Churches are often the home of nurseries as well as a gathering spot for the congregation on Sundays. Church members use the facilities as a place to leave children during work hours or during services where they can trust the staff and feel there will be a proper spiritual side to the experience the children have there. But a church nursery must adhere to the same standards as any other nursery school or daycare center to ensure a safe environment for the children in their care.
Trip Slip and Fall Hazards
As toddlers and other small children move about during the day, they are likely to stumble and fall on occasion. But keeping the nursery environment free of trip, slip and fall hazards will minimize the risk of injuries. Those working in the nursery should keep a lookout for any clutter in walkways, spills on floors and strewn toys to help prevent tripping. All stairways of other areas with a drop off should have a safety gate to prevent children from falling over an edge or down stairs. Remove any objects in the room that might encourage small children to climb. It is also a good idea to get down on hands and knees regularly and inspect the entire nursery from a child's point of view. There you will be able to spot obvious dangers that might not be as apparent to a standing adult.
Fire Extinguishers/Escape Plan
A nursery needs to develop and post a fire evacuation plan that is known by all workers. Well-lit exit signs should appear over at least two emergency exits, and these exits should not be locked with a padlock or deadbolt at any time. Emergency lighting is also necessary for fire safety. The nursery should have a sprinkler system, and this may be required in some states. The nursery should also have fire extinguishers within 75 feet of the nursery entrance and they should be properly inspected and charged each year.
No less than two nursery attendants should be on duty at all times when children are present. Typical rules require one attendant for every four children, although some states may vary in this requirement based on the ages of the children. Generally there must be at least one adult, aged 18 or older, working in the nursery. Workers should be thoroughly screened for qualifications, including checking on references.
Check with your local government to determine licensing requirements for your church nursery. Churches are not always exempt from childcare facility licensing. The license requirements vary from state to state and may be set by the state department of health, child protection services or another government agency. You should not attempt to open your church nursery until the licensing requirements have been met.
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