One of the aspects of church life is to gather together. As churches gather they can also be vulnerable targets for people who intend to harm those who gather. We have created policies and procedures to help ensure that as people gather at River they can feel safe as well as know that their children are safe and protected.

This document outlines those policies. If you have questions about any of the safeguards that we have in place please contact rodney@nullrivercc.org

Click on one of the links below to access information regarding our safeguards.

Protecting Young Children

SEE SOMETHING – SAY SOMETHING

All volunteers in our the Children’s ministry are trained to speak up if they have concerns about any adult, child, or volunteer in the ministry. Each person volunteering is empowered to point out safety concerns.

Volunteers are instructed to speak to their ministry supervisor if they have a concern. The ministry supervisor in Super Church and River Next is Erin Bergeron and the supervisor in the Nursery is Stacy Zimmer.

If a volunteer brings a concern to Stacy or Erin, then Erin and Stacy would follow River’s procedure for handling an accusation or concern.

Volunteer Screening

All volunteers in the children’s ministry are regular attenders at River and agree to be involved in a River small group. Volunteers have been attending River regularly for six months before being involved with the Children’s’ ministry.

All volunteers are screened by the Children’s minister. The screening includes, an application, two personal references, and agreeing to complete a criminal background check.

Participating in the Children’s Ministry as a volunteer is a privilege and not a right. Anyone may be refused the opportunity to serve at the discretion of the children’s minister.

A regular audit of our screening processes is conducted by a staff member who is not involved in the Children’s ministry to ensure that all the screening guidelines are followed.

Volunteer Training

All volunteers are required to read and abide by the policies outlined in the our Children’s Safety Handbook. Any volunteer who does not follow the guidelines in the handbook will not be allowed to continue serving children at River.

Once a new volunteer is trained regular refresher training is provided to ensure that any new safety policies are followed and all old policies are understood and implemented.

A regular audit of volunteer training is conducted to ensure that all volunteers have completed necessary training.

Safety Policies

Supervision

No child in nursery, Super Church or RiverNext is left unattended during the service times.

All classrooms are visible to parents and the people supervising the Children’s ministry. In Super Church and next rooms have large windows so the whole room is visible.

Cameras are installed in childcare rooms that do not have windows for observation. The monitor for the camera is mounted in a public place and acts as a virtual window to these rooms.  

Classrooms always have two people available so that no volunteers is left alone with children. In the event that a volunteer is left alone with a child, the volunteer has been instructed to take the child to a public area or go to a room where other volunteers are present.

The Children’s Minister and Nursery Coordinator are always free to observe and enter any classroom at any time.

Additionally the River Security team (link to Security) patrols the perimeter of the building as well as the children’s area during service to ensure that there are no adults or children in the nursery or Children’s area who should not be there.

The security teams also checks all offices and adult meeting spaces on a random schedule to ensure that no one is in the rooms without authorization.

Bathroom Use and Diapering Children

Children who are potty-trained go to the bathroom alone. An adult will stand outside the closed door of the bathroom and provide assistance only if assistance is requested.

If a bathroom in the children’s area is not occupied the door will be left open.

Only female nursery workers or the child’s parent or legal guardian will undertake the diapering of children of either sex. Changing of diapers is done in plain sight of other nursery workers.

Diaper changing only takes place on the changing tables.

Emergency Response

Evacuation procedures are communicated to all the childcare workers and evacuation plans are posted throughout the building.

The Security team have trained and prepared to respond to weather emergencies, fire emergencies, and intruder emergencies.

Regular training of volunteers includes reminding them of emergency procedures as well as updating any new procedures.

Check in and Check Out

All children who come to Nursery, Super Church and River Next are checked into their classrooms with a computer system that provides a name-tag for each child.

Children are picked up by their parent or the person who checked them in from their classroom at the end of the service.

4th and 5th grade children are allowed to “check themselves out” of their class if they are given permission by their parent.

Discipline Guidelines

Volunteers with children are instructed to use time outs or to redirect children who are not acting appropriately.

If there is a severe discipline issue parents are notified immediately.

For more detailed description of these policies view our Child Safety Handbook.

Protecting Teens in Youth Group

River’s youth group consists of children in 6th grade to 12th grade. The youth group meets on Sunday evenings at River and often time has events away from campus as well meetings with youth sponsors.

As with protecting Younger children our Youth sponsors also are instructed to follow the guidelines of SEE SOMETHING – SAY SOMETHING. If sponsors have a concern about the behavior of a youth or another sponsor they are instructed to talk with Sherri Brummer the Youth Pastor at River. If Sherri is not available then sponsors will talk with her assistant. Youth sponsors with a concern are not to report to other sponsors or teens. Youth involved are also instructed to speak with a sponsor if they SEE SOMETHING of concern.

