Whenever a church invites the public on its property, a legal duty arises to protect all visitors from unreasonable harm. Vacation Bible School (VBS) can be an exciting time with many new faces, but this is also a time when a church needs to take extra care to ensure its creates a safe environment. Here are 5 issues that could result in legal liability at VBS if a church is not careful:
- ID System. One of the worst things that could happen is for a child to leave with someone who is not authorized to care for that child. This could be anyone from a stranger to a parent who does not have custody rights. From the start of VBS, a child’s guardians should identify all persons who are authorized to pick up or make decisions for their child.
- Leaders. A church is responsible for the volunteers it places over children. Whenever possible, an adult leader should never be left alone with children. All workers should be screened ahead of time and subject to background checks.
- Emergency Protocol. Your church should have a plan in place to handle any emergency that could arise. Whenever possible there should be a person available who is first-aid trained. Make sure you know the numbers for poison control and other emergency services.
- Food. Discretion should be used in providing food to children. It is recommended that parents be asked to identify any food allergies their child may have. Some foods, such as peanuts, are best to avoid all together.
- Facility. All areas of the church should be inspected to remove any safety concerns. Are sharp objects and cleaning supplies put away? Are rooms locked where children should not be allowed? Is the outside play area free of hidden dangers such as yellow jackets or ant hills?
At Dozier Miller Law Group, attorney Adam Hocutt works with churches and other organizations to advise them on legal issues and defend any claims or lawsuits that arise. We are proud to be one of the few law firms in North Carolina to have a dedicated Church Law practice committed to assisting churches and other non-profits with legal matters.