Tips On Using Labels by Jim Kindwall, SafeKids' President
Using A Podium For Sign-In
At our church, we've placed a standard podium next to the door outside of each nursery room. A desk organizer we bought at a local office supply store has been attached to the top of each podium with two-sided tape. The organizer is about 1 1/2 inches deep, about 4 inches by 9 inches in diameter. We place the labels in the tray. We have also affixed a chain pen to the podium just to the right of the tray. We also taped a paper bag hanging off the edge of the podium for parents to dispose of the label backings. On the wall above the podium we hung a cork bulletin board we bought at Wal-Mart. The bulletin board dimentions are approximately 2 foot by 3 foot. the bulletin board was a great place to post volunteers assignments, policies, and basic instructions on how to use the labels. We would also post the type of snacks we would be serving. When we were short on nursery workers, we would tape sign-up sheets to the top of the podium. The hallway that housed our nurseries was also the busiest exit route in our church (bad design!). To reduce congestion, we moved the podiums into a side hallway before the 11:00 service would let out. This made a big difference for our church!
Many churches use different colored labels for each room. If your child is in the "Green Room" they get a green label. A colored sign outside the room helps visiting parents find the room their child was left in. Advantage to using color coded labels is in situations where children from different rooms are combined together for children's worship or story time. The colored labels help separate the children and get them back to their proper rooms when the activity is over. Some churches use one label design for infants, another design for toddlers, and yet another design for elementary grades. Using a different colored label for each department helps keep things organized and avoids the wrong labels being used in the wrong department.
Some churches use set numbers for each age group or room. For example, you could use 000-099 for the infants, 100-199 for the one-year-olds, 200-299 for the two-year-olds and so on. One advantage is that when the Nursery Director sees the number 203 flashed on the digital board in the worship center, she'll know there is a problem in the two-year-old room. Number coding can also help parents find the room their children are being kept in. On a personal note, I chose not to go this route because I couldn't afford the time it would take me to keep this kind of system organized. If you use 200-299 for your two-year-old room, you have to go thru the labels left over after each service to make sure that when you refill the supply you don't put out duplicate numbers. Our nursery staffed 11 rooms and the benefits of a number coding system didn't seem to justify the time expense.
Keep A "Secret Supply"
We suggest that you keep a secret supply of labels in your office that no body else knows about. A two week supply should be enough. That way, if you suddenly find out that you ran out of labels last Sunday, you can be the hero by suddenly finding enough labels to keep you covered until your reorder can be delivered.
Using Display Boards
If you plan to post numbers in your worhip center to summon parents to the nursery when their child is distressed, a digital number board is a great investment. A number of companies offer them and I'm sure they all offer great products. You will have the choice of ordering systems that display 2, 3, or 4 digits. While a 2 digit system might work well for a small church, I would encourage you to chose a 3 or 4 digit system. God is busy in His churches and your numbers will grow! If your church uses a video projector, you may be able to post the numbers on the diplay screen. Most programs used to create the display (such as Powerpoint) make it easy for the tech guys to post a number in the corner of the screen. Which ever system you chose, make sure you take the call numbers off of the screen as soon as the parents arrive at the nurseries. When the numbers stay on your display for too long, parents get nervous and keep rechecking their stubs to make sure they aren't the ones who are being paged. Most number boards have an option that automatically delete numbers after a certain time period if you forget to clear them. I had my number board set to clear the numbers automatically after 9 minutes.
Making The Security System Work
It is always a challenge getting nursery workers to ask parents to present their security stub. Here are some suggestions that will help your workers do a better job. Just before worship is over, the nursery supervisor should poke their head into each nursery room and remind the workers that no one gets their child without a correctly numbered stub. It helps if you require your workers to collect the stub and affix it to a "Check-Out Sheet". Post a sign at the entrance to each nursery room that says "Jesus Loves Your Children And So Do We! Security Stubs Must Be Presented when You Pick-Up Your Child". That way, your workers won't look impolite when they ask their best friends to present their stub. When I was the Director, a parent who didn't have their stub couldn't collect their child until they presented their driver's license proving who they were to myself, a Pastor, Deacon, or Elder. This is all done in love, assuring parents that the safety of their children was extremely important to us. Most parents ended up thanking me for our diligence.
The "Deacon Of The Day"
This suggestion has nothing to do with labels, but it was one of the best ideas I had while serving as Children's Ministry Director and I thought it was worth sharing. Sunday morning is a very busy time for all of us and I found myself a bit stretched for time. Security was a top concern but hard to focus on when you are busy helping visitors check their kids into the nursery and finding last minute fill ins for volunteers that didn't show up. Our church had approximately 30 Deacons and we lauched a system called "Deacon of the Day" to back me up. Each Sunday, in rotation, one Deacon would serve as the "Deacon of the Day". His name would be included in the bulletin and he would wear a special name badge. His job was to patrol the halls of our children's wing keeping an eye on everything and providing back-up when I needed it. He would make sure that male volunteers didn't forget our policies and mistakenly take children into the bathrooms. If their was a problem of some kind, or if parents forgot their security stub, he was there to deal with the issue. He was also the person who would make a list of the volunteers who wanted their free sermon tape and would collect the left over snack supplies. This program was a win-win for everybody! I got the responsible help I needed and the Deacons got a visable opportunity to serve in a way that helped everyone in the church know who they were. What was even better was the fact that the head of our board of Deacons kept the schedule and called to remind the guy that was scheduled that it was his turn to serve!