Your Church Nursery: Is It Safe?
Here are common sense suggestions for making your church nursery safer for children.
The visiting minister was appalled. How could a church have an open flame on the space heater in the nursery?
"If I brought my children here, I would turn around and never come back," the visiting minister told the pastor.
More and more parents are becoming concerned about the safety of children in nursery. As a former pastor, I dealt with concerns that parents and nursery workers had about the safety of the children. Here are a few common sense suggestions we have found that work.
1. Insist upon quality people as nursery workers.
Insurance companies and common sense demand that churches research the background of people working with children. Too often, pedophiles work their way into places where children frequent. I once heard of a pedophile that worked as a minister at a church. He sponsored a "sleep-over" for small boys. Unfortunately, the pedophile took advantage of that situation.
Also, a person does not have to be a pedophile to be a problem in a nursery. Sometimes, older women without the strength and younger girls without the maturity are allowed to work in nurseries.
2. Clean up your act.
A clean nursery makes parents happy and children healthy. Would you want to put your child into a run-down room with grime on the toys and two-week-old diapers in an open pail?
One minister's wife and other women of the church decided to spruce up their nursery. With some non-toxic paint, newer toys, clean carpet and tender-loving care, a nursery can be turned into an inviting place for children and mothers alike.
Use disinfectant spray on all toys and furniture after each use. Also, get bottles of disinfectant hand wash for the workers. That way, germs are not spread.
3. Limit who gets to stay in a nursery.
Many nurseries have policies on who can come to the nursery. If your child has had a fever in the past 24 hours, don't take them to a nursery. Use common sense.
Often, discipline problems come from older children being allowed to stay in the nursery. A four-year-old will often pick at a two-year-old. Some churches say that no children older than three can stay in the nursery. Other churches allow older children to be kept in different rooms than the younger children.
4. Know the parents of the children.
Never allow a child to go out of the room with someone other than a parent. In larger churches, parents are given ID numbers to show when they pick up the children. Believe it or not, some divorced parents will go to a nursery to abduct children that they do not have custody of at the time. Therefore, it is important to know the parents and give the children to the right people.
5. Provide enough space and equipment.
While as a pastor, I learned once that parents sometimes would turn around and leave church rather than leave their children in a nursery where there were too many children compared to the space provided. A crowded nursery makes parents uncomfortable.
Be certain that children have room to play, that they have enough beds for naps, that there are toys, games and books for all.
These suggestions are just a few to start the thinking process. Your insurance company, denomination and others may have other resources so you can develop a safer nursery. Just remember that nothing is more important in a nursery than the safety and health of the children. Those in charge of nurseries have a large responsibility. As long as they take appropriate responsibility, the children will be safer and happier.