Many of you will be aware that we have been alerting people to a national UCA Child Safe Program that would be available online.
Principle 5 Recruiting and Support
By Rev Philip Gardner
Posted in Safe Church
I remember the first time I attended a Called to Care program, one of the take home messages that struck me was to not put someone in a leadership or volunteer position for at least six months. It sparked debate in the workshop, because people were of the opinion ‘If someone was keen why not use them straightaway?’
There are the positive reasons - giving people a rest before serving in your congregation; allowing people to build relationships and be appreciated for who they were; and there were the more cautious reasons – checking people out before appointing them into a role. So, to this day it remains a helpful rule of thumb for me.
Which brings us to Principle 5 that Child Safe Organisations seek to ensure that ‘their people are suitable to work with children and committed to child safety and well-being.’ Summed up as ‘recruiting and screening.’
When recruiting, whether volunteers or staff, it is best to be cautious. It is also good to consider what support someone will need to fulfil a role and how that support will be delivered, including identifying resources.
Clarity around expectations regarding child safety and well-being can be included in position descriptions for volunteers and staff, duty statements, selection criteria and when positions are advertised. When interviewing people for roles questions about the promotion of well-being for children can be asked and expectations about screening and mandatory reporting can be raised.
Even with volunteers it can be a helpful practice to ask for referees. Even a simple background check can act as a form of screening. Asking to speak to a leader whether they previously worshipped or volunteered can be illuminating. Sometimes the reluctance to offer such information can be a red flag.
Our congregations vary greatly with their experience and expertise in these matters. If you have concerns and questions, you can contact us at Placements and Safe Church. HR are always helpful when you are writing Position Descriptions for employment roles and can offer other advice. Your presbyteries may also offer helpful resourcing.
Although some of this can sound quite daunting it can be a great gift for a Church Council to spend time reflecting together on expectations of volunteers and leaders and how we support and resource them. Intentionally recruiting leaders and volunteers and supporting them well can be of great help, especially with their continued growth and in sustaining longevity in their roles.
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