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Child Abuse Prevention: ECAP Accreditation Now Available

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Alert for ministries with programs involving children: The Evangelical Counsel for Abuse Prevention is now accepting applicant ministries for accreditation membership. Such membership is available to churches, schools, daycares, camps, and other ministries that fit within ECAP’s application prerequisites. Other organizations that provide programs involving children can benefit significantly as well. In a nutshell, ECAP’s accreditation process and other child protection resources provide key benchmarks for child safety and related best practices.

What is accreditation?

As set forth in ECAP’s website, accreditation is an independent process of compliance verification which determines if an organization meets defined standards. ECAP awards accreditation to ministries that demonstrate compliance with child safety standards through an assessment and audit process.

How can accreditation benefit qualifying organizations?

ECAP accreditation provides significant opportunities to safeguard children and to meet related organizational risk management goals, through checklists to assess screening, operations, training, governance, and safety policies. ECAP’s checklists correlate with ECAP’s authoritative safety standards, which were developed through a multi-year rigorous process involving numerous experts with extensive knowledge and experience in direct ministry, safety, legal, and other relevant areas. ECAP’s standards consist of detailed “indicators” in governance, child safety operations, screening, training, and responses, along with corresponding commentary and related materials appropriate to satisfy each indicator. Taken together, these standards provide a critical measuring tool for any ministry seeking to optimally protect children.

What does the accreditation process involve?

First, a ministry needs to become a “candidate member.” This step involves an application process, initial assessment, and access to member-only resources and community engagement. Second, ECAP then helps each candidate member measure its practices and policies in relation to ECAP’s child safety standards, with resulting recommendations such as updating policies, improving employee and volunteer training, creating an allegation response plan, addressing mandated reporting requirements. Candidate members thus receive frank and detailed guidance – hopefully but not necessarily toward eventual accreditation. Third, the ministry can proceed further through the full accreditation process, which includes remote and onsite assessments, additional guidance, related recommendations for improvement, and other support provided through skilled ECAP auditors and staff. Upon ECAP’s approval, an accredited member ministry can continue benefiting from ECAP’s resources and support – and, most importantly, obtain assurance that its operations reflect consistency with best practices for optimal child safety.

How else can ECAP benefit a ministry?

ECAP’s website contains extensive and freely available resources including the standards and checklists themselves, child safety articles, book recommendations, and other practical tools like a risk assessment and a sample code of conduct. The processes outlined above are all designed to help thoughtful and conscientious ministry leaders to take stock – and then take action – to better protect children engaged in their programs.

Is there a cost for accreditation membership?

Yes, but all ECAP fees are modest and scaled to the type and size of each ministry organization. Once accredited, a ministry may renew its ECAP membership for similarly modest fees and with continued child protection resources. ECAP is a nonprofit Section 501(c)(3) public charity, and therefore members and other supporters are encouraged to support ECAP additionally through generous charitable contributions.

To get started with ECAP accreditation, to learn more about ECAP membership and child safety standards, or to access ECAP’s other helpful resources, please visit ECAP’s website.

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