Any tips on running a church nursery?

Liz - posted on 01/23/2013 ( 14 moms have responded )

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Hi I am looking for suggestions on how to more smoothly operate our church's nursery. I have been "in charge" of it for about 4.5 years, and am just trying to find ways to run it more effectively and efficiently. How does your church nursery operate? What sort of guidelines do they have for the workers? Babies? Parents? Visitors? Also, what sort of accommodations does your church have for breastfeeding mothers? Any tips or advice or suggestions (or questions if I've been unclear!) are welcome! Thanks!

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Brandy - posted on 02/04/2013

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Our church is only 2 years old but our main focus is bringing in new people to hear the message. My family goes to Itown Church and I'm sure the head of our kids area will give you any info you need because another thing we do is help people plant churches. I for one love our churches policies and procedures.
1. You have to go through the 4 membership classes and take a personality profile to make sure that is your calling.
2. You have to have a background check and sign the honar contract.
Then you can volunteer.
These are the procedures for droping children off.
1. Someone checks your child in. You get 2 name tags for each child that has a number on it specific to your child. The number changes each week. You get a small sticker that has each child's name and number. Any medical info (allergies, asmah and such) are noticed on the child's tag. A red dot goes on the tag for food allergies.
2. If you don't have a parent a tag you don't go back. We have a uniformed police officer that checks tags.
3. Absolutely no adult is allowed in the classrooms excep the workers. If your child is still having problems adjusting after 5 min then the child's number will be put up on the screen to let the parent know they are needed.
4. Each child is changed and the worker says a little blessing over them. A sticker goes on the back by the name tag that says "changed with love" and another sticker with a bible verse goes there also.

We do have a nursing mothers room that has a live tv feed of the service and if your child is having a problem in the class the mom can hang out in there with the child and still enjoy the service. There is also a changing table in there.
Our classes are set up for newborn to crawler or 1 year, 1-2 yr olds, 3 year olds, 4-5 year olds, and 6-12 year olds. Once you hit Jr high your in the service with your parents. We have 2nd Wednesday youth rally and small groups that meat for Jr and Sr high also through out the month.
After service if a non parent would like to tour the facility then I'm sure the pastor can accommodate it that.
The guide lines for each class is laminated and posted in the corresponding rooms. Like I said our church would love to give you more info on it because our main reason for being here is bringing the lost in and making them as comfortable as possible so they and there kids will want to come back. Please feel free to look up my church on line and contact them about any questions, again it's called itown church.

Susan - posted on 02/03/2013

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Our church has two nursery supervisors who are paid a very small amount. Then they ask the parents to be their helpers on a rotating basis. Because people loves babies, they often have volunteers that aren't parents of the children there, just other church members that want to help out and spend time with young children. There is always one supervisor and one helper for the early service and a supervisor and two helpers for the later service based on numbers of children that typically attend. The church has a policy (for their insurance) that they must have two adults present at all times regardless of the number of children in case something happens there is a witness (one child still requires two adults). This is true for Sunday school classes too. Parents sign in their child and take a pager. If there are a lot of children or new children, they will put name tags on the child, the supervisors know the regulars. The nursery room has a main room with toys that is half carpet and half hardwood with a table for a snack (animal crackers or cheerios). There is an adjoining room (no shoes allowed) that has cribs, soft carpet, baby toys, and a changing table for babies. I would imagine this room could be used for breastfeeding, but I've never seen anyone do that. They tend to keep all the children in the main room unless it's really busy and/or the older children are too rowdy for the babies. The nursery is for children up through age 3. Children age 4 through second grade go to the service with their parents for 15-30 minutes at which time they have a children's chat on the steps with a rotating church member, then they go down to children's church which is not Sunday school, but a time to watch Veggie Tales, color, Bible bingo, Bible puzzle, etc. It's not meant to necessarily be a teaching time, but they hope to have some religion mixed in the play time. This also has two parents on a rotating basis. Children older than second grade just stay with their parents in the service. Our Sunday school is between the two services.

Jean - posted on 02/04/2013

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Our church's procedure and safety guides (background checks, 2 adult rule, etc.) are similar to yours. However, we do allow nursing mothers in the nursery,and new parents, provided that they are not alone with the kids, which they never are because our approved volunteers are in there. The assumption is the volunteers provide the safe environment needed for our kiddos and everyone is understanding of new parents and nursing moms.

Anne - posted on 01/31/2013

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Our church doors except for the front door are locked as well. Because the doors lock from the inside if an emergency happened where exiting quickly was important we can still get out..

Carla - posted on 01/29/2013

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For such infrequent times, like new parents who are insecure about having their child handed over to a stranger, there could always be exceptions to the rule. But a time limit, like 2 times, then let the child go in by himself, should be in order.

Because of the times, I understand visitors not wanting to just leave their child and go. The handbook Anne mentioned is good, and should be given to all visitors, giving FULL details of how the nursery is monitored. We also had side doors locked during service, so after service started you could only get in through the front door, and we had ushers who stood by the front door to give assistance to those coming in. If they were new, one of the ushers took the family to the nursery/appropriate class and introduced the parents to the workers, handed off the children, then escorted back to the sanctuary. If the parent is rational, they will understand the precautions, and appreciate them. I had 4 grandchildren in those classes, and I SURE wanted them to be protected!

