The Apostolic Faith organization has put in place the following guidelines for young people who serve in church ministries and events. All youth workers who assist in any capacity must be familiar with these policies and agree to follow them.
Youth Worker Application Process
Prospective youth workers must have been in regular attendance at our church for at least one year, and be at least the age required for babysitters in the state if they will be involved in any ministry involving minors. The applicant must submit a Youth Worker Application form (designed for those who are under the age of eighteen). This form includes two personal references and a commitment to abide by the guidelines and policies established by the Apostolic Faith organization. It also includes parent/guardian consent and a release of liability.
The application form (along with any additional requirements established for the particular area of ministry where the applicant will serve) must be completed before the applicant begins assisting in any church-sponsored event. The application must be kept on file in the local church office for insurance purposes.
Youth Worker Responsibilities
Those who serve as youth helpers in the Apostolic Faith Church are required to:
- Read the Volunteer Handbook.
- Be thoroughly familiar with the guidelines established in this document, and in any Procedure Guidelines for the ministries in which they will serve.
- Be a role model for younger children at all times.
- Fulfill the duties assigned to them by the adult staff.
- Participate in any training required for assisting with the event.
- Act appropriately at all times.
Youth workers must be at least three years older than the children they work with, unless they are working in the same room with and under the supervision of a qualified adult staff member.
Attendance and Record Keeping
Complete and accurate attendance records must be kept of all youth workers who assist in church-sponsored activities. Current address and phone information, including emergency contact numbers, must be kept on file in the church office.
Guidance and Discipline Policy
Youth workers who participate in any church function involving children and youth must be thoroughly familiar with the Guidance and Discipline Policy detailed in the Procedure Guidelines for the ministries in which they serve. The key aspects of this policy are summarized below.
- If any disciplinary intervention beyond verbal redirection is needed, it must be handled by adult staff members.
- All children must be treated with dignity and respect. No one is allowed to spank, hit, or use any type of physical force with children.
- Youth workers are expected to be positive and uplifting in how they address children. Words that are harsh, unreasonable, shaming, or derogatory in any way are not allowed. Swearing or abusive language is strictly prohibited.
- Sexually-oriented comments or conversations are not allowed.
- If a child’s conduct endangers himself or others, the adult supervisor should be notified immediately.
Youth workers who participate in any church function involving children and youth must be thoroughly familiar with the Supervision Policy detailed in the Procedure Guidelines for the ministries in which they serve. The key aspects of this policy are summarized below.
- At least two adult workers must be present at all times in any children’s ministry program.
- Any circumstances that are suspicious, unusual, or raise concern about risks to children should be brought to the attention of the supervising adult immediately.
- Any two children playing together in a private or view-restricted area should be redirected to another more visible area.
- Children are not to be taken out of the designated department or activity area or immediate vicinity, except in the case of a pre-scheduled activity in another part of the building, or an emergency evacuation of the premises.
- Youth workers should report any biting, falls, or injuries to children to the activity supervisor.
Physical Contact Policy
Youth workers who participate in any church function involving children and youth must be thoroughly familiar with the Physical Contact Policy detailed in the Procedure Guidelines for the ministries in which they serve. The key aspects of this policy are summarized below.
- Physical contact such as an arm around the shoulder, pats on the back, guiding a small child by the hand, and comforting when a child is in distress are allowed. However, these should be offered with discretion and caution. Be aware that what is appropriate for a toddler would be inappropriate for a pre-adolescent or older child.
- Avoid any touch or gesture that could be viewed as inappropriate. Touch only non-intimate, neutral, or “safe” zones, such as the upper arm from elbow to shoulder, or across the shoulders and upper back.
- Make sure that your interaction with children takes place in the full view of others.
- Never touch a child if he/she is reluctant. A child’s expressed preference must always be respected.
- Refrain from horseplay, rough-housing, and/or wrestling with the children.
Restroom Assistance Policy
Youth workers who participate in any church function involving children and youth must be thoroughly familiar with the Restroom Assistance Policy detailed in the Procedure Guidelines for the ministries in which they serve. The key aspects of this policy are summarized below.
- 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.
- 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 assistance, 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
The following actions on the part of children in our care are not allowed, and could result in dismissal from church-sponsored activities and programs, though the pastor and ministry supervisor will work with the parent/guardian 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 followed by anyone serving in church-sponsored activities for children and youth.
- Common expressions of affirmation (an arm around shoulder, light hugs, a pat on the back), support (carrying, or guiding a small child by the hand), 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-aged 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. Physical 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.
Abuse Prevention and Reporting
The Apostolic Faith organization is committed to providing a safe, secure environment for children and their families, so we make every effort to safeguard the children who have been entrusted to our care. We have zero tolerance for abuse in church programs and activities. It is the responsibility of every staff member and volunteer in the Apostolic Faith work to act in the best interest of all children in every program.
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) For that reason, 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.
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.
The Apostolic Faith maintains and enforces 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.
Failure to report a prohibited act to the designated person is a violation of 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.
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.
Steps in Reporting
If a child or young person discloses that he/she is being abused, or his/her actions suggest 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.
- 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.