Screen Youth Sponsors

Youth sponsors are required to complete the membership process and must be members of River.

All Youth sponsors are screened by the Youth Pastor. The screening includes, an application, two personal references, and agreeing to complete a criminal background check.

Participating in the youth ministry as a volunteer is a privilege and not a right. Anyone may be refused the opportunity to serve at the discretion of the youth pastor.

A regular audit of our screening processes will be conducted by a River staff member to ensure that all the screening guidelines are followed.

Supervision and Transportation and Communication

Youth meet in small groups at the church. Each small group is led by multiple youth sponsors.

If a youth wants to have a private conversation with a sponsor the sponsor will leave the door open in the room or move to room with windows. Sponsors are trained to not be alone in an unobservable location with a student.

One on One Meetings

When sponsors meet students away from the building, they meet in public places where there are other people around.  

Youth leaders are instructed not to meet in cars or to have private conversations at places such as a park or parking lot.  They are instructed to move the conversation to a place that is more public such as the front porch or to taking a walk.

Peer Meetings

Meetings between youth at River occur in groups. Peers do not meet one on one as a part of regular youth group ministry.

TRANSPORTATION

All sponsors are instructed to coordinate with parents when meeting with a youth. If they are transporting a younger (non-driving) students, parents are informed of approximate times for pickup and drop off.

If transportation is provided by sponsor for special youth events then parents are notified and agree to allow students to ride with a sponsor to an event.  

TEXTING

Texting is an important way to connect with you. Sponsors are instructed not to text youth of the opposite sex one on one. If something needs to be communicated for the purpose of a project, it should be a group text.

Physical Interaction & Sexual Conversations
Brief Hugs or pats on the back/shoulders are allowed. Sponsors are instructed to not let students sit in their laps or have any more more intimate types of physical interactions. (shoulder rubs, back massage, etc.)

Talk about purity in a Christian context with middle school and high school students is an important part of their discipleship to Jesus. However, sponsors are instructed to not give details of their own personal sexual experiences.

CHURCH CAMP AND OVERNIGHT TRIPS

These types of outings are important for the development of the youth group and present their own special circumstances. This document cannot cover all the situations that might arise at camp and overnight trips. The above principles apply to these outings with special considerations made for bathroom use, showering, and changing clothes.

TRAINING SPONSORS

All sponsors are trained on the guidelines when they volunteer to help with youth. There is also regular refresher training provided to the youth leaders.

The training and screening process for youth sponsors is audited by a staff person who is not the Youth pastor to ensure that all the training and screening procedures are met.

Protecting Adults

Adult ministry is very different than ministering to Children. Children are by nature vulnerable. Adults can be vulnerable especially if a person of influence like a pastor or group leader tries to use their influence to take advantage of another person. The following guidelines are one’s that we have put in place to try ensure that adults providing spiritual direction and those receiving spiritual direction feel safe and secure.

ADULT MINISTRY SAFEGUARDS

River pastoral staff will not meet with a person of the opposite sex for ongoing counseling but only for the purpose of evaluation and referral. These meetings are held in locations with high visibility.

When meeting for the purpose of planning or supervision staff members and volunteers of the opposite sex meet in a visible location.

Male pastoral staff are accountable to the Administrative Council.

All adult group leaders are members of River and have attended the River Membership class and agreed to the procedure for Church Discipline.

Responding to An Accusation

All volunteers, staff, and responsible children involved in ministry at River are instructed to SEE SOMETHING and then SAY SOMETHING.

If a report is made how the organization responds is critical. Most of the errors that organizations have made in the past come as the result of leadership not following through when an accusation or concern is brought forward.

River will respond in the following way to an accusation of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, child abuse or neglect, and domestic abuse.

  1. An allegation of sexual misconduct or physical abuse by a person involved at River should be made to a member of the River pastoral staff.
  2. Any allegation will be communicated to the Lead Pastor (Terry Williams).
  3. Any allegation involving a crime will be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency within 24 hours. River will cooperate fully with law enforcement investigation. If the complaint involves child sexual or physical abuse, all reporting requirements of state and federal law will be met.
  4. The Lead Pastor will notify the Administrative Council of the allegation.
  5. The Lead Pastor will notify an independent third party of the allegations. The third party will take the lead conducting an inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct or physical abuse. The third party will serve on the Administrative Council as an advisor but is not a member or involved person at River.
    Currently the third party is Glenn Davis.
  6. The third party will direct any inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct or physical abuse. The inquiries will not be directed by the Administrative Council or River staff.
  7. In the event that the Lead Pastor is the subject of the allegation, the River pastoral staff member will report the allegation directly to the third party who will then notify the Administrative council and the Lead Pastor.
  8. All allegations will be documented by the River staff according to the checklist and procedure set forth for documenting any allegations sexual misconduct or abuse.