Keeping parents informed and providing leaders with information about children and young people is an important part of making our ministries safe. You should consider the following:
You could send out a general letter to parents / carers at the beginning of each year to inform them of who the leaders are, what the group is about and any child protection matters, for example your policy on drop-off and pick-up arrangements.
Providing parents / carers with regular information about activities will allow them to make informed decisions about their children. Consider sending out a newsletter each term.
You should have an attendance list so that you know which children were in attendance on a particular day. It also helps you see when kids have been away for a while so that you can get in touch to see if everything is OK.
You should have a registration form for activities where parents are not present (such as Holiday Club, Mid-Week Kids Club and Youth Group) so that you have all the information you need about a child or young person. You might like to adapt this Registration Form template.
You should have a sign-in / sign-out sheet for activities involving children where parents are not present. This should be signed by parents / carers or other authorised adult as provided on the registration form. It is very important that children are not allowed to leave with a person other than those approved by their parents / carers. You can use this sign-in / sign-out form or make one of your own.
You must use the insurance approved permission note / liability release for all hazardous activities. Hazardous activities are deemed to be: abseiling / rock climbing (indoor and outdoor), billy carting / go carting / riding on the back of utes, bungy jumping, bush walking (on and off track), kayaking / rafting / canoeing, caving, cross country running (on and off track), fishing (in boats and on rocks), high and low ropes activities, horse riding, ice skating / sliding and surfing, initiative and challenge tasks (problem solving games, sporting challenges), mechanical rides (eg. bucking bulls, etc.), obstacle courses, orienteering / regaining (map and compass navigation), paint balls shooting, parachuting, parasailing, scuba diving / snorkelling / surfing, skiing, snow boarding, swimming (fresh and salt water). The NSW document is provided for you here.
You must have a permission note for all activities that are off-site or involve travel of any kind. An example of an off-site or travel permission note is provided for you here.
Remember, you need to keep records in a secure place as they contain personal information. You also need to keep them until the children participating reach 25 years of age so set up a good filing system now.
The Code of Conduct states that you will not drive a child or young person unaccompanied. This is not intended to stop you doing ministry with children or young people. It is intended to make you stop and think about how you do it so that the risks associated with driving children and young people unaccompanied are minimised.
This point of the Code can be changed, with the approval of Session, who will formally record the change as a minute. To make the changes, Session will:
assess the risk involved,
if necessary, obtain appropriate written permission from parents and / or guardians,
determine the people, times and places to be included in the provision,
set a period of time for the change to be valid, and
amend the Code of Conduct poster, brochures etc for the appropriate group.
Before a child or young person travels with a group or is driven in a car or bus by a person associated with the church for any reason, you must have a permission note signed by the child or young person‘s parent / carer. An example of an off-site or travel permission note is provided for you here.
You must consider the following before you provide transport of any kind:
There must never be more passengers in the car than there are functioning seat belts.
All vehicles used must be registered and in good working order.
All drivers must be licensed. It is preferable that all drivers have their full license; however where it is necessary for a driver with a provisional license to provide transport this will be clearly stated on the permission note so that parents can make an informed decision.
All drivers must be aware of their responsibilities to provide safe transport and take every precaution to ensure that their passengers are safe.
If you provide food as part of your ministry activity you need to think about food safety. Food can be dangerous if it is not handled, prepared and stored correctly. Food borne illnesses are unpleasant at best and food allergies can be fatal. Children are particularly vulnerable.
Food regulations are governed by local government and you will need to consult your local Council for any special requirements. The following are some general guidelines adapted from the New South Wales Food Authority.
Watch out for raw and cooked meats, dairy products, seafood, unpasteurised juices, ready packed salads and vegetables, cooked rice, pasta and products containing raw eggs. This doesn‘t mean that you can‘t use them, just be careful when you are cooking, serving and storing them.
You need to be aware of children and young people who are allergic to certain foods, such as peanuts and peanut products. If you have someone in your group who is allergic, the best thing to do is exclude these foods from your menu. You should also ensure that the children do not share food or utensils, and that the use of food in play or craft activities is restricted.
You can get more information from www.allergyfacts.org.au
Keep it clean
Bacteria can live on your bench tops and chopping boards. Keep it under control by following these steps:
- Wipe all scraps off
- Wash with hot soapy water
- Where possible soak for at least a minute in very hot water or for bench tops spray them with sanitizing solution following the directions on the label
- Leave to drain, air dry or wipe with paper towels. Don‘t use a tea towel!
You also need to make sure your kitchen is generally clean and kept free of vermin.
Keep hot things hot and cold things cold
Bacteria that cause food poisoning grow rapidly between 5°C and 60°C. Keep hot foods hot in the oven / food warmer and cold foods cold in the fridge and don‘t leave them at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Don‘t reheat food in a food warmer as it doesn‘t get hot enough use an oven. If in doubt, throw it out!
Anyone involved in preparing food must remember:
- do not prepare foods for others if you are ill,
- cover any lacerations or wounds with a brightly coloured bandage, tape or plaster,
- remove all jewellery;
- do not eat, drink or smoke whilst preparing or serving food;
- wash your hands with warm, soapy water and dry with a paper towel (not a tea towel) before and after working with food,
- tie back or cover long hair with a net or cap,
- wear suitable, clean protective clothing, and
- use clean chopping boards and utensils each time you prepare a new type of food.
When serving or displaying food …
- All food must be wrapped or covered when on display.
- Self service food must have tongs, spoons, etc ready for people to serve themselves without touching the food directly.
Running an event or selling food
If you are planning an event, you should appoint an Event Co-ordinator to ensure that council requirements are met and volunteers understand their role in food safety. You should also keep a record of who supplied the food.
You can get more general information from the NSW Food Authority at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au, or for national guidelines here. If you want information about food allergies go to Anaphylaxis Australia at www.allergyfacts.org.au.
During activities it is not uncommon that a child or young person may have a mild complaint such as a headache and request a non-prescription medication e.g. paracetamol. These non-prescription medications should only be given when the child or young person‘s parent / carer has given permission, either on a registration form or verbally following a phone call at the time. An example of parental permission is provided for you in the sample registration form.
In some instances you may have a child or young person attending an event or a programme who needs to use prescription medication. For example, a diabetic or a child taking antibiotics. In this case the parent / carer must provide clear, written instructions and permission.
In the case of chronic illnesses, for example, diabetes, epilepsy, allergies or anaphylaxis which may require ongoing medication, emergency medication treatment or first aid, all appropriate leaders should be informed and aware of what is required. If necessary, a first aid plan and emergency management plan should be provided by the child‘s doctor.
All medication, both prescription and non-prescription, should preferably be administered by a leader with a First Aid Certificate. Two leaders must be present and the medication checked against the label on the bottle (including the expiry date) and the information on the registration form. If there is a discrepancy the medication must not be given. A record must be kept of what was administered, when and by whom. An example of a Medication Authority Form is provided for you here.
Medication is administered only if it:
is provided in its original packaging, complete with instructions,
bears the child‘s name,
has a current use by date,
the name of the prescribing health professional, doctor, naturopath, homeopath etc. and a emergency or first aid management plan (where appropriate) is provided, and
a parent / carer has given permission.
Medication must be stored in a separate, childproof container and refrigerated where necessary. A record of administered medication also needs to be kept.