In order to provide an environment where people of all ages feel safe, the Apostolic Faith organization has implemented policies which maintain our facilities and equip our church workers to be prepared for emergencies. Church staff and volunteers are the primary line of defense for ensuring the safety of those who attend our services, so all who participate in the work are asked to:
A list of phone numbers for crisis responders is available in the church main entry area and at other easily accessible locations throughout the building. The list includes the church address, and provides phone numbers for:
All drivers providing transportation to and from church-sponsored events in church-owned or privately-owned vehicles must be pre-authorized and meet the training requirements established by the organization. They are expected to adhere to the following general guidelines (specific directives are provided in the Procedure Guidelines for Transportation Providers):
Because it is our goal to ensure that all children are physically and emotionally safe while they are in our care, the Apostolic Faith has established policies regarding adult interaction with minors. When a church-sponsored event takes place away from the church premises, volunteers and staff must still follow all policies and guidelines; these detailed instructions are provided in the Procedure Guidelines for each area of ministry serving children or youth.
Parents have an open invitation to visit and observe all programs and activities in which their child is involved. However, parents who desire to be present on a regular basis must follow our behavioral guidelines for those who are involved with children and youth.
Staff and volunteers who work with children and youth are carefully screened before being allowed to participate. They must submit a Worker Application which requires three personal references and includes authorization for a background check, and are required to complete the online child/youth safety training recommended by the organization’s insurance provider.
Staff monitoring is done by the pastor, his/her appointee, Sunday school department leaders, and youth activity directors on a regular (announced and unannounced) basis, according to the insurance company’s guidelines.
A full description of the organization’s supervision policy is included in the Procedure Guidelines provided for all ministries involving children and youth. The basic supervision guidelines for those who serve in child/youth ministries are:
Youth assistants are required to work in conjunction with a supervising adult, and must be at least three years older than the children they work with.
All communication between church workers and minors must be appropriate, discreet, and positive. Children should never be addressed in a manner that could be construed as harsh, unreasonable, shaming, or derogatory in any way. No swearing or abusive language is tolerated.
Staff members and volunteers are prohibited from engaging in any private, sexually-oriented conversations with children, and are not permitted to discuss any sexually-explicit information about their own personal relationships, dating, or marriages with any child or youth.
The section of this handbook titled “Internet Safety” provides guidelines concerning electronic communication.
All staff and volunteers who work with children in Apostolic Faith Church programs are expected to follow established procedures for dealing with behavior concerns, and to treat every child with dignity and respect. Disciplinary action is to be carried out only by adult staff members. No one may spank, hit, or use any type of physical discipline with children. When a child misbehaves, time-outs and other non-physical methods of behavior management are to be used for redirection.
Those who work with children should:
Staff members should discuss with their supervisor any child who exhibits uncontrollable or unusual behavior. If chronic behavior concerns develop, the Sunday school department leader or activity supervisor will communicate with the parent/guardian. Repeated misbehavior could result in the restriction of attendance at church-sponsored activities, either temporarily or permanently. The following actions could result in dismissal from church-sponsored activities and programs, though the program director will work with parent/guardians to determine the outcome that is best for the child and the program.
The Apostolic Faith organization has a physical contact policy which promotes positive, nurturing relationships with the young people in our care while offering protection as well. The following guidelines must be adhered to by anyone serving in church-sponsored activities for children and youth:
We recommend that children in our early childhood programs be self-sufficient in toileting. However, there may be times when assistance is required. In such a case, the parent/guardian should be summoned to take care of their child’s needs if possible. If a parent/guardian is not present, the following procedure must be followed.
Children with special needs:
When children with special needs are enrolled in programs or attend activities at the church, the department leader or activity supervisor should discuss with the parent/guardian how toileting needs are to be handled. For Sunday school children, any special instructions or authorizations should be noted in writing and kept with the enrollment information.
Medication may be given to a child by a staff member or volunteer with a doctor’s prescription and parental permission. The medication, including over-the-counter medication, must be in the original packaging
We have a zero tolerance for abuse in Apostolic Faith Church programs and activities. While suspicions or knowledge of abuse are extremely difficult situations, we do not have discretion in this matter: we are legally obligated to immediately fulfill our responsibilities in accordance with state requirements. According to Oregon law (the state in which this organization is registered as a corporation), mandatory reporters include ministers and school teachers, along with law enforcement personnel and medical professionals (Oregon Statutes: ORS 419B.005, ORS 12.117). Staff members or volunteers who observe any policy violations or suspected abuse, or receive an allegation of abuse must immediately report the matter to their ministry supervisor or the pastor. It is the responsibility of every staff member and volunteer in the Apostolic Faith organization to act in the best interest of children.
In general, the term “child abuse” refers to any injury to a minor not caused by accident, which results in observable and substantial impairment of a child’s ability to function, including any injury which appears to be at variance with the explanation given of the injury. This includes sexual abuse or exploitation, negligence, maltreatment, or threatened harm to a child.
Staff members and volunteers should have a basic understanding of the characteristics of sexual predators and their behaviors in “grooming” a child for sexual abuse. Grooming is the process used by an abuser to select a child, win the child’s trust (and the trust of the child’s parent or “gatekeeper”), manipulate the child into sexual activity, and keep the child from disclosing the abuse.
The Apostolic Faith maintains a legally-approved risk management policy regarding children and youth. The following procedures are strictly enforced:
The Apostolic Faith reserves the right to immediately dismiss any volunteer or employee who is accused of violating the procedures and guidelines established by the organization.
Reasonable grounds to report suspected abuse exist if:
Failure to report a prohibited act to the designated person is a violation of this policy and grounds for termination of employment of an employee of the church. Volunteers who fail to report a prohibited act may be restricted from participation in any church activities involving children or youth.
If a child or young person discloses that he/she is being abused, or the child’s behavior suggests that abuse is occurring, staff and volunteers are instructed to take the following steps:
When the pastor receives credible information suggesting that abuse has occurred, he will immediately contact Children’s Services Division or the appropriate law enforcement agency in the state. He will also inform the Superintendent General of the allegation. The church will coordinate its internal investigation with the governmental entity involved.
A designated church representative will interact with legal counsel and insurance representatives, and will respond as directed to questions from the media concerning allegations of abuse or neglect. Other staff members should refrain from comment. During the investigation the alleged abuser will not participate in any church activities involving minors.
If the internal or external investigation results in credible evidence supporting the allegations, the pastor will impose appropriate disciplinary restrictions, which may range from dismissal from duty to barring from church attendance.