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Community Commitment

As Friends we treasure, respect, and value our children and youth, recognizing the Light of the divine that shines in each of them. Whether we work directly and frequently with our children or interact with them occasionally, all Friends have a role and responsibility in the spiritual nurture, care, and development of the Meeting's children and youth. In setting down this policy, we acknowledge that each of us influences the environment and opportunities we provide for our children.  

 

The Chatham-Summit Quaker Meeting endeavors to provide an environment that assures the physical and emotional safety and supports the spiritual growth of all of our children and youth as well as all of our workers with children and youth. We will follow reasonable safety measures when selecting and recruiting workers; we will implement prudent operational procedures in all areas of programming and care; we will train our workers with children and youth on our procedures and policies; and, for reporting a suspected incident of abuse, we will have a clearly defined procedure that conforms to Quaker principles and values as well as to New Jersey law.

With God's help we seek a community where no child is at risk for emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, where no adult is at risk for false accusation, and where all our interactions with each other reflect respect and love for one another. 

Selection of Volunteers and Paid Staff

 

Volunteers

Volunteer staff are defined as unpaid Meeting members and attenders who have official responsibility and a charge from the the Meeting for planning, leading and supervising classes and program for children and youth as well as those who assist with classes or programs for children and youth on a frequent or regular basis. All members of the Religious Education Committee are considered volunteer staff for children and youth programs. 

 

All volunteer staff who work with children and youth will:

  • Be at least 21 years old

  • Complete required training/orientation on Meeting guidelines and NJ Law for child care and safety

  • Read and sign the Meeting's Code of Conduct, attached below.

  • Read and sign waivers giving permission to conduct a criminal background check, at the Meeting's expense.

  • Have been a member or regular attender of Chatham Summit Monthly Meeting for at least 6 months

Exceptions will be made for:

  • Parents who are new attenders who may join a class or program with their child as an observer, as long as there is a regular volunteer who meets the requirements listed above and below

  • Guest adults brought in for specific lessons who are supervised by regular volunteers in the classroom

 

Paid Staff

All paid staff who work with children and youth will:

  • Be at least 21 years old;

  • Complete and sign an application and the related waivers giving permission to check references and background information;

  • Read and sign the Code of Conduct, attached below;

  • Provide the names and contact information of 3 personal references;

  • Participate in required training/orientation on the Meeting guidelines and NJ Law for child care and safety;

  • Undergo a criminal background check, at the Meeting's expense.

Exception will be made for professionals who have NJ licenses for professions/jobs that require background checks (e.g., teachers, social workers), upon presentation of a valid, up-to-date state license.

 

Maintenance of Records

Waivers, signed codes of conduct, references and results of background checks will be maintained in confidential, locked files by the Clerk of the Religious Education Committee. 

 

Whether a volunteer or paid staff, any individual who has been convicted of physical or sexual abuse or neglect may not work in any Meeting-sponsored activity or program for preschoolers, children, youth, or vulnerable adults.  

Guidelines for Conduct of Programs and Activities for Children and Youth

 

In all activities involving children and youth sponsored by Chatham Summit Monthly Meeting, 

  • It is our goal that a minimum of two adult workers will be present in the classroom or program area at all times.

  • In cases when two adults are not present in the classroom for part or all of a class/activity, the door to the classroom will be left open and the activity will not take place in a secluded or private place.

  • An adult who has gone through the screening and training process will be identified as a “roamer” who checks in periodically on all classes, to escort children to the bathroom or to their parents and to make sure no youth have isolated themselves in any part of the building.

  • Children and youth will be checked into and out of a Meeting-sponsored activity by their parent or legal guardian or person(s) authorized by parent/legal guardian.

  • Attending adults will have access to a cell phone when groups are at or away from the Meeting facility.

  • When one-on-one interactions must occur (as in diapering of young children or counseling/conference), there must be a window on the door or the door to the room must be left open.

 

At any activity for children or youth sponsored by Chatham Summit Monthly Meeting, any parent or regular attender of the Meeting has the right to visit and observe the activity or classroom, at any time, unannounced. 

 

Restroom guidelines  - Children should be escorted by an adult to the bathroom. After checking to make sure the bathroom is empty, the adult should allow the child inside. The adult should remain outside the bathroom door and escort the child back to the classroom. If the child needs assistance, the adult should prop open the bathroom door or stall to provide assistance---or a parent may be summoned to help with toileting.

 

Off-site actvities - When children or youth are transported to a Meeting-sponsored program or activity off site from the meetinghouse, 

No youth under 21 may drive to/from the event or program

At least two adults must be in any vehicle transporting children or youth

Drivers are required to meet the same screening and training requirements as other volunteers. 

 

Hosted activities -  When Chatham Summit Monthly Meeting hosts an activity involving children or youth from another Meeting or community organization, the group(s) attending and using the Meeting facility will read and sign an agreement to follow the guidelines and policy for child safety established by the Meeting. 