I hope things work smoothly for you, Liz, God bless

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Terri - posted on 07/13/2014

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I have a question...do you allow or not allow your volunteers to turn the lights off in the nursery when rocking a baby to sleep ? I have recently been told from a visitor's perspective that it doesn't look good and parents were uncomfortable with it. I don't want to give any place to accusations against my team.

Brandy - posted on 02/04/2013

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As for a nursing mothers area, you'd be amazed at what you can do with PVC and black fabric. Our church was mobile for the first 2 years and and that's what we did. We just recently had a facility given to us. We also used that to separate a large room to make it 2 or more rooms.

Liz - posted on 01/29/2013

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I like that idea of a handbook! I think I will bring that up with my pastor next time we meet. Thanks!

Anne - posted on 01/28/2013

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Our church has a Parent Handbook that explains a lot of what you just posted. This has helped with the wanting to come in the Nursery. I know it has been revised as of late and I do not work in the nursery so I have not seen the new guidelines.

Liz - posted on 01/28/2013

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Thanks for your responses!

The biggest "problem" we've had in our nursery as of late is that visitors want to come in with their children. The Christian Law Association has advised us against this. Now, I completely understand those parents, and if my baby and I were visiting a church for the first time, I can't imagine I would like very much handing them off to a couple of strangers. I also can't really imagine what I might do or say if I was told that I was not allowed in the nursery with my child.
Now, on the other hand, every person that works in our nursery has had a background check and is a member in good standing at our church. So from that point of view, you can see why it would potentially be a problem to let just any visitor come in. We don't know anything about them, and we therefore need to protect the other children in our care.
My other dilemma, then, is what about visiting nursing mothers? Our church doesn't have the space for a private area for nursing mothers, and there really isn't even that much demand for one. Currently, our nursing mothers just come into the nursery to feed their babies. But, what with the whole "visitors not allowed" guideline...well, you can see my problem :) I guess if anyone has any tips or ideas on how I could broach this subject with my pastor (who, as a man, has never had to deal with the discomfort of having to nurse a baby on the bathroom floor) I would appreciate them.
That is really my only "problem", but I could use any ideas at all. How does a typical service go in the nursery from drop off to pick up? I suppose I am just looking for others' routines/guidelines/ways of going about things, and then I will pick out and try what might work for us. For example, at our church from drop off to pick up, it might go something like this:
1. Parent hands baby and diaper bag over the half door.
2. Worker hands parent a pager and labels diaper bag with corresponding name tag.
3. Worker writes on white board any instructions for baby's care during the service.
4. Worker then takes baby into the nursery and plays with/rocks/feeds/changes baby, and/or allows baby to play by himself.
5. Each baby's diaper gets changed during the service.
6. Parent returns pager and receives baby and diaper bag in exchange at the end of service.
7. After all babies have been picked up, workers turn off the pagers, empty the trash, clean any toys that have been mouthed with disinfecting wipes, change sheets in the cribs (if they've been used) and vacuum the floor.

Sorry for the long post :)

Anne - posted on 01/27/2013

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I realize That This Is A Hard Web Site To Think That ANY CHURCH SHOULD/WOULD NEED!!! BUT THIS IS 2013. So I am giving you the link to our Church Headquarters web site to get some ideas on how you can keep your children safe!!!

Now our Church is Nazarene but there are good ideas and practices on this site for any church!.

The most important thing is safety and consistency. I hope this helps you. I will be Praying for and with you as your decide what ideas if any your want to use as a model.

http://www.nazarenesafe.org/

Anne - posted on 01/25/2013

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Hi Liz, could you be more specific about any issues you are having or what isn't running smoothly?

Our church is fairly small and we could have between 1 - 9 children in the nursery. The nursery is for children from infants up to age 4 or 5. We also have Sunday School during the services for older children (5+). We don't really have any guidelines for the workers - most of them have been volunteering for several years and are parents in our church. We sometimes have trouble finding volunteers. We have been down to only 3 or 4 people on our nursery volunteer list at times. We only have one volunteer in the nursery usually. If there are a lot of children, there will be 2 volunteers. I have not encountered any issues with visitors, parents, or breastfeeding.

Carla - posted on 01/24/2013

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Now I am going back YEARS here, Liz, but our church nursery was set up for mothers and BABIES, period. There were a couple rocking chairs, a speaker, so the mothers could hear the sermon, but could adjust the volume, and a changing table with one-way glass, so you could see out, but not in. You had to knock before entering (quietly), older children were not allowed, so breastfeeding mothers were shielded. I cannot get into the new way of breastfeeding anywhere, even in the church congregation. We are to be modest, and I don't think uncovering yourself in public is proper. Just my opinion.

We had 'Junior Church' in the basement so the older children could sing, act out Bible stories, etc. But once my kids were 8 or so, they sat in service. I know I'm a dinosaur, but children were taught to be quiet and respect the sanctuary. We could bring crayons and coloring books, but nothing that would distract from them hearing. And, I am amazed at what they absorbed, even when coloring.

I hope this helped, and if not, pray for this old dinosaur ;)

God bless, hon

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