Take Heat From the Parent Now...or the Prosecutor Later!

This happened in our city this past week. It reminded me again of the importance of having a security pick-up system in place and sticking to it.

Children's Ministry security systems. Parents like them...until it inconveniences them.

We've all had it happen. It's pick up time...the hallway is crowded with parents picking up their kids (which is controlled chaos at times)...it's noisy...there is line of parents waiting...a child has seen their parent through the window and is crying for mom...and suddenly the dreaded happens. A parent has lost their security tag!

You calmly explain that they must have their security tag to pick up their child. But things escalate quickly. They become impatient...their decibel level rises...other parents begin to stare...you start sweating...pressure to bend your security system pushes to the surface. You being to rationalize why it will be okay to bend the rule this one time. You want to take the easy way out and not have to take heat from the impatient parent. I've been there...many times.

But...you have to take the heat. Here are some tips when taking the heat.
  • Remember that the safety of the children trumps everything else.
  • Don't match the parent's rising decibel level. Bringing your voice down can help calm them.
  • Move the parent away from the pick-up door and to a quiet place. This will help prevent a scene in front of the other parents and keep the pick-up line moving.
  • Explain to the parent the purpose of the security system.
  • Walk with them to your guest services (or where you have access to your data base) and look their family up in the data base.
  • Make sure the parent is on the approved "pick-up" list.
  • Verify who dropped the child off before class. This can be done by writing the child's name and parent's name down as the child enters the classroom.
  • Have the authorized parent who dropped the child off show proof of I.D. Their driver's license is the best way to do this.
  • Have the parent fill out a "missing tag" form. Who likes filling out forms? This will "encourage" them to not lose their tag again.
  • After you have verification, walk back to the room with the parent and help them check out their child.
  • If the parent leaves upset or agitated, do a follow-up call that week to let them know you love them and are there to partner with them in keeping their child safe (I had to make one of those this week).
  • If the parent was extremely upset or agitated, it's usually a sign that they have other pressures in their life that are causing them to bring the heat at church. Look for an opportunity to pray with and minister to the parent during the phone conversation.
  • Train your staff and volunteers to know what to do in situations like this.
Don't like taking heat from a parent that is being inconvenienced? Tempted to bend the rules now and then? Tempted to take the easy way out once in awhile?

Just remember this. It's better to take heat from a parent now than to be taking heat later from a prosecuting attorney because a child was taken from your church due to lack of security system enforcement.

Posted by Dale Hudson