July 17, 2020

Menlo Church email to families (Jul 17)

DEAR PARENTS,

By now, I am sure most of you are aware of the serious situation concerning a former student ministry volunteer. You can learn more here. As parents, you undoubtedly have questions and concerns. As a parent of three young kids, I carry the concern of children’s safety each day. In fact, every member of the Menlo Kids team has dedicated their lives to the physical and spiritual wellbeing of children. During this time, some of your questions may surround specific security measures put into place that help keep our kids safe. For that reason, we want to make sure that you have all of the information as it relates to safety in Menlo Kids. Menlo Kids exists to connect kids to Jesus so that they can follow him forever, but we know that unless our kids and leaders are safe, then nothing else we do matters. For this reason, we have put into place many policies, checkpoints, and safeguards to ensure that the people in our care are as safe as possible.

Menlo Kids is made up of dynamic volunteer leaders. These leaders help make our church personal and warm. It is because of these leaders that we are able to serve more than 1,000 kids every Sunday. Our volunteers are committed to creating safe places for kids to come back to again and again. To that end, every person applying to volunteer with kids must go through a rigorous screening process.

Volunteer applicants must:

  • Have attended Menlo Church regularly for six months, have completed our five-week Starting Point course, or have references from a staff leader at a previous church. (This ensures that those wanting to volunteer are known by others in the church and prevents quick access to children.)
  • Fill out an application.
  • Submit to a background check, which includes federal, state, and county criminal records and the national sex offender registry.
  • Give two personal/professional references that can attest to the applicant’s character and their ability to work with children.
  • Have a sit-down interview with a staff member.
  • Read the Menlo Kids Volunteer Handbook and sign a “Handshake Agreement” document stating they agree to practice the policies outlined.

In addition to our volunteer screening process, we also put in place policies as safety guardrails. Some of these strictly enforced policies include:

  • A two-person rule. Two adults must always be present with children. An adult is never to be left alone with a child. (Including in bathrooms and when changing diapers.)
  • Child check-in and check-out process. (Which includes parent claim tags and matching security codes.)
  • Doors locked during services. (In order to keep our rooms secure and to be better prepared in case of a possible intruder situation.)
  • Appropriate adult-to-kid ratios.
  • Menlo Kids Online Safety Protocols

Because we know the best prevention is the awareness of our leaders, throughout the year we offer continued training on safety and conduct. For further understanding of our policies, please read our Menlo Kids Volunteer Handbook.

We also wish to mention that Menlo Church is committed to initiating an independent audit of our systems and protocols. We have reached out to the organization, GRACE, and asked if they can perform this audit to help us make any necessary changes or additions to our procedures. You can learn more about GRACE here.

The leadership of Menlo Kids will continue to do everything possible to maintain that we are:

A SAFE PLACE

A JESUS-CENTERED PLACE

A PLACE TO BELONG

A PLACE THAT PARTNERS WITH PARENTS




John Garrison

Central Ministry Leader | Menlo Kids