All parents want to be certain that their children will be safe when they drop them off at children’s church on Sunday morning. That’s why The McKnight Group pays special attention to security in children areas when we create a new church design or plan the remodel of an existing structure. Here are some considerations and designs we use to ensure children’s safety.
The Check-in Desk
Naturally, one of the most important features of a secure children’s area is a check-in desk. Parents want to see the faces of the people they are trusting with their children, and the staff or volunteers who are caring for those children want a clear method in place to track the children. With a check-in desk incorporated into your church design, there is one central place where children are dropped off and picked up.
A computer system can be used for check-in that commonly prints a pair of stickers, with one put on the child and the other given to the parent. Parents can walk children to the classroom, or a barrier can be put in place which only allows the children to go past the check-in desk and into the children’s wing and classrooms.
When possible we recommend designing children’s areas with classrooms surrounding a “pod” which contains the check-in desk and a lot of room in front of it for parents and kids, with diaper bags in tow, to come up to the desk. Behind the desk are the doors to the classrooms—usually 4 to 6 per pod. They are easily visible from the check-in desk, so parents can watch their children walk into the right classroom.
Of course, parents also want to be able to see what’s going on inside the classrooms. We allow this in our church design in a couple of ways. First, we can install one-way glass windows so that parents can see into the classroom without their presence being disruptive to a child’s concentration on children’s church or other activities. Second, in buildings which include a sprinkler system, building code allows us to use Dutch doors, which are the doors that are cut in half across the middle, allowing people to look in and even speak with those inside, while still keeping the bottom door closed to prevent young children from getting out.
No Reason to Leave
When we draw up children’s areas in each church design, we make sure to include restrooms, changing areas, storage closets and even indoor play areas so that there’s no reason children need to leave the secure area until their parents return to claim them after the service. The one issue that sometimes arises, however, is that building codes are less concerned about children’s security and more concerned about having plenty of egress options in case of fire. When we draw up a church design, we can incorporate doors with exit devices, commonly referred to as ‘crash’ or ‘panic’ bars that will allow children out in case of emergency, but which can otherwise remain closed.
As you can see, we pay a lot of attention to many important details when we draft a church design. There’s a lot to the perfect building layout that you might not think about until you begin a church construction or renovation project. This is why we share our free i3 webinars each year—to help you learn more about what you need to know to create a church design that will meet your specific needs. So sign up for our next webinar today, and contact us directly with your specific questions.