Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling
Religious Education Safety Policy for Children and Youth

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling as a spiritual community is dedicated to the creation of a safe environment for all members and friends and their children. We recognize that our welcoming spirit, high level of trust, and strong reliance on and need for volunteers in children and youth programs, may leave UUCS vulnerable to incidents of abuse

Screening of RE Leaders:

  • All compensated workers, volunteer religious education teachers, and youth advisors must complete an application form, read the RE Safety Policy and the sign the Code of Ethics. All volunteers and staff working with children in any capacity must read the RE Safety Policy and sign the Code of Ethics.
  • All RE volunteers will attend training and orientation to the RE Program, policies, and expectations; and be provided a packet of materials that includes a calendar for the year, child and faith development info, suggestions for RE teachers, and RE program policies.
  • All RE teachers and other adults working with children and youth will have been an active participant at UUCS for at least six months or have references from other UU churches that include the Minister or RE Director.
  • Active participants are church members or contributing friends who are involved with committees, activities and or events.
  • Each classroom or activity must have two leaders. Each RE classroom and the nursery must have at least one adult over 21. Youth over age 12, may assist in classrooms and nursery with adult supervision.
  • Youth advisors must be at least 21years old.

Guidelines and procedures:

Building safety

  • A first aid kit with rubber gloves will be available on the supply shelf.
  • An escape plan and the location of the fire extinguishers will be posted near each classroom door.
  • Teacher training will review basic first aid skills and fire escape plans.
  • Children and youth will leave classroom or building only with parental permission and appropriate supervision.
  • Rough play and running are not appropriate activities inside church.
  • Institute “universal precautions” for handling body fluids and dealing with infectious diseases. (I.e. wash your hands, wear rubber gloves with blood exposure).
  • In order to minimize risk of infection to others, children should be symptom free from fever, diarrhea and vomiting for 24 hours before they return to church.
  • Always be sure to inform parents of any injuries or accidents. Document any incidents or reports of injuries or accidents and keep on file. Provide a written report to the DRE, Minister or Board President.

Child protection and safety

  • At least two leaders, including child care workers, should be present in each classroom on Sunday mornings, and on every outing, overnight, and other church-related activity with groups of children.
  • If any one adult is alone with a group of children at UUCS, the room shall be viewable through a window or the door to the classroom will remain open and the DRE or DRE-designated representative will check in with the group.
  • If an adult cannot be found to provide childcare for an adult or intergenerational event and parents will be near by, the DRE may determine that two or more youth may provide childcare. Two must be at least 16 years of age and provide proof of successfully completing a babysitting class. The DRE or a DRE designate will check in periodically.
  • If a teacher or youth group leader suspects or is made aware of child abuse or has a concern about a child’s safety and well-being, this information must be presented to the minister or DRE as soon as possible. If a teacher or youth group leader also suspects the minister and/or DRE, a report may be made to the Board President.
  • When an allegation of child abuse occurring during a church program is reported to the minister or DRE, the responsible person receiving the allegation should take the necessary steps to abide by VA law on reporting child abuse; and take appropriate action to assure protection of the children in the church.
  • Alcohol use is prohibited by adults who are responsible for supervising or transporting children or youth.
  • Smoking is not permitted in any church building, on the grounds, or during a children’s/youth outing or activity.
  • Children younger than fourth grade or younger than ten years of age will be released either to their parent or a parent-designated representative. They will not be allowed to leave unattended.
  • Parent or guardian is responsible for children before and after RE classes and before and after the scheduled time for childcare during special events.
  • With parent or guardian permission children may meet one-on-one with the minister.

Field trips

  • Parents must sign permission slips when children are leaving the church premises at any time. The destination and expected time of return must be posted. The leaders must have a list of names, emergency contacts, and medical conditions with them at all times.
  • There must be a minimum of two adults with the group. Activities off church premises may require higher levels of supervision than those within the church. For groups of children under five years of age there must be at least one adult or youth over age 12 for every four children. For groups of children in kindergarten through 3rd grade there must be at least one adult or youth over age 12 for every five children. For children in 4th through 8th grade there must be at least one adult over 21 for every 8 children.
  • All drivers must be covered by car insurance. All drivers must fill out an Application for RE Leaders of Children and Youth, including the driving section, and be approved by the DRE or minister. A list of approved drivers will be maintained on file.
  • Children must wear appropriate seat belts or use car seats/booster.

Updated 6/3/2009

Updated to reflect name change 1/16/2013