Perhaps nowhere else in the community does the phrase "it takes a village" ring as true as it does at church. Oftentimes, churchgoers find themselves volunteering for brand-new positions, which makes education and research extra important.
When it comes to organizing your church's nursery, material objects and supplies are just one part of the picture. The people on your staff are the most important element, but to ensure the safety of the little ones, your checklist must include everything from record-keeping essentials to important safety items.
Gear: The Big Stuff
You've got a space at the church ready to go, but before your nursery can take shape, you'll need these foundational and functional building blocks.
- Storage cabinets
- Check-in desk, office chair and computer
- Landline telephone
- Cribs and crib mattresses
- Bassinets and cradles
- Child-sized tables
- Chairs for children and for waiting parents and volunteers
- Storage bins
- Individual cubbies to store each child's parent-provided supplies
- Diaper-changing station
- A barrier between toddler and infant spaces, if one doesn't exist in the architecture
- Thick, soft rugs or floor mats
- Video security cameras
- A locked maintenance closet or cabinet stocked with disinfectant, non-toxic cleaning supplies, and back-up baby supplies such as diapers, wipes, toiletries and pacifiers
- Hand-washing station/cleaning sink
- Covered trash cans
Gear: The Little Stuff
Once you have the essentials, don't neglect the environment. Cozy, colorful decor not only helps babies and kids feel at home, it helps parents feel more at ease. Of course, you'll have to populate that environment with some essentials.
- Toddler walkers and swings
- Bulletin board
- Walkie-talkies for staff
- Children's literature
- Clean crib sheets, changing table covers and other linens
- Staff name tags
- Lots of paper towels and cleaning rags
- Trash bags and ties for soiled clothes
- Coat and bag hooks
- Antibacterial hand wash
- A backup supply of snacks, water and juice
- Digital thermometer
- Spare sippy cups
And, please, don't forget the toys.
Before opening your nursery's doors, check this list twice to make sure the environment is safe for your youngsters:
- Properly screen all volunteers with a full background check
- Set up a secure check-in system that documents each child, whether digital or physical
- Check all equipment, furniture and toys for recalls, especially donated or secondhand items
- Keep a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher in the space
- Childproof all furniture and large fixtures
- Clear the space of choking hazards
- Conceal and childproof all electrical cords
- Post clear ground rules for policies such as bathroom and diapering rules
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and alarms
- Post clear emergency evacuation routes
- Tie all window-blind cords
- Keep an emergency manual on-hand
- Cover all electrical outlets
Keeping track of kids involves more than just keeping an eye out. Any responsible nursery must maintain records, preferably in both physical and digital formats. In addition to record-keeping software, physical copies of volunteer background checks, medical records and allergy info for children, documents identifying each child's legal guardians are crucial to have in the space at all times.
With a diverse professional background and a decade of experience as a freelance writer, Dan has contributed lifestyle content -- from fashion to travel to fitness and more -- to publishers including Chron, Fortune, Sony, GlobalPost, ModernMom, Moviefone, Salon.com, Techwalla and dozens of others.