Child check-in

Introduction

ChurchSuite's Child Check-In feature is purpose-built to help churches register and check children and young people into groups quickly and securely, and then just as easily check them out again at the end, while helping ensure that each child is returned to the correct parent.

The Check-in system can be used to check in your regular children, serving team members and visiting families, and can be used for churches with either central staffed or unstaffed check-in stations, or for "in group" check-in/out on a portable device, or a combination of both. The Child Check-in system provides churches with valuable children attendance records back in ChurchSuite's admin-facing system, so that you can also easily monitor growth in this vital area of ministry.

When used with a compatible Brother label printer, the Child Check-In system can be used to print child name badges, parent pick-up badges, room badges and team badges. It is also possible to use the Check-in system without badge-printing, perhaps for a mid-week youth gathering where you simply want to maintain an accurate check-in/out register of attendance.

The system is incredibly versatile, allowing churches to effectively manage adult-to-child ratios, and any restrictions you may have around each group's capacity (preventing further check-ins once capacity is reached).

Supported hardware: check-in device

Where speed of processing queues of parents and children is crucial, we recommend using a "wired" printer connected to your check-in device or computer by USB - badge printing is quicker with wired printing. A Windows device running Chrome works best as Chrome supports the use of kiosk mode and silent printing. 

The system can also be used in a wireless configuration with compatible hardware (check-in device and printer). The device must be either a Windows device running Google Chrome, or an Android device running our beta-version Connect App (available on request). Outside of the the Android Connect app, Android devices are not suitable for browser printing due to constraints in Android native Google Print, which does no support kiosk mode and silent printing.

The Connect App is not compatible with iOS devices currently, although an iOS Connect app will be available in the future. iOS devices are not suitable for badge printing due to the constraints of the native Apple Air Print which doesn't support kiosk mode and silent printing. iOS devices can however be used for check-in where badge printing is not required and for check-out.

The first four sections in this article cover the configuration of the Child Check-in system, and usually only need to be done once - required configuration includes:

  • Installing and configuring the Brother label printer on your check-in device
  • Configuring the Connect settings in ChurchSuite's Children module
  • Configuring the browser for kiosk mode on your check-in device

The remaining sections then cover the operation of the Check-in system - opening a check-in session and checking children in and out, and the Child Check-in "Admin Area", which will be used by your leaders.

In this article

Configuring your Brother label printer - Mac
Configuring your Brother label printer - Windows
Configuring the Child Check-in settings in ChurchSuite
Configuring 'kiosk mode' in your web browser
Starting a check-in Session on a Sunday
Checking a child in - overview
Checking in children using 'group' search
Using the Admin Area to check in a registered child (two-stage)
Checking in team members
Checking a child out

Getting started...which printer?

Before using the Child Check-In system, you will first need to install and configure the Brother label printer on your computer. ChurchSuite supports the Brother QL-570, QL-710W and QL-720NW models. We also recommend Google Chrome as the preferred browser for running Child Check-in on a computer - Chrome supports silent "kiosk" mode printing so that labels are printed without the usual on-screen print confirmation messages. Other browsers can be used - see our related support article "Silent printing and kiosk mode alternatives for Child Check-in".

You will also need to configure the Child Check-in settings in the Children module in ChurchSuite and configure 'kiosk' mode in your web browser.

Getting started...wifi & internet considerations

Child check-in relies on uninterrupted internet access during a check-in session, as your child attendance data is written back to your Children module from the check-in system in real time. Churches will experience unavoidable connectivity issues if either the connection between the check-in device and printer, or the check-in device and the internet, is lost.  We therefore recommend you use a dedicated router with it's own private network for your mission-critical processes like Child Check-in and at your Information Desk if you're using Connect.

Many churches offer attendees public wifi at their services and events, however this will likely create connectivity issues if that public wifi is handled through the same router or access point that child check-in is using. This can particularly happen during child check-in/out where higher than usual numbers of people congregate in one area to drop off or collect their children, placing additional load on routers or access points in close proximity. Most routers and access points are only capable of handling 30-50 simultaneous connections, with priority given to the newest connections, and the oldest connections disconnected first as the router load balances the connections. This means that while your leaders have success connecting to the internet when they set up the check-in system first thing in the morning when there are hardly any connections, lost connectivity could be experienced as people begin to arrive and connect to your public network.