 

Parent Community – Parents are partners in assuring children's safety. Parents are asked to complete information cards with pertinent medical information and emergency contact information. These cards will be kept on file maintained by the Clerk of Religious Education near the classrooms.

 

The Meeting's practice is to provide child care for worship and meeting-wide activities; if no child care is going to be provided, announcements should make it clear that parents will be responsible for providing or arranging for care as needed. During coffee hour, committee meetings or when child care is not provided, parents are reminded not to leave their children unattended. 

 

Accidental Injury – For minor injuries, adults will provide First Aid as appropriate and notify the parent when the child is picked up from class/child care. If injuries require medical treatment, the parent will be immediately summoned and, if warranted, an ambulance called. For any injury requiring professional medical treatment, the adult in charge will complete an incident report.  

 

Training – To insure that all child-care workers and teachers are informed about this policy, the Religious Education Committee will arrange training about abuse prevention that will be given at least once annually, with additional training and information made available as needed. In addition to receiving copies of the policy and printed behavioral guidelines prior to serving, child care workers and teachers will be informed about mandated reporting of abuse and respectful methods of behavior management. The training is mandatory for anyone who works with children on a regular or frequent basis and for all members of the Religious Education Committee. It is also available to any member of the CSMM community who wishes to take it. 

Responding to Allegations of Child Abuse

 

For the purposes of this policy, “child abuse” is defined as any action (or lack of action) that endangers or harms a child's physical, psychological or emotional health and development. Such abuse may occur as:

  • Physical abuse  - any physical injury which is not accidental, such as hitting, shaking, spanking, burns, biting;

  • Emotional abuse – injury that occurs when the child is not nurtured or provided with love and security, as in an environment of constant criticism, shaming, belittling, and persistent teasing;

  • Sexual abuse – any sexual activity between a child and an adult; or between a child and another child at least four years older than the victim, including things such as fondling, inappropriate touching, sexually oriented conversation, exhibitionism, pornography, intercourse;

  • Neglect – deprivation of essential needs, such as food, shelter, medical care;

  • Verbal abuse – hurt that comes from words that are degrading; being subjected to threats, profanity or obscenities;

  • Bullying – can be physical, verbal, relational or cyberbullying.

 

Reporting abuse - If a suspected incident of any kind of child abuse is revealed to or observed by any Friend – whether volunteer, staff person, or Meeting member/attender –  at a Meeting-sponsored activity, the Friend will:

  • Act quickly to insure the safety of the child or youth, as by removing the child from the situation or acting to stop the behavior;

  • Promptly inform the child's parent(s), unless the parent is the suspected abuser;

  • Inform a member of the Response Committee for further action;

  • Beyond reporting to a parent and a member of the Response Committee, keep the matter confidential. 

 

Response Committee

The Response Committee is comprised of the Clerk of the Meeting, Clerk of Ministry & Counsel, Clerk of Oversight, and Clerk of Religious Education. If one of these committee clerkships is not filled, then the Clerk of the Meeting will select a member of that committee to serve. If the suspected/alleged abuse involves any one of these clerks or a relative of the clerk, that clerk will not serve on the committee during the time it responds to the incident. 

 

Upon being informed of possible abuse, the Response Committee will:

  • Respond seriously and promptly to all allegations;

  • Notify the parent(s);

  • Document the allegation and set up a file to contain all records and documents related to the allegation; this file's content will be held in strictest confidence, to the extent allowed by law. 

  • Ensure that the Meeting's insurance company is notified;

  • Determine whether the alleged abuse is of the type requiring mandatory reporting to state officials; if the matter meets that threshold, the Clerk will contact the NJ Department of Children Protection and Permanency (DCPP), 1-877-652-2873.   

 

In addition to responding to the allegations with alacrity and seriousness and complying with the law, the Response Committee's responsibility and concern is for the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of all persons involved and, whenever possible, the restoration and healing of relationships. To that end, the Response Committee will:

  • Listen deeply and seriously to all connected with the incident and alleged abuse;

  • Discern the appropriate and fitting action(s), that, on a continuum of responses,  might include:

  • Setting up a committee of care for the child/youth and parents, and a separate committee for the accused;

  • Retraining the accused on what the Meeting considers appropriate and inappropriate behavior;

  • Expanding, increasing communication to the Meeting about prevention of child abuse;

  • Engaging an attorney;

  • Removing the accused from work with children. 

 

In the event that an incident attracts media attention, the Clerk will be the sole spokesperson, unless he/she is alleged to be involved, in which case the Clerk of Religious Education will be the sole spokesperson. All other members of the Meeting community should refrain from speaking with the media. The spokesperson will seek the advice of legal counsel before responding to media inquiries.  

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Revising This Policy

 

We anticipate that this policy will be applied consistently and uniformly to all. 

 

We also anticipate that the policy may need to change and evolve based upon our experience implementing it and applying the procedures. As need for change or modification is discerned, proposed changes should be brought to the Meeting for Business for consideration. This policy can only be changed through a decision at Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. 

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