Safety and Security

Volunteer Handbook
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and Security

General Guidelines

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:

  • Consistently observe good, common-sense safety practices. Refrain from unsafe acts that could endanger themselves, the people they serve, or other workers.
  • Follow all safety regulations and procedures.
  • Use any safety devices provided for their protection.
  • Report any unsafe conditions or situations immediately to their supervisors.
  • Become thoroughly familiar with:
  • The location and operation of all available fire alarm pull stations, fire extinguishers, and any building emergency alarm systems.
  • The location of first aid supplies.
  • All emergency exits and building evacuation routes.
  • The identity of church members with medical or emergency response training.

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:

  • 911 (police, fire, and medical assistance).
  • Security and building maintenance contact person(s).
  • Church emergency responders (CERs), and/or individuals in the congregation who have emergency response or medical training.
  • Minister(s) to contact in event of emergency.

Transportation Safety

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):

  • Drivers must comply with all traffic laws and regulations.
  • Drivers and attendants are prohibited from the use, possession, or being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while traveling with children.
  • The number of passengers must not exceed that approved for the vehicle, and a functional seat belt must be available for each passenger.
  • Seat belts are to be used by all occupants of a vehicle at any time the vehicle is moving. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that all occupants are securely belted before starting the vehicle.
  • Personal use of church-owned vehicles is not allowed unless pre-authorized by the pastor or an appointee.
  • Circumstances which leave one child and one adult alone in a vehicle must be avoided.
  • Regular Sunday school routes should be arranged to keep at least one extra seat available in the van, in case a regular attendee wants to bring a visitor.
  • Vehicle accidents must be reported immediately to the pastor or the transportation supervisor.  

Child and Youth Safety

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 Selection and Monitoring

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.

Supervision Policy

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:

  • Be watchful and report whenever circumstances appear to be unusual or raise concern about potential risk to children and youth.
  • Ensure that any church-sponsored activity involving minors is staffed with an adequate number of qualified adults.
  • Follow the two-adult rule: no individual child is alone with one adult behind closed doors, or in a secluded location. All interaction between adults and children must be observable and interruptible. One adult is allowed to supervise a group of children (similar to the public school setting).
  • Redirect any two children observed together in a private or not-easily-viewable area to another more open area.
  • Make sure that children under school age are never left unattended.
  • Release children under school age from their designated activity area only into the care of a parent/guardian or parent-approved individual.

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.

Communication Policy

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.

Guidance and Discipline Policy

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:

  • Understand the norms for age-appropriate behavior. Have realistic expectations and make those expectations clear.
  • Be firm but loving. Avoid making threats, but establish consequences for misbehavior.
  • Use encouragement freely and reproof as sparingly as possible.
  • Model how children should treat others and resolve conflicts.

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.

  • Endangering the health and safety of children and/or staff.
  • Stealing or damaging church property.
  • Leaving the department or activity boundaries set by the staff without permission.
  • Continual interruption of the program.
  • Ongoing refusal to follow the behavior guidelines or instructions of the staff.
  • Continued use of profanity, vulgarity, or obscenity after being warned by the staff.
  • Physical violence.
  • Possession of tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs.
  • Possession of explosives of any kind (including firecrackers), firearms, or other weapons.
  • Acting in a lewd manner or exhibiting sexual behavior.

Physical Contact Policy

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:

  • Common expressions of affirmation, support, and comfort in distress are generally suitable in the church setting. However, these must be offered with discretion, maintaining awareness that what is appropriate for a toddler or early school-age child would be inappropriate for a pre-adolescent or older youth.
  • Any touch that could be viewed as inappropriate must be strictly avoided. Contact should be restricted to non-intimate, neutral, or “safe” zones, such as the upper arm or across the shoulders. Interaction with children and youth should never give an appearance of wrongdoing.
  • Physical contact must occur only in observable locations and in full view of others.  
  • Physical contact should be for the benefit of the child, and never be based upon the emotional needs of a staff member or volunteer.
  • A child’s expressed preference regarding physical contact must always be respected.
  • Staff members and volunteers are responsible for protecting children under their supervision from inappropriate or unwanted touch by others, including peer-on-peer.

Restroom Assistance Policy

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.


  • Only female staff members or volunteers are permitted to diaper children of either gender.
  • Children should be diapered at changing stations only.
  • A child must never be left unattended on changing tables.
  • Diapering should be done in plain sight of other staff or volunteers.
  • Any special instructions given by parents who leave children in the nursery or church program must be recorded in writing.
  • Children should be re-clothed immediately upon completion of the diaper change.

Preschool-age children:

  • Only female staff members are permitted to take children to the restroom.
  • Staff members will never take one child to the restroom alone. One adult may take two children at a time to the restroom, but only one child should be sent into a stall at a time.
  • When children are taken into a restroom, the exterior restroom door should be left partially open.
  • Young children are never left unsupervised in restrooms.
  • Children will receive the minimum amount of assistance needed, based upon their individual capabilities.
  • If necessary, children may be assisted in straightening clothing before returning to the activity area.

School-age children:

  • Staff members will never take one child to the restroom alone. One adult may take two children at a time to the restroom, but only one child should be sent in at a time.
  • If there is a need to check on an individual child, two staff members should go together. If a second worker is not available, the staff member should go to the exterior bathroom door, knock, and ask if the child needs assistance. If the child requires help, the worker should leave the exterior bathroom door open when entering the bathroom area, and try to verbally assist the child in completing their activities, while the child remains behind the door of the bathroom stall.

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 Policy

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

Abuse Prevention and Reporting Policies

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.

Definition of Abuse

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.

Prevention Procedures

The Apostolic Faith maintains a legally-approved risk management policy regarding children and youth. The following procedures are strictly enforced:

  • All church employees and volunteers who work with children and youth are screened, selected, trained, and certified according to the guidelines recommended by legal and insurance advisors.
  • Any individual who has been convicted of child abuse is prohibited from working with children in the Apostolic Faith Church. Allegations of abuse or other criminal offenses may also disqualify an individual.
  • Church employees and volunteers who work with children and youth are required to adhere to the procedures and guidelines established by the Apostolic Faith Church.

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.

What to Report

Reasonable grounds to report suspected abuse exist if:

  • A child says that he/she has been abused. This is known as “disclosure.”
  • A responsible individual states that a child is being abused.
  • There is basis for concern based upon physical, emotional, or other indicators of possible abuse.

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.

Steps in Reporting

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:

  • If the alleged incident occurred on site, make sure that the child is not in immediate danger. If the suspected abuser is present, separate the child and other children from that individual.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Reassure the child that he/she took the right step in telling.
  • Tell the child that people who can help will be notified.
  • Write down exactly what was said, noting the time, place, and context in which the disclosure was made.
  • Immediately report the alleged abuse to the department or activity supervisor, who will report the allegation in writing to the pastor.

Do not:

  • Make it apparent to the child that you are shocked.
  • Ask specific questions, as these could influence the clarity of the child’s memory.
  • Promise that the abuse will stop.
  • Conduct any personal investigation.
  • Share information with those outside the proper reporting channels.

Organizational Response to Allegations of Abuse

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.