diaper bags or backpacks
- Sheet of printed labels parents can use on a child’s bottle, drink containers, snack containers, or anything else that needs labeling
- Spill-proof cup
- Children’s Bible
These items not only help teachers know who items belongs to, but it also helps welcome new families!
10. Double Up on Check-Ins and Use a Check-Out Process
The initial child check-in is an important focus for your church safety, but that’s not the only child check-in your church should have. It’s also important is creating an additional check-in for each classroom once the parent drops their child off. In the case of an emergency where everyone needs to evacuate immediately, teachers can grab this classroom list to make sure the right children are where they need to be once they arrive at a safe location. You will also need a parent’s phone numbers handy so you can be sure and let them know their child is safe and where to pick-up their child. Here is the full list of information you need to obtain at each classroom child check-in:
- Date and time
- Child’s name
- Child’s allergies
- Parent’s name
- Parent’s phone number
- Additional information
Beyond check-in, remember to set up and use a check-out system so you know exactly when a child left your care. Elexio offers check-out, even if you don’t use RFID, now available using a name, phone number, or barcode.
Additional Things to Keep In Mind
Our experts have diligently studied children’s ministries to discover best practices. These tips are important not only to keep the children in your ministry safe but also to keep your church safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Follow State Mandated Safety Protocols
Insurance companies are watching the practices your church follows. If your church is not up-to-date with the current childcare safety procedures set forth by the state, then insurances are likely to drop your coverage. If your coverage is dropped and something happens within your ministry, your church could be facing a difficult financial downturn.
Make Visitors Feel Safe
The more focus you put on church safety in your child check-in and check-out process, the more comfortable visiting families will be when trusting you with their children. The more comfortable they feel, the more likely they will visit again.
Don’t Slack Off
Predators and individuals who do not have the child’s best interest in mind are good at discovering weaknesses in a child-care facility. The more slack you have in your children’s ministry, the more you’re opening to the threats predators impose.
If you are interested in learning more about the advantages of a church management software with child check-in, contact us or start a 60-day free trial (no credit card required).