A check-in system provides enhanced security and is vital to child safety, yet the benefits and success truly come from a combination of the check-in system itself and how well the staff in the organization uses it.

Regardless of whether you are using an electronic solution, or other method, certain tracking and safety measures are still a necessity.  You must have accurate records of children checking in and out, know who is picking up the children in your care, be aware of any allergy or medical concerns and have a process to verify people are who they say they are.

1) Because Real Threats Exist

What are some of the real threats?  Every year between 1.3 and 1.8 million children are reported missing in the United States alone, and the FBI records an average of 2,100 new missing children cases per day[1].  Most abductions are carried out by people who know the family and children – babysitters, boyfriends/ex-boyfriends (teen’s or, parent’s), classmates, and neighbors[2].  While the murder of abducted children is rare, research shows, the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child.  Per a 2006 study, 76.2% of abducted children who were killed were so within three hours of abduction[3].

parent photo kidcheck website (1)Those are some alarming facts.  Making it even more complex are today’s dynamic and blended family situations.  An estimated one-third of children will live in a stepparent home before the age of 18 and 50% will have a stepparent at some point in their lifetime[4]. An estimated 200,000 kids are abducted by a family member, and 58,000 by nonfamily members; the primary motive being sexual exploitation of some type[5].

These statistics underscore the importance of well understood and documented child safety processes and procedures.

2) Because the Solution is Only as Good as the People Using It

Keep in mind, no check-in system will keep the kids in your care safe without the proper implementation, staff training, and design around the systems you use.  You must know and have vetted your volunteers, parents, employees; understand who the authorized and unauthorized guardians are; and know where and with whom the kids are at all times.  The system and procedures you implement must be ones your personnel and volunteers can quickly understand, consistently use, and easily follow.

3) Because Accurate Guardian and Child Information is Important

Having up-to-date and proper information on all aspects associated with the children in your care is key to improving security.  One unique feature of KidCheck is parent maintained accounts.  Parents can easily provide the necessary family information, as well as keep it up-to-date, without you needing to do the input or maintenance work.

They provide all pertinent contact information for themselves and the children (including photos), specifically list authorized and unauthorized guardians, and note any medical or allergy alerts. Additionally, documents such as restraining orders, court orders or medical information associated with a child can be kept and tracked right in that KidCheck account for easy access.

All this information is made available to an organization as soon as the child checks into that facility.  Administrators for the organization then have access to all the information.  That information and the check-in system itself, in  conjunction with using the proper check-in and check-out procedures, increase child safety.

4) Because Perception is Reality

In addition to tangible improvements in child security, the perception of child safety you provide for your visitors, parents and staff is extremely important. Parents and visitors are leaving what is most precious to them in your care and expect a safe and loving environment. They won’t feel comfortable attending and entrusting their children to your staff if they don’t feel it’s safe.  Additionally, no employee or volunteer wants to be put in a position where the organization, or they themselves, may possibly be held liable for a child leaving with the wrong person. Not to mention the huge financial and legal liability if a child is harmed or abducted while in your care.

A check-in system helps instill confidence, implements a culture and environment of safety, and makes a loud and clear statement that your facility is safe, secure and takes the security of children very seriously.

5) Because Emergencies Can and Will Happen

At a touch of a button, electronic check-in systems also provide the ability to know which children are in your facility and exactly where those kids are.  In case of an emergency, you need to know where each and every child is, and ideally their parent’s location as well. That knowledge allows you to more quickly and effectively enact emergency plans and contingencies.

Whether for an emergency situation, or for more basic updates, parent communication is simple as well.   The text messaging feature within KidCheck allows you to quickly, and privately, notify a parent if their child needs something or an emergency arises.  Alternately it can also provide peace-of-mind that all is well, allowing them to relax and enjoy their time. Imagine the anxiety for a parent leaving their child in your care when the child is crying and very upset about the transition. Now imagine the relief and ability to refocus when they receive a text from you assuring them their child is now giggling happily or sleeping peacefully.  Guardians can also receive a text message to let them know each time their child is checked-in or out.

6) Because Check-In System + You = Winning Combination

Implementing a secure children’s check-in solution is an important step to improve security; however it is truly the people behind the system that determine the ultimate security and success of that system. It’s folks like you – the children’s pastors, volunteers, childcare professionals, nursery workers, etc – who are truly the gate keepers for the safety of the children while they are in your care. Utilizing key tools, such as an electronic check-in solution, coupled with the proper execution, training and expectation for your staff is a winning combination.  At KidCheck we are honored to be part of that process, those policies and the resulting benefits for all involved.


 

Alex Smith is CEO of KidCheck, providers of secure children’s check-in solutions for churches and child care professionals. He is a data security and child safety expert, church safety team leader, former police officer, and consultant to the Air Force and FBI on data security and cyber terrorism. 

  1. How Can I Help Parents Worried About a Child Being Abducted?  Mary E. Muscari. Aug 12, 2003 www.medscape.com/viewarticle/459277
  2. How Can I Help Parents Worried About a Child Being Abducted?  Mary E. Muscari. Aug 12, 2003 www.medscape.com/viewarticle/459277
  3. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. http://www.ncmec.org/KeyFacts  Brown K., Keppel R., McKenna R., Skeen M., Weis J. Case Management for Missing Children Homicides: Report II, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and U.S. Department of Justice, 2006
  4. Marriage, Family and Stepfamily Statistics. Compiled by Ron L. Deal, M. MFT, updated Feb 2011.  http://smartstepfamilies.com/view/statistics
  5. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. http://www.ncmec.org/KeyFacts