Nov24FriNovember 24, 2017
We are often asked how implementing a children’s check-in solution can benefit organizations where children are placed in the care of others. A check-in system provides enhanced security and is vital to child safety, yet the benefits and success truly come from a combination of the check-in system itself and how well the staff in the organization uses it.
Regardless of whether you are using an electronic solution or another method, certain tracking and safety measures are still a necessity. You must have accurate records of children checking in and out, know who is picking up the children in your care, be aware of any allergy or medical concerns and have a process to verify people are who they say they are, as well as a secure way of maintaining all documentation.
The Stark Reality
What are some of the real threats? Every year between 1.3 and 1.8 million children are reported missing in the United States alone, and the FBI records an average of 2100 new missing children cases per day. In Canada In 2016, there were 45,609 reports of missing children in Canada as reported by the RCMP using numbers provided by the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).
Most abductions are carried out by people who know the family and children – babysitters, boyfriends/ex-boyfriends (teen’s or, parent’s), classmates, and neighbors. Making it even more complex are today’s dynamic and blended family situations. An estimated one-third of children will live in a stepparent home before the age of 18 and 50% will have a stepparent at some point in their lifetime. An estimated 200,000 kids are abducted by a family member and 58,000 by non-family members; the primary motive is sexual exploitation of some type.
These statistics underscore the importance of well understood and documented child safety processes and procedures to improve security and combat these threats. Electronic check-in/out systems increase the level of security over a manual process with additional built-in security measures such as name badges, random security codes to be matched between children and guardians, immediate access to child and guardian locations, and detailed records on both children and guardians. Implementing a children’s check-in solution is just one way to improve security and combat these threats.
The Solution is Only as Good as the People Using It
Keep in mind, no check-in system will keep the kids in your care safe without the proper implementation, staff training, and design around the systems you use. The system and procedures you implement must be ones your personnel and volunteers can quickly understand, consistently use, and easily follow.
We are pleased to partner with KidCheck and recommend their services. Every day at KidCheck, the team has the opportunity to train, work with, and implement a secure children’s check-in system to help assist churches and childcare professionals with their child safety.
Heidi Hensley of Quail Lakes Baptist Church in California had a situation arise that put her check-in system, procedures, and team to the test. “We had a situation where two women tried to pick up a random child. Thankfully trained staff and the security tags with KidCheck worked – making lock-down and identification a cinch. We added KidCheck to our ministry almost a year ago and it has both complimented our existing safety practices and provided additional security features. Implementing KidCheck was almost effortless for our team as it is easy-to-use and was quickly understood by our leaders, volunteers, and parents.”
The Importance of Accurate Guardian and Child Information
Having up-to-date and proper information on all aspects associated with the children in your care is key to improving security. One unique feature of KidCheck is parent maintained accounts. The parents create a free KidCheck account, from the comfort of their own home. They provide all pertinent contact information for themselves and the children (including photos), specifically list authorized and unauthorized guardians, and note any medical or allergy alerts. Parents also maintain these personal accounts so you know the information is current and you don’t have to try to remember to make updates or track family dynamic changes.
Additionally, documents such as restraining orders, court orders or medical information associated with a child can be kept and tracked right in that KidCheck account for easy access. All this information is made available to an organization as soon as the child checks into that facility. Administrators for the organization than have access to all the information.
Dave Vainio in Montana has the first-hand experience with how a check-in solution with up-to-date, pertinent information improved safety at Helena First Assembly of God. “We had a situation where a dad, who had a restraining order against him, tried to pick up his daughter during one of our services. Had we not had KidCheck in place, there would have been nothing stopping him from getting his child and we would have had a major problem on our hands. The mom (who was a first-time visitor) was so grateful to us for not releasing the child.”
Perception is Reality
In addition to tangible improvements in child security, the perception of child safety you provide for your visitors, parents, and staff is extremely important. Parents and visitors are leaving what is most precious to them in your care and expect a safe and loving environment. They won’t feel comfortable attending and entrusting their children to your staff if they don’t feel it’s safe. Additionally, no employee or volunteer wants to be put in a position where the organization, or they themselves, may possibly be held liable for a child leaving with the wrong person. Not to mention the huge financial and legal liability if a child is harmed or abducted while in your care.
A check-in system like KidCheck helps instill confidence, implements a culture and environment of safety, and makes a loud and clear statement that your facility is safe, secure and takes the security of children very seriously.
Emergencies and Peace-of-Mind
At a touch of a button, electronic check-in systems also provide the ability to know which children are in your facility and exactly where those kids are. In case of an emergency, you need to know where each and every child is, and ideally their parent’s location as well. That knowledge allows you to more quickly and effectively enact emergency plans and contingencies.
Whether for an emergency situation or for more basic updates, parent communication is simple as well. The text messaging feature within KidCheck allows you to quickly, and privately, notify a parent if their child needs something or an emergency arises. Alternately it can also provide peace-of-mind that all is well, allowing them to relax and enjoy their time. Imagine the anxiety for a parent leaving their child in your care when the child is crying and very upset about the transition. Now imagine the relief and ability to refocus when they receive a text from you assuring them their child is now giggling happily or sleeping peacefully.
Guardians can also receive a text message to let them know each time their child is checked-in or out.
Check-In System + You = Winning Combination
Implementing a secure children’s check-in solution is an important step to improve security; however, it is truly the people behind the system that determine the ultimate security and success of that system. It’s folks like you – the children’s pastors, volunteers, childcare professionals, nursery workers, etc – who are truly the gate keepers for the safety of the children while they are in your care. Utilizing key tools, such as an electronic check-in solution, coupled with the proper execution, training, and expectation for your staff is a winning combination. KidCheck is at the frontlines of being a part of that process, those policies and the resulting benefits for all involved.
This article has been adapted by Plan to Protect™ with permission from KidCheck. It was first published as a blog on the KidCheck website.