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Off Campus Small Group Childcare
There has been a trend for churches to meet off campus to promote connectivity and community through home group ministries. These have been highly effective and the concept has spread throughout the church at large but with this, as with any ministry of the church, we are seeing emerging risk arise.
What the church may fail to realize is that they ARE responsible for this risk just as if it occurred on campus. And the greatest exposure with these home groups is the childcare they are providing.
When we visit with churches regarding home group childcare, we often find the home group has hired a babysitter from down the street (often a young teen) and they are keeping the kids upstairs, or otherwise away from the adults while the activities are taking place. If not this particular situation, it’s ones very similar to this. What many are not realizing is that this practice is falling outside the policies and written procedures that many churches have in place. Churches may contend that “this is just a home group, not church” but this is a common misconception.
Church home group activities fall under the covering of the organization’s policies and procedures just like the activities are taking place on site. If an abuse accusation were to occur and the sexual misconduct prevention guidelines were not adhered to that the church has adopted, the church’s own policy could be presented as “Exhibit A” and be used against the church. We must operate just as if the childcare were taking place on site and follow those same guidelines. Please see the attached whitepaper from Attorney, Frank Sommerville, who explains that the babysitters will likely be considered employees of the church and outlines additional valuable information to consider.
It is the highest and best practice to operate your church small groups just like they are onsite. This ministry is so important and we have a heart at Insurance One to help mitigate this risk. Please do not hesitate to give us a call at 281-350-6277 to see how our Risk Management Team can assist with your questions and help to better protect your ministry.