Checklist for a safe and successful restart of children’s ministry 

As summer transitions into autumn, many churches are gearing up to resume their children’s ministry. While the excitement of reuniting with young members fills the air, there are some important steps to take to ensure a safe and efficient restart.  

Here are key considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to welcome children back into your church: 

  1. DBS checks: The safety and well-being of children should always be a top priority. Now is an ideal time to verify that all staff and volunteers who will be working with children have undergone the required Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.  
  1. Safeguarding policy review: It is advisable to review and update your church’s safeguarding policy annually. Take particular care if your church has experienced growth or introduced new ministries like toddler or youth groups since the last review.  
  1. Safeguarding training: Refresher training for your church’s safeguarding lead, staff, and volunteers is good practice. Christian Safeguarding Services (CSS) provides valuable resources and training materials to keep your team up to date with the latest safeguarding practices. CSS has produced a briefing paper on “Church and Your Safeguarding Arrangements” that can be viewed or downloaded here
  1. Trustees involvement: It is recommended that safeguarding updates be a regular topic at your church trustees’ meetings. Consider nominating a trustee to actively support your safeguarding lead to ensure that safeguarding remains a top priority in the decision-making process of your church. 
  1. Insurance and liability: Before reopening your doors, ensure that your insurance policies are up to date and comprehensive, including public liability cover. This safeguards both your church and the children involved in ministry activities in case of unforeseen incidents. 
  1. Fire Risk Assessment (FRA): Provide training to your staff and volunteers on your plans for handling emergencies such as fire. Check your Fire Risk Assessment is up to date.  If there is a change in circumstances at the property or your activities, then it would be appropriate to review the FRA. Advice from third-party specialists suggests that reviewing the FRA annually would ensure that people remain mindful of its provisions. 
  1. Electrical safety: The summer break can be a good time to conduct Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on your electrics. This helps identify and rectify potential electrical hazards, ensuring a safe environment for children and adults alike. 
  1. Legionella checks: If your church building has been left unused for an extended period, consider performing legionella checks on the water systems. Stagnant water can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria, and routine checks are essential to maintain water hygiene. 
  1. Communication and training: Keep open lines of communication with parents and guardians, informing them of your plans and safety measures.  
  1. General risk assessment: Conduct a thorough risk assessment of your premises, taking into account any potential hazards that may have arisen during the break.
  2. Food safety: Whether you just serve the occasional tea and biscuits or hearty meals to the multitudes, you will want to ensure the food is safe and does not harm anyone.  Refresh your knowledge and best practice around food safety and allergens.

Adding these extra steps to your preparations not only shows that you are committed to keeping children safe but also creates a secure environment where parents and guardians can feel confident leaving their children in your church’s care.