Our average attendance is around 150 on Sunday mornings. Our children’s ministry is contained in the same building as our main worship services. We use a manual check-in system. What follows are the steps that we are using successfully.
1. Purchase a visual paging system–we purchased a single wireless visual display with three transmitters. A transmitter was placed in each ministry area. The visual display is located in the main worship area and is easily visible. Volunteers were trained in how to use the paging system. Check out www.microframe.com for more information.
2. Identification cards–At first we just gave each family a permanent number. This number is the number that would appear on the visual display should we need to get in touch with a parent. These were made simply and inexpensively on a computer using printable business cards.
3. Develop a check-in system–In the beginning, we were not actually checking in the children each service. Later on we were given a laptop and a software program to use (by permission) that was written by an individual at another church. We purchased a small label printer for the laptop. Sadly, the program just did not function correctly and would not work with the printer. So we had to go back to the drawing board for another idea.
We developed a simple sign-in sheet with columns for the date, ID number, and child’s name. The parents just sign the child’s name on the line next to the first available number. That number along with the child’s name is written on an adhesive nametag. The parent then takes a card with a corresponding number-the same number that will come up on the screen in an emergency. The parents return the card when they come to claim their child.
4. Visitor information–Cards are available for visitors to fill out as part of the check-in process. We made the cards on the computer from cardstock. These are family registration cards listing all children, as well as allergies, medical conditions, birthdays, etc. After these are completed, then the parents go on to complete the check-in process described above. The visitors are then escorted to the appropriate ministry areas.
5. Check-in station–Be sure that the station is centrally located and easy to find. Greeters should know where the station is located and be able to direct visitors to it’s location (even better to escort visitors to the station). Our is just a window-like opening that we left when our church was remodeled. The station is stocked with the sign-in clipboard, name tags, pens and markers, ID cards and visitor info cards.
6. Parent and volunteer training–We held a meeting to inform parents on how to use the check-in system. Then we met with volunteers to train them in the check-in system and also reviewed them on the use of the pager transmitter.
7. Policies and procedures–Develop a set of policies and procedures for volunteers and parents regarding check-in. For example, we do not allow a child to be picked up by anyone other than a parent or a responsible sibling over the age of 16. (We have a few children who come with their older siblings in their parent’s absence.)
This system has worked great for us from the start. It is user-friendly and easy to explain to visitors. Just be sure to keep the check-in station well stocked with supplies. Contact me if you would like more information, I would be glad to help.