by Laura Sellakandu
Children and Family Ministry Coordinator
Lorne Park Baptist Church, Mississauga, ON
As the associate pastor of children’s ministry and pastoral care, I consistently work with the vulnerable sector and subscribe to the safe practices policies. We live in an era where safe practices should not be taken lightly or sheepishly. At Lorne Park Baptist Church, we have a Risk Management coordinator who promotes, advocates and enforces the safe practices of Plan To Protect. In support of his role I inform and encourage my team to adhere to the requirements of receiving training to serve in their capacity.
Staff and volunteers who interact with the vulnerable sector are required to complete the Plan To Protect training modules which covers a variety of topics like best practices for children’s programming, best practices for disability initiatives, best practices for youth programming, abuse prevention and volunteer care. I am a firm believer that one protects through awareness of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. Additionally, we protect our children through implementation where screening personnel happens even if they are members of the church, with the completion of a face to face interview, submission of background interview form and police check.
This procedure renders support for ensuring children, youth, those with disabilities and vulnerable adults are all protected. These are essential training tools that benefits all parties. The vulnerable sector receives care, support and ministry from someone who has been trained to uphold policies and standards that ultimately seeks their best interest. Volunteers and staff can protect themselves by implementing training tools and furthermore receive legal protection from the church insurance. (The legal coverage from the church insurance is binding only if the individual has taken the trainings.) Hence, I do not take this training lightly! In addition to protecting vulnerable people, these procedures are in the best interests of volunteers and staff in the event of a lawsuit. I feel it is very important to build awareness through training in my church, and endeavour to reduce any occasion for accusations.