We've worked with organizations during their initial set up of Checkpoint, and we've gathered feedback from organizations that have used Checkpoint for several years. Through these experiences, we've compiled a series of suggestions to help make your implementation of Checkpoint a success.
For any project that is as all-encompassing as a check-in system, planning is important. In addition to the information and suggestions provided throughout this guide, keep the following in mind as you develop your plan:
- Review insurance and legal requirements that could affect your implementation.
- Ask for input. Get suggestions from staff members and from lay leaders in the children's ministry area.
- Survey your existing facilities and determine if you need to make any renovations.
- Consider hiring a consultant from the ACS Implementation team. Consults will visit your congregation and assist in the development and implementation of your Checkpoint plan.
As you develop your plan, make sure it fits your budget and you can implement it in the required time frame.
The key to implementing a successful security process is training of your ministry leaders, teachers, coordinators, and volunteers. A coordinated and comprehensive effort is essential to the protection of your children. As you implement the system, ministry leaders must ensure that:
- Greeters and host team members are well-trained on the overall workings of the children's ministry, including the registration and check-in equipment, classroom locations, centralized visitor location, volunteer and staff names, and the emergency policy for your organization.
- Ministry leaders are trained in how to use software tools to identify, qualify, and screen volunteers to match the right people with the right positions.
- Teachers and classroom volunteers understand drop-off and pick-up procedures, the use of security badges, and emergency procedures.
- Hall monitors, ushers, and parking lot attendants know what their specific roles are in case of an emergency.
- Volunteers understand and follow the security protocols you've established. Remember that security requires more effort and planning beyond what any technology can supply.
Once your children's and youth ministry security process is in place, don't be afraid to let your congregation and your visitors know about it. Publish information on the process and insert it into the weekly newsletter or bulletin. Post the information on your Web site. Announce it from the pulpit and encourage your small group leaders to pass along the information to their small groups. Continue to remind the congregation that the safety of your children is at stake and worth any perceived inconveniences.
Conducting Test Runs
Before you get ready for the first Sunday in action, conduct several test runs of the new system and procedures. Invite parents to come in during other times of the week to try out the system.
It's always best to discover any problems in the process before the crowd arrives on Sunday morning. For example, you might discover that some children have never been entered into your People database or that they were not entered in the correct family. You might also discover duplicate records. Preferably, you should correct any such errors in ACS People before proceeding with Checkpoint setup.
After your test runs, meet with your leaders and volunteers to get their feedback and suggestions for resolving any issues. It's a good idea to meet with this same group after the first or second live runs. Your goal is to get everyone comfortable before the system is launched in full.
Implementing in Stages
Another way to minimize problems and overcome objections is to implement Checkpoint in stages.
In phase 1, you can implement the check-in system for your infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. It's a good idea to start with this age group because they are the most vulnerable, so their parents are the most understanding of and receptive to the need for a check-in system. Indeed, you probably already know that these families can be the most adamant about having a comprehensive and secure check-in system.
Once you've implemented a check-in system for the youngest children in phase 1, you can implement the system for the grade school kids in phase 2 and the youth in phase 3.
Planning for Future Growth
Security is an ongoing process. Once the check-in system is in place, you must maintain it. This includes budgeting for labels (often overlooked), planning for printer and other hardware replacement, and budgeting for new check-in stations as your congregation grows.
In addition to budgeting for tangible items, you should also plan for changes to your people and processes as your congregation grows. This includes training new volunteers, evaluating and revising the systems and processes you have in place, and monitoring your staff members, leaders, and volunteers to make sure the policies and procedures are being followed.