The members of Graham Community Church desire to take every reasonable precaution to protect minors from abuse and protect volunteers and paid staff from allegations of abuse in the church context.
Church liability insurance companies and church law experts have forcefully pointed out the church’s vulnerability to lawsuits. In addition, it is most important that parents know their children are trained in a safe environment while at Graham Community Church.
In light of these concerns, the church has adopted the following policies to protect our children and staff.
1. Screening: All staff who work with minors, volunteer and salaried, will be screened. The screening procedure is outlined below:
a) A screening form (application) and consent for criminal records check
b) May involve a personal interview with a trained, responsible staff member
c) May Involve Reference checks
All screening will be done with complete confidentiality.
2. Two Adult Rule: Two adult supervisors will be present during any church activity involving minors. When it is necessary for a worker to spend time alone with a minor, parental permission will be obtained in advance. In the event that a worker must teach a class or lead an activity alone, a supervisor will check the classroom at random, unannounced times. A small child will be escorted to the restroom by a woman or two adults.
3. Six-Month Rule: Workers have attended regularly for at least six months before working with minors.
4. Supervision: All programs involving adults working with minors will be closely supervised. Any classroom setting will be subject to random, unannounced visits by supervisors. Windows will be installed on classroom doors.
5. Record Keeping: Records are to be kept of all children and staff present at any church function where parents are not present. Records will also be kept of any minors present in any vehicle used for a church function.
6. Outside Activities: All outside activities sponsored by the church or a church group must be reported and/or approved by proper church authorities before the events. The person in authority who approves the event will assure that it meets the requirements of record keeping and multiple adults.
7. Minimal Physical: Contact Adult leaders must have minimal physical contact with minors in their care. In the present legal climate hugs and physical contact (such as allowing a child to sit on your lap) are at best very unwise, and can be grounds for accusations which are virtually impossible to prove untrue. Infants and toddlers can receive attention when needed.
8. Criminal Abuse: No one convicted of child abuse or molestation will be allowed to work with minors. If an applicant for youth work was accused of abuse but not convicted, the situation will be handled on an individual, personal basis in conjunction with proper authorities.
9. Reporting Policy: All allegations of child abuse will be taken seriously. Church staff will comply and fully cooperate with state authorities to investigate any allegations. Situations will be handled forthrightly with due respect for people’s privacy and confidentiality. The victim will not be held responsible in any way.
By law, members of clergy (staff pastors) are mandated to report suspected abuse with Child Protective Services (CPS).
All volunteers at Graham are encouraged to report suspected child abuse. You may report to either a staff pastor and/or directly to Shiawassee County CPS 989.725.3200 (days) or 989.743.3411 (after hours) or 800.942.4357. Details regarding this reporting process are available on-line at www.michigan.gov/dhs and in the church office.
Reporters who place a verbal report will be asked to follow-up within 72 hours with a completed form. Forms are available in the Graham Church office. The identity of a reporting person is confidential under the Child Protection Law. No investigation is requested of the reporting person.
Potential abuse situations may include physical abuse; sexual abuse; child maltreatment; mental injury; neglect. For more specific information, please review the CPS web site or documents available in the church office.