Church nurseries may only care for children for a brief amount of time, but it's still important that they provide the best care possible. It's hard to enjoy a church service if you are worried about your child's care, and a safe nursery reflects positively on the church. Use a checklist to make sure your church nursery is functioning at the highest standard possible.
Safety is of the utmost importance when running a church nursery. Not only will your church members expect it, but first-time visitors to the church will be much more inclined to feel comfortable leaving their children with you if they can see that the nursery is a safe, clean place. In fact, the nursery is often the first impression new visitors receive of a church. A safe nursery should be stocked with at least one first aid kit. The room should be baby-proofed, including cabinet locks, outlet covers and cords secured well out of reach. The room should contain a smoke and carbon dioxide detector, as well as a fire extinguisher. Finally, a procedure should be in place that protects the children by matching a child with a parent. Some churches place a temporary bracelet on the child and give the parent a matching bracelet. Others assign each baby a number, and the parent has to know the number in order to pick up the child.
All of the furniture in the room should be up-to-date and safe. Well-meaning church members often donate old toys and cribs to church nurseries, but these can sometimes be so old as to be dangerous. In some instances, the furniture might even have been recalled. Make sure all cribs, playpens, changing tables and swings are in good working order and not recalled. Toys should be age-appropriate, with no loose parts that could present a choking hazard. Old churches may have rooms painted with lead paint. If this is a possibility in your church, the nursery room should be tested for lead paint and re-painted if necessary. Finally, the carpets and floors should be smooth and safe for the children to crawl around on.
Church nurseries should have sinks so that the caregivers can wash hands as often as possible. If there is no sink available, hand sanitizing lotions should be used. Toys should be sanitized with a solution of bleach and water once a week, and washed with a non-toxic detergent at the end of each Sunday, or whenever the nursery is used. The entire room should be cleaned after each use, with careful attention paid to the changing table and areas where children eat. Lock up cleaning supplies far out of reach of the children. Finally, take home and wash linens (such as crib sheets) once a week.
Post a list of approved nursery workers and their phone numbers in the church nursery, along with the rotation schedule. Keep a copy of each volunteer's background check in the room. The children of the church members should also have records kept in the room for easy access. The records should include vaccinations and other medical information, especially allergies, including food allergies. In addition, the records should contain information on who is legally allowed to pick up the children. Finally, children who attend regularly should have a place to put their things, including pacifiers, diapers and medications. Label these with the child's name and instructions for use.