With the start of a new year, it’s important to understand child safety trends and new opportunities churches can take advantage to better prepare for challenges, improve effectiveness, and increase child protection.
In 2019 many child and youth-focused organizations invested in prevention tools, increasing collaboration with incident response teams, and prioritizing training and education. 2020 will be the year many organizations fully implement what they learned and fine-tune the processes around current tools.
Top Child Safety Trends and Predictions
Experience Drives Loyalty
Leaders who oversee child and youth ministries know that families make connections through their experiences. 2020 will bring in a hyper-focused experience-driven culture both now and in the future. Families function in a new reality, one that dictates prioritizing child safety 24×7. Due to this shift, they are always watching. Create a proactive and preventive culture they can see and experience. This will be a big reason they choose to stay or go in 2020.
If anything, 2019 revealed security breaches, safety concerns, leadership scandals, and a myriad of distrust around a lack of volunteer and staff screening for child-centered organizations. 2020 will bring a renewed focus on reestablishing trust both inside and outside the organization. As leaders gain more knowledge on the proliferation of abuse, they’re better prepared to address family questions and concerns and offer real-time solutions that improve child safety.
Align for Credibility
Leaders often think of their teams as only direct reports or the individuals they see daily. Offering a high standard of protection is a big job and difficult for only one person. Aligning with cross-ministry teams to leverage expertise or establishing a Child Safeguarding Committee to reach your safety goals, are smart ways to leverage resources. Security teams, HR professionals, CPR trainers, first responders, or others with a safety emphasis are great sources of knowledge to tap. Utilizing people with skills beyond what you have to offer increases credibility and provides families a sense of comfort that you’re serious about establishing safety and you are not trying to do it alone.
Communication & Collaboration
2020 will usher in a whole new level of required content and frequency of communication with families from staff, volunteers, and leadership, which will contribute to creating a proactive and preventative culture (mentioned above). Prioritizing a weekly connection through email, social media, and or text for those in your organization and with families is important. Provide updates, changes to policy and guidelines, reviews, potential threats, or safety tips and tricks. This is good information to share and helps keep the priority on improving safety, get everyone on the same page, and allows for better preparation in the event of an incident.
Consistency Is Key
Consistency is an essential element of safety! It doesn’t matter if you have families that have been with you a while or new ones you’re welcoming. Consistency with process, policy and guidelines shows watching families that you won’t deviate from your stance on safety no matter what the situation is your facing. Families like to know processes won’t change because the situation does. An example of this is check-in and check-out. Check-in is the front door to your church, and if it’s chaotic or doesn’t exist, families more than likely won’t choose to stay. A well-designed check-in and out process provides order, safety, and important trackable data.
By the Numbers
Good data is vital to making improvements, tracking attendance, balancing staff, and demonstrating you’re running the organization well. Nevertheless, the term good data can be subjective. 2020 will usher in the need of customizable, digitally stored data that is accessible from anywhere. Leaders will work to increase their understanding of ratios and trends to make informed data decisions. Features such as custom reports, on topics such as statistics, graphical charts, attendance, roster, and health/allergy management reports will be top of mind.
Tools, tactics, and data will be the stars this year. Ask yourself, is my ministry poised to take advantage of these new opportunities, and if so how?