JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention (ECAP) has released “ground-breaking” standards for child safety and opened them for public review, March 1. The standards are offered to assist ministries of all kinds as they work to protect children in their care.
The ECAP standards were developed by a team of experts and ministry practitioners, reviewed by a team of attorneys, and approved for public review by the ECAP board of directors. A full list of persons who helped develop the standards is available on the ECAP website. ECAP seeks to bring support, resources, and sustainability to the realm of child safety, especially within the evangelical world, which has witnessed abuse within its ranks and the surrounding culture.
“Our aim is to honor the name of Christ by equipping and educating ministry leaders to protect the vulnerable in their care,” said Jeff Dalrymple, Executive Director of ECAP. “This is a matter of biblical stewardship, and we want to see Christian schools, churches, and ministries become safe places for our little ones to hear the gospel, grow as disciples of Christ, and be protected from harm.”
The ECAP standards address issues of organizational governance, volunteer and employee screening and training, how to respond to a variety of circumstances, and more, with numerous suggestions for best practices. ECAP has made these standards available for public review from March 1 through April 30, seeking feedback that is either specific or general, as well feedback that identifies areas that need clarification or are missing information.
“ECAP’s standards and the rest of its work is ground-breaking and extremely important for churches and other ministries seeking to protect children and uphold high standards,” said Sally Wagenmaker, an attorney serving as the organization’s general counsel. “I can’t wait to see ministries using ECAP’s valuable accreditation standards and related tools — for improved child safety, better risk management, and the glory of God in all they do.”
The standards will serve as the basis for an accreditation program, which has been developed in partnership with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), an organization representing 25,000 Christian schools in 108 countries serving more than 5.5 million students. The standards and accreditation program will give Christian organizations resources that protect them from making false assumptions in regard to child abuse — assumptions that abuse will not happen, that offenders are readily identifiable, and that their organizations are already safe. The ECAP standards will help prevent abuse and inform an appropriate response when an incident occurs.
“We must never be silent in the face of abuse,” said Jenna Quinn, author of Pure In Heart: A Memoir of Overcoming Abuse and Passing Jenna’s Law. “Communities of faith should not only seek to protect the vulnerable, but also seek to love the wounded and victimized. Although I grieve that such an organization is necessary, ECAP is committed to creating standards to prevent, report, and respond redemptively to sexual abuse. When abuse and its effects are minimized, we lose an opportunity to shine the light of the gospel in a dark place. I’m grateful for the work of ECAP and pray that every organization will see its value.”
“All those interested in the safety and well-being of children in the care of evangelical ministries are encouraged to carefully review the standards and offer suggestions for improvements, additions, and other thoughtful feedback,” said Dalrymple. “We are especially interested in receiving the input of frontline ministry workers and leaders.”
To review the standards, visit the ECAP site at www.ecap.net/standards, where feedback can be offered online. Following review of the feedback, ECAP expects to release the final standards on the ECAP website at a later date.
ABOUT ECAP: The Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention was formed as a national organization in June 2019 in response to a growing awareness of the problem of sexual abuse within evangelical churches and ministries. ECAP seeks to offer a proactive, comprehensive solution for protecting children and the vulnerable from abuse within evangelical ministries. ECAP will offer accreditation to ministries that commit to operate according to standards for addressing and preventing abuse of children in their care.
Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention