If your church isn’t yet using church software to check in children at church, it’s a wonderful option to put in place to ensure the safety of children—both to protect them and to protect your church. Nearly all of the church management software systems offer check in, and there are many options to consider. As you move through the process of deciding on a system, you’ll want to consider the speed of check in, self-check in vs. volunteer manned check in. Cost is also a factor.

Below are six of the most common children’s check-in security options to quickly secure children at your church:

1) Biometric (Fingerprint or Finger Vein) Scan – The fingerprint scan is a great way to quickly identify the family when they first arrive to check-in their children. Many of the churches that use our software have chosen the fingerprint scan because they don’t want the parents to have to remember one more thing when getting ready for church. As one of our Roll Call users said, “I’ve got four kids hanging on my leg, two diaper bags, I can’t find my keys… but I’ve got my finger handy.”

The fingerprint scan is approximately 95% accurate. Some fingers it just won’t read properly, so that is a consideration. The finger vein scanners are more accurate, but much pricier. We’ve also had some churches tell us that their congregation was very uncomfortable with the idea of scanning fingerprints.

2) Key Tag Scan – Creating a custom key tag for your church members is great way to check students in. The bar code on the back of the tag will need to be assigned to the family. Then when you scan that bar code it will immediately identify the family that there to check in. We’ve found this is the fastest and most accurate method for checking in. Typically mom or dad will have their keys handy when they arrive so it’s quite fast.

3) Bar Code Badge – Another option available from By the Book is the bar code badge. These badges are credit card size tags that can be printed directly from the software. They include the family picture as well as the bar code. The card is scanned and the family is immediately identified for check in. The card can also be used to release the child on check out, since there is a family picture.

The down side of this badge is that families can forget them at home or will have to dig through a wallet or purse to find them. This can slow your lines down.

4) Touchscreen – Using a touchscreen monitor to allow for self check-in works quite well. Most folks are used to using touch screens from ATM’s to checking in at the airport, so your congregants should be able to easily check themselves in using this method.

5) Search by Name or Phone Number – The least expensive method for checking in children is to search for the family based on the last name or on the last four digits of the phone number. This method is not as quick as a bar code scan or fingerprint scan because there is one additional step: You’ll do the search and then pick the family that is present, whereas the scan immediately identifies the family.

6) iPad or Smartphone – By the Book will be releasing its Mobile Check-in app in July. This would allow your church to have volunteers with iPad’s or Smartphones in different locations throughout your church doing the check in. Then the name tags and parent tags can be printed in a central location. This works really well for bus ministries. The bus driver can have an iPad with 3G, check the kids in when they hop on the bus, then the name tags are ready for them when they arrive at church.

These are six of the most common ways to check in children at church – we hope that one of the methods works for your church to ensure the safety and security of your visitors.

[Editor’s Note: By The Book is one of ChurchTechToday’s valued sponsors. Elexio, Church Community Builder, and Icon Systems are also sponsors and offer check-in through their church management software systems as well. We encourage churches to review multiple church software options to select the best solution for their church.]

Kim Conley is part owner and operator of By the Book (http://www.bythebook.com), a company dedicated to helping the church through the use of technology.