For Immediate Release, Dec. 15, 2022
Contact Briggham Winkler, [email protected]
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention (ECAP) is announcing that it will launch its Child Safety Accreditation Program for Christian ministries that serve children on January 9th, 2023.
ECAP was created in 2019 to provide heightened awareness, accreditation, and additional resources in order to help Christian organizations that serve kids protect the vulnerable in ministry.
Accreditation is an independent process of compliance verification which determines if an organization meets defined safety standards. ECAP awards accreditation to ministries that demonstrate compliance with Child Safety Standards through a process of audit and review. The Accreditation Program assists ministry leaders by validating compliance with Standards that describe the elements of a Child Protection Program (CPP) that should be in place to prevent abuse. The accreditation process builds layers of protection, resulting in peace of mind for leaders, parents, and other ministry stakeholders.
Following the model of ministries such as the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), ECAP hopes to normalize child protection in ministry, raising the standard for Christian organizations and their responsibility to care for kids.
“ECAP exists to bring the best from the world of safety and risk management to ministry leaders in a way that respects organizational autonomy and motivates leaders to take on Christ’s call to care for the vulnerable and the least of these: children,” said Briggham Winkler, ECAP’s General Editor. “It’s our hope that ECAP membership will be a witness to the world, demonstrating God’s love for children and declaring, ‘This organization cares for the physical and spiritual well-being of children.’”
In 2022, ECAP began the Charter Phase of its Accreditation Program, further assisting many organizations who are now in various stages of the accreditation process. ECAP has refined its process to include six basic steps: Application, Self-Study, Remote Assessment, Validation Visit, Decision and Annual Renewal.
Along with the Program’s launch, ECAP will release version 1.3 of its Child Safety Standards with a few clarifying updates, although the substance of the Standards has remained the same. ECAP’s Child Safety Standards are divided into five categories: Governance, Child Safety Operations, Screening, Training, and Response.
According to Kevin White, chief operating officer of Awana, the launch of ECAP’s Accreditation Program reflects how “effective child discipleship begins with safe environments. We’re excited to see ECAP’s Accreditation Program launching, which will help leaders and provide parents with assurance that the ministry they trust with their kids’ well-being prioritizes child safety.”
The purpose of the Accreditation Program is to encourage both accountability and sustainability in child protection for ministries that serve kids. According to Jennifer Greenberg, abuse survivor and author of Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse, “What ECAP offers ministries is credibility. As a mother and child abuse survivor, knowing that a church has been accredited by an objective third party gives me peace of mind. I know they’re not just running background checks and they’re not just checking off boxes to appease their insurance provider. They’re taking real and proactive steps to maintain safety standards that honor God.”
Afshin Ziafat serves as lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas–ECAP’s first fully accredited charter member. Pastor Ziafat has observed, “Pastors are to shepherd the flock God has given them by feeding and caring for them as well as protecting them, especially the most vulnerable. I am so thankful for the services of ECAP in helping us create a safe environment for our people, especially our children and youth, to hear the saving news of the Gospel. With the help of ECAP Child Safety Standards, our protection is greater than it has ever been. Our volunteers can focus on the task at hand while being empowered to recognize and respond to signs of abuse if they arise. Another added benefit of having gone through the accreditation process is that our children’s ministry, youth ministry and community groups ministry are more aligned and aware of our policies, their responsibilities, and how to handle situations than before the accreditation process. The ECAP accreditation process will guide these ministries for years to come.”
Alongside the Accreditation Program, ECAP is launching an Affiliate Member Program, which allows for like-minded ministries and other nonprofit organizations to join them in creating safe ministry environments.
In order to help ministries develop ECAP-compliant Child Protection Programs, ECAP also hopes to begin a grant program, specifically for organizations that desire to provide for Child Safety, but lack the resources for development and implementation. You can help support this grant here.
To learn more about ECAP’s accreditation process or submit an application, you can go to ECAP’s Accreditation Page, or read an interview with Jeremy Herron, the director of Providence Kids at Providence Church. More resources and articles on Child Safety and Abuse Prevention can be found at https://ecap.net.