Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Help Needed: How do you handle childcare for small groups?

Okay, I've got a question and I'm hoping some of you faithful blog readers can help me out. How do you handle childcare in small groups?

This is something we are in the process of streamlining right now, and it would be helpful to know what other churches do. Northpoint gives reimbursement stipends to parents. When I was at Bethany World Prayer Center, we incorporated children into the group and parents rotated taking care of those too young (babies and toddlers) to participate. At NCC, we currently pay for childcare in the groups.

Here are some questions:

1. How do you do it?
2. Are there any specific requirements (other than the typical legal stuff like background checks) for sitters? i.e., do you require them to be Christians? Members of your church?


At 9:39 AM, Blogger Jessi said...

I'll be anxious to see your responses because we need ideas too!! We currently only have one group with a fairly mixed age group of kids (most of the others the parents get babysitters on their own b/c they just want a night out w/out the kids); one idea I've been toying with is actually having the older kids (sort of 'tween' age - not teens yet, so they still have to be there w/the parents, but not exactly little kids either) do a small group lesson of their own for the younger kids. I know of a group at another church that this worked really well. You'd have to have fairly responsible tweeners that would want to do it, but a lot of kids that age seem to enjoy the opportunity to teach younger kids. You just need to have an adult avaiable to be 'on call' if help is needed - the adults in the group could take turns being that 'point person' for the night.

I dunno...we're looking for ideas ourself, so I'll be interested to keep checking back for responses.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Name: Barry Hughes said...

We have 50 groups.
1. How do you do it?
We let each group decide how they are going to handle childcare. With some guidelines of course.

2. Are there any specific requirements (other than the typical legal stuff like background checks) for sitters? i.e., do you require them to be Christians? Members of your church?

We ask the group members to just use good judgment here. We recommend that girls be babysitters and not boys. That's just rock solid logic from "Reducing The Risk" type seminars, etc...

I have some policy and guidelines in a .pdf that I will try to post on my blog. It covers what to pay, rules for the babysitter, how to find sitters, etc... If this link ever breaks you can also email me at

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Jim Sheldon said...

I lead the small group ministry at Heartland Community Church in Rockford, IL and I'm just working through this myself for our second campus which just launched a few months ago in Madison, WI.

At our main campus our stance on this has evolved over the past 4 years. Initially we didn't have a solution, we were just clear that to be in a group you had to take care of childcare individually, that it was a burden we were not going to put on our hosts. But then we realized how many people we were excluding from our groups as we continued to grow. So we set out with 2 solutions.

The first was from North Point, reimbursing for childcare. The second was we decided to provide a night of the week for groups to meet on campus around tables and existing groups that met on other nights would step up to provide childcare for all three 8 week sessions during the school year. This worked at first but became harder and harder to staff the kids rooms with enough volunteers.

So today we have created a ministry called KidCare that is staffed with both volunteers and paid staff that provide childcare for ministries meeting on campus outside of the normal weekend services. This has been a huge success for us and by centralizing the care it is cheaper than reimbursing for sitters.

As of now we have 22 groups that meet on campus Monday nights to take advantage of this service. There are typically over 100 kids each week that are being cared for while their parents participate in groups. It's worked really well and has made it easier for young families to participate both as group participants and leaders. And by offering it to every ministry that meets on campus we've seen great growth in participation at each ministry level.

Our main campus has about 7,000 people (including kids) attending each weekend. The second campus that we just launched has 300. So I'm working through a solution for the smaller campus and the groups that had been meeting there before as a different church (before we came on board) did childcare in the home, but had many "issues" come up as a result.

We do background checks for all of our KidCare staff and if we promoted groups that met in homes where childcare is provided we would also need to do a background check on the person providing care. By promoting the group we are endorsing the childcare provider. Even though it's indirect we can still be found liable if something happens.

Hope this helps and can't wait to see other's thoughts as well! If anyone has specific questions feel free to email me at

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Todd Gorton said...

Great comments. We let each group decide with emphasis on keeping families together. If your group meets on site at the church, we have a program called Little Steps that is an amazing team of paid/vol staff that lead our children.

Going forward, we have to figure out how to go back to "let the children come to me" type moments where we engage the individual, the couple and the family. Oneness doesn't begin by separating everyone into their own programs. I think we've all seen this tried and fail repeatedly.

Todd Gorton


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