Cornerstone

Purpose

The policy of CORNERSTONE regarding children who are entrusted to the care of the church fellowship is to provide a safe and secure environment where they are treated with respect and care. Additionally, the policy of CORNERSTONE regarding every person who works with children and youth (ages 0-18) is to protect them from suspicion and from accusation of harming children without due process.

General Provisions

1. All persons who desire to work with children and youth shall complete a ministry application and be approved by the Elder overseeing the Children’s Ministry at CORNERSTONE.

2. CORNERSTONE distinguishes four types of adult persons (18 years or older) who may work with children of youth.

3. Every group of children under 18 years old must have at least two adults present at all times. This may include two workers, or one worker and one helper. If there are not two workers or one worker and one helper available the person in charge of the ministry shall be informed.

4. Parents are welcome to observe their child in any class or club. However if parents desire to participate on a regular basis, they must complete a ministry application and screening process and receive permission from the Elder overseeing the Children’s Ministry.

5. All children in Kindergarten and below shall be “signed-in” by a parent or guardian and may only be picked up (and “signed-out”) by a parent or guardian. If another person is to pick up the child, a note must be left with the nursery worker when the child is signed in.

6. When a classroom is in use the main door shall always remain unlocked. Blinds or curtains shall remain open whenever it is possible. During evening hours a light shall remain on unless some part of the ministry program requires them to be turned off. (i.e. media presentations or special games).

7. When taking children to the restroom workers shall enter the restroom only to assist a child when absolutely necessary. It is requested that two workers be present and that the outside door remain open.

8. Workers and Helpers shall use proper judgment when having physical contact with a child if they must hold or restrain a child, they shall not do so in an angry or harsh manner. They shall not spank children. All other touching and or hugging should be done in the presence of another adult in an open classroom.

9. If an approved worker desires to meet with a child individually, he/she must receive oral or written permission from the parent, specifying what time the child will be picked up and returned, and where they will be. The meeting shall be in a public place.

10. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 may assist in the nursery ministry if they are approved by the Elder overseeing the Children’s Ministry. Two adults (see #3 above) must also be present with the children.

Screening

1. The general policy of the pastors/elders of CORNERSTONE is that workers must be members of CORNERSTONE before working with our children or youth. On the occasion that a new attendee or non-member would like to help, they must fill out an application, be interviewed and at all times be with an assigned regular worker until they have completed the membership process. (see General Provisions #2)

2. All workers and helpers with children and youth, whether volunteer or paid, shall complete a background check/fingerprint screening to be administered by CORNERSTONE. Evaluation of the screening will be confidential except that members of the church leadership with protection responsibility may be made aware of the contents of the screening form.

3. All workers and helpers shall receive training in the appropriate methods of working with children, in the steps and principles of this policy, in the identification and reporting of possible abuse and symptoms of abuse and in the necessity of immediate response.

4. Matters of Review and Disqualification:

Reporting For Volunteer Workers and Helpers

1. All volunteer workers and helpers shall immediately document and report the following as well as any other indication, which may suggest the occurrence of child abuse or neglect.

2. A written report shall be made to the Elder overseeing the Children’s Ministry, another pastor/elder or other persons in leadership positions in the children’s or youth ministries (i.e., Nursery Coordinator, Awana Commander, MOPPETS Coordinator). WORKERS AND HELPERS SHALL NOT TALK ABOUT THIS INFORMATION WITH ANYONE ELSE.

3. The person receiving the report shall immediately, together with the initial reporter, gather the pertinent information (complete the CORNERSTONE Suspicion of Child Abuse Form) on all reports of suspected abuse.

4. If the person receiving the report is a volunteer at the church, they should confer with the Elder overseeing the Children’s Ministry and/or another pastor/elder to determine whether Child Protective Services (CPS) should be contacted.

Reporting For Paid Workers

1. If a person is employed as a church pastor or as a childcare worker they are a “mandated reporter” and required by law to report any suspicion of child abuse to Child Protective Services at 800-540- 4000.

2. After reporting the matter to CPS the mandated reporter is required to complete and submit the “Suspected Child Abuse Form” created by the State of California, which is available in the church office. You have 36 hours to submit this form.

3. If the suspected abuse is within the home of the child, the employee is strongly urged to report the incident to a pastoral/elder after calling CPS. This enables pastoral care to be offered to the family.

4. If the suspected abuse involves a paid or volunteer church worker or helper a report must be made to pastors/elders and to law enforcement authorities.

Reports Against Church Workers

1. If a paid or volunteer worker or helper is suspected of physical or sexual abuse against a minor at CORNERSTONE, the Elder overseeing the Children’s Ministries, one of the other pastors or another person in a leadership position in the children’s or youth ministries must be contacted immediately. THIS MATTER MUST NOT BE DISCUSSED WITH ANY OTHER PERSON.

2. The person contacted shall document the suspicion by filling out a “Report Form For Suspicion of Child Abuse By A Worker or Helper”.

3. The person contacted shall then contact one of the pastors and a Child Protection Committee shall be constituted (see below).

4. The worker shall be informed of the investigation and be immediately placed on a leave of absence. A police report will be filed.

5. If the suspicion is valid, the church will provide pastoral care and intervention care for the victim and their family.

6. If the worker or helper is exonerated in the matter, he/she will be reinstated into his/her position.

Handling of Reports

1. In the event of a child abuse report against a paid or volunteer church worker or helper the elders of CORNERSTONE shall control the flow of communication relating to the incident and shall act as the communication link with the affected constituent groups: the victim and their family; the accused and their family; members of the immediate constituent group within the church (parents of other children in the program or classroom); the congregation; the public; the media; and law enforcement agencies. The elders shall choose one person to whom all inquires will be directed. Receptionists are to be informed to direct all inquires to the designated person. No one else is to talk about the matter.

2. The elders may engage the services of a lawyer knowledgeable in the field of child protection and abuse, and a psychologist or psychiatrist knowledgeable in the field child abuse.

3. The elders shall conduct an internal investigation to determine two things: if the accusation is true; whether the matter is an isolated incident. The elders shall also cooperate with law enforcement personnel in their investigation.

Training

All paid and volunteer workers and helpers of CORNERSTONE who work in any capacity, directly or indirectly with children and youth shall receive training in the detection of suspected child abuse and the implementation of this policy. They shall receive a copy of this policy and shall sign a statement attesting to familiarity with the said policy.