Always Looking for Church Nursery Volunteers?

Having a hard time finding people to serve in the church nursery? Do new volunteers stop serving, shortly after they begin?  There could be a number of reasons for that.

Perhaps your volunteers are serving long periods without a day off. Or they’re expected to watch twice as many children as a person could handle. Or they feel overwhelmed because they’re inexperienced and don’t know what to do.

Having solid procedures for selecting, training, and supervising church nursery volunteers can help you close the revolving door. Not only that, but it can keep the children in your care happier, because they get changed, fed, and comforted on time. They might even learn a Bible lesson.

If you want to improve safety and decrease volunteer turnover, look for ways to improve how you screen, train, and supervise nursery workers.

Write out your policies

Draft a written policy for nursery staff and volunteers.

  • Clearly explain nursery worker roles and responsibilities.
  • Outline your child supervision and staff accountability procedures.
  • State that any person who poses a possible threat to children may not work in your nursery.

Choose Workers Wisely

When nursery volunteers are scarce, you may be tempted to accept all who express interest. Be careful. Doing so opens the door to people who might not be suited for child care. Consider these five steps when screening your nursery staff and volunteers.

  1. Consider only applicants who have attended your church for six months or longer.
  2. Collect written applications and review them carefully.
  3. Check references.
  4. Conduct personal interviews.
  5. Perform criminal background checks.

Create a Safe Haven for Children

Following good supervision procedures can help you establish a trustworthy reputation and reduce the likelihood of abuse. It also makes it easier for your ministry to refute false allegations. Here are some to consider:

  • Require at least two adults to serve in each nursery room, no matter how few children are there.
  • Allow teens to work alongside two or more screened adult volunteers, but don’t place them in charge.
  • Enlist a hall monitor to check staffing compliance and make sure operations run smoothly in each nursery classroom. This person also may monitor hallways and exits, help newcomers find their way around, and help supervise restroom breaks.
  • Maintain consistent child/teacher ratios to ensure that your caregivers aren’t overwhelmed and that each child receives adequate care. Experts recommend the following:
    • Infants (0-6 months): Two babies to one adult
    • Crawlers (6-12 months): Three crawlers to one adult
    • Toddlers (12-18 months): Four toddlers to one adult
    • Walkers (18-36 months): Five or six walkers to one adult
  • Register nursery children by gathering guardian contact and residential information, the child’s allergy information, and so on.
  • Establish a sign-in/sign-out system to ensure that each child leaves your nursery with the correct person.
  • Develop procedures for dealing with sanitation, housekeeping, emergencies, injuries, discipline, and child abuse reporting. Consider keeping your procedures in a binder in your nursery, where workers can reference them easily.
  • Offer introductory training and refresher courses to your nursery staff and volunteers to ensure consistent procedural compliance, as well as emergency preparedness: certification in CPR, first aid, and preparedness to recognize signs of neglect and abuse.

Following these guidelines will set your ministry on a path toward making its nursery safe and enjoyable for all who spend time there – including your volunteers.