Greetings! As you may or may not have heard by now, there are lots of changes coming with the Protection Policy as the West Michigan and Detroit Conference work to become the Michigan Area Conference January 1, 2019. Much of the information is the same, however the procedures have changed. What does that mean for you?
Here’s how it affects you at the local church:
- Each church can elect to send one or more representatives from their church to take the new training in order to go back to their local church and develop or revise their current protection policy.
- Each church will be required to have a protection policy on file with the District by February 1, 2018. If you have a current one (written/revised within two years – Jan 1 2015 or later), it can be submitted anytime to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The local church will be responsible for creating their own training based on their policy and training ALL individuals who work with children, youth and vulnerable adults in their church.
Here’s how it affects you at the District Level:
- All previous certifications at the District and Conference level, no matter when they were issued, expire on Dec 31.
- You will be REQUIRED to renew this authorization in order to work with children and youth. This would include if you are going on a district planned youth/young adult mission trip, district youth retreat, want to get paid to provide child care at district events, volunteer at a district children’s or youth event, etc.
- Getting authorization includes attending a 4-hour training and completing paperwork for the Conference. Once your paperwork is complete and background checks are done, you will receive a card that authorizes you to be with children and youth for three years.
The first training opportunity will be on Nov 9th (10 am – 2pm, Saginaw Bay District Office, register to Tina) will be geared towards those who need authorization to work with children, youth and vulnerable adults at the Cass Community mission trip, the Snow Kidding Youth event or are participating in the District Confirmation or wish to provide child care for the Feb 3rd or April 21st District event (paying opportunity).
More authorization sessions will be held after the first of the year. Class sizes will be limited to 12 participants so as to allow adequate discussion and Q & A time.
If you are writing/updating your policy, here are some factors to consider including:
- CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY and get information on what/who your insurance covers and what language needs to be in your plan. Not all plans cover volunteers, so double check your coverage.
- Background check timelines for all paid staff and volunteers who work with children (how often? State? National? DHS?)
- Sick policy for the nursery and any Sunday school, mid-week programs
- An inclement weather policy/cancellation process
- When/who will be responsible for training your church volunteers on your protection policy and how often
- Transportation guidelines in the event of field trips, travel to district events or youth functions
- Permission and medical forms
- Reporting procedures
- Communication plan
- Injury prevention/age appropriate toys
- Infection control
This is not an all inclusive list, however some topics you might not have considered. If you have any questions on updating your policy, please contact me at my email or phone.
Have a super day!
Saginaw Bay District Children’s Ministry Coordinator
Frequent questions asked…
How often should our church give a Protection Training?
Your church Protection Policy should specifically indicate how often persons should take a training, who should take it, what forms are required, how often background checks are needed (Detroit Conference of U.M.C. recommends every 3 years) and if a test is required.
What is the legal standard for reporting in the State of Michigan of an incident of abuse and/or neglect?
The Michigan Child Protection Law requires you to file a report when you have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect. This is an extremely low legal standard. It is important to keep in mind that the State of Michigan – D.H.S. Department of Human Services is responsible for investigating reports of suspected abuse and neglect and for determining how each case progresses. It is not the reporters responsibility to determine whether or not abuse or neglect actually occurred. A report must be made whenever you suspect that abuse or neglect may have occurred.
State of Michigan – Liability for Failure to Report
If you fail to file a report of suspected abuse or neglect, you will (could) be subject to both civil and criminal liability.
You are Legally Protected in the State of Michigan, as a Good Faith Reporter
When you file a report in good faith, based on the well being of a child, youth or vulnerable adult, you cannot be held liable for any person for any damages they may suffered.
A Reporters Identity Must Be Kept Confidential
When you file a report with D.H.S., your identify may not be shared with any person, unless you agree to that disclosure or a judge orders such a disclosure. Your identify may be disclosed to a child protective agency, a law enforcement agency that is investigating the alleged abuse or neglect.
What constitutes child-youth or vulnerable adult abuse or neglect?
Physical Abuse – Harm or threatened harm to a child through injury by a person responsible fo the child’s health or welfare. Examples of physical abuse include beating, kicking, punching and burning.
Neglect – Harm or threatened harm to a child’s health or welfare that occurs through either failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care or placing a child at unreasonable risk to the child’s health or welfare by failure to intervene to eliminate that risk when the person is able to do so and has or should have knowledge of the risk.
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation
Engaging in sexual contact or sexual penetration with a child (as defined in the criminal code) constitutes sexual abuse. Sexual exploitation I defined as allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution or to be depicted in a sexual act (as defined in the penal code)
Treatment of a child that involves cruelty or suffering that a reasonable persons would recognize as excessive. Example include forcing a child to eat dog food, as a punishment, locking a child in a closet, or teaching a child to assist in criminal activities.
When Reporting –
A report by phone must be filed immediately (up to 24 hours) by calling State of Michigan – Department of Human Services at 1-855-444-3911. *It is important to have those in your church that saw or heard a potential abusive situation or an abusive situation to stay at the church or off site church activity, until the verbal report and written report have been completed.
Church Mutual Insurance – Safety Tips On a Sensitive Subject
True cases, indorsed by law firm – Hermes – Sargent – Bates