21 Must-Have Pastor's Tools: Child Security Systems

Electronic check-in systems can help keep children safe at church. (Alex Smith)

A children's check-in system provides enhanced security and is vital to child safety, yet the benefits truly come from a combination of the check-in system and how well the staff uses it.

Regardless of whether you are using an electronic solution or other method, certain tracking and safety measures are a necessity. You must have accurate records of children checking in and out, know who is picking up the children, be aware of any allergy or medical concerns and have a process to verify people are who they say they are.

Every year between 1.3 and 1.8 million children are reported missing in the United States alone. Most abductions are carried out by people who know the family—babysitters, boyfriends or ex-boyfriends, 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 percent 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 nonfamily members.

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Implementing a children's check-in solution is just one way to combat these threats. Electronic systems, such as KidCheck, increase the level of security over a manual process with built-in security measures, such as name badges, random matching security codes between children and guardians, immediate access to location information and detailed records on both children and guardians.

Because the solution is only as good as the people using it, no check-in system will keep children safe without the proper implementation, staff training and design around the systems you use. You must have vetted your volunteers, parents, employees; understand who authorized and unauthorized guardians are; and know where and with whom kids are at all times. The system and procedures you implement must be ones your personnel and volunteers can quickly understand, consistently use and easily follow.

Having up-to-date, correct information also is key to improving security. One unique feature of KidCheck is parent-maintained accounts. Parents easily provide the necessary family information, as well as keep it up to date, without you needing to do the input.

In addition to tangible improvements in child security, the perception of child safety you provide is extremely important. Parents and visitors won't feel comfortable attending your church and entrusting their children to your staff if they don't feel it's safe. 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.

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. At KidCheck, we are honored to be part of that process, those policies and the resulting benefits for all involved.        

Alex Smith is CEO of KidCheck (kidcheck.com), secure children's check-in solutions. He is a data security and child safety expert, church safety team leader, former police officer and consultant to the Air Force and FBI on data security and cyber terrorism.

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