JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention (ECAP) has released the latest version of their Child Safety Standards for churches and ministries to use in order to examine whether their organization’s child safety program is satisfactory for child protection.
The Child Safety Standards were drafted by a committee of professionals and experts in the field of risk management and abuse prevention, as well as a number of frontline practitioners who work with and serve children. After several months of Public Review and Comment, these standards have been edited and refined for use in program trials.
After seven months of internal review, editing, and development, ECAP is presenting Beta Version 1.1 of their Child Safety Standards on October 8th, 2021.
These Standards are the basis for an accreditation program that is being beta-tested in a several ministries across the United States. These Standards do not constitute legal or other professional advice and are not a substitute for such advice; rather, they provide information consistent with ECAP’s mission to support Christian ministries in child protection and abuse prevention through awareness, accreditation, and resources.
The Standards cover 5 different categories: Governance, Child Safety Operations, Screening, Training, and Response. If an organization wishes to become accredited by ECAP, they must demonstrate compliance to each Indicator listed under these 5 headings.
Concerning these Standards, Sally Wagenmaker, a member of the legal review team and part of ECAP’s legal counsel, commented, “After months of extensive collective wisdom and experience to identify, develop, and refine ECAP’s accreditation standards, it’s fantastic to now have churches and other ministry organizations participate through this hands-on beta testing phase for abuse prevention. Through its accreditation benchmarks and related support, ECAP is well on the way to help churches, schools, and other ministries to provide optimal child safety and effective risk management.”
Jeremy Herron, director of Providence Kids at Providence Church in Frisco, TX, remarked, “The ECAP Standards are the roadmap we are using to help us create the safest environment for our children’s ministry. They help clear the path so there are no obstacles to our children hearing about the love Jesus has for them through any event we have. The ECAP Standards are an amazing tool that we are now using to re-examine our ministry, to see if our policies and procedures align with these in-depth standards. This resource provides clear areas of focus that are valuable to any ministry looking to protect minors in their care.”
ECAP desires for ministries to consider whether their policies and procedures are sufficient in addressing child safety. “No one can be assured that child safety will happen naturally,” said Briggham Winkler, ECAP’s Communications Coordinator. “Safety will result when an organization is intentional about protecting the helpless and educating their members to recognize and report abusive behavior, making their community inhospitable to predators and abusive practices.”
In addition to the Child Safety Standards, ECAP continues to develop resources for ministries that can help keep kids safe, such as ECAP’s Youth and Children’s Worker Code of Conduct and Worker Screening Questionnaire. More resources and articles can be found on their website.
Executive Director of ECAP, Jeff Dalrymple, said, “These Standards were developed in order for churches and ministries to be prepared to effectively and safely minister to kids in their care. Without a child safety program, ministries may fail in their biblical stewardship to care for their most vulnerable image bearers: children. We believe that implementing these Standards will result in fewer instances of abuse, and thus greater faithfulness in gospel proclamation and witness before a watching world.”