To minimise connectivity issues in environments where you provide guest wifi access, we strongly encourage you to protect your mission-critical IT processes by keeping them on dedicated hardware i.e. a dedicated router/access point located in close proximity to your check-in system, with a private WiFi network and no public/guest connections through that hardware. 

Tip/Suggestion: Portable MiFi solutions (or tethering to a phone's data service) are inexpensive and may be helpful in your context where 3G/4G signal is good. They may not be suitable for rural settings or where the building blocks or limits mobile data signal strength.

You will also need to configure the Child Check-in settings in the Children module in ChurchSuite and configure 'kiosk' mode in your web browser.

Configuring your Brother label printer - Mac

These instructions are for Mac users. We also have instructions on configuring the Brother QL-570 printer for Windows - see later in this article.

While ChurchSuite's admin-facing system can print labels on a wide variety of label stationery, the Child Check-in system requires a specific printer that prints on continuous label stationery - the Brother QL-570. The Brother QL-710W and QL-720NW are also compatible.

Step 1 of 2 - Installing the Brother printer on your Mac

First, insert the CD that came with the Brother QL-570 printer into your Mac. If you are on a Macbook without a CD/DVD drive, you will need to download the printer installation files from Brother's website.

In Finder, navigate to the manufacturer CD/DVD and open it (or the downloaded file), and open the Mac OS X folder.

Double-click the folder "Brother QL-570 Driver" (or the QL-710/720 folder).

Then open the folder that corresponds to your version of Mac OSX. To find out which version of OSX you are running, click the Apple symbol in the top left-hand corner of your screen, and select "About This Mac". The version number can be found underneath the large "OSX" heading.

Double-click "Brother QL-570 Driver.pkg".

Complete the installation process by following the steps in the installation app.

Step 2 of 2 - Configuring the Brother printer for ChurchSuite on your Mac

Having installed the device drivers in Step 1, you must now configure the printer - to set the default printer and change the default paper size on the device you are running Child Check-in. You can only configure the printer for ChurchSuite if it is correctly installed (see above). The following instructions assume you are using Google Chrome.

Open Google Chrome and press Cmd+P to bring up the "print" dialog. At the bottom, in the left-hand column, select "Print using system dialog..."

From the drop-down "Paper Size" menu, select "Manage Custom Sizes...".

On the next screen, locate the "+" symbol and click to "Add a custom paper size".

Your new "custom paper size" will now appear in the list above, called "Unknown". To rename it, double click it and enter "ChurchSuite Labels 205 Small". Press "Enter" to confirm the change on the list.

Next, click the "Width" field (next to "Paper Size" at the very top of the Custom Paper Sizes dialog) and enter "62", and enter "29" into the "Height" box (millimeters).

Click "OK" to save the changes, or alternatively, click "+" to add a further new custom paper size; perhaps for 'Large" labels - see below. Close the "Custom Paper Sizes" box when you are finished.

Big labels or small?

Please note, the instructions above are for the "205 Small" size label. If you want to use the "205 Large" size label instead, follow the same instructions but set the width to 62mm and the height to 100mm.

Printing costs

"205" refers to the Brother continuous label stationery you'll need for your QL printer - part number DK205 (or non-branded equivalent); and is available inexpensively from a number of online resellers. A DK205 continuous label roll is approx. 30.4m (30,400mm) long and will therefore produce 304 x 100mm length large labels, or 1048 x 29mm length small labels, (or 706 x 43mm length Android Connect App check-in labels). In calculating your anticipated costs and stationery needs, remember that labels may be printed for child name badges, parent pick-up badges, room badges and team badges, depending on your configuration, and will all be printed on the same size label - it is not possible to set different size labels for each badge type as the size is governed by the printer driver and not ChurchSuite.

Stop your printer sleeping!

By default, Brother printers are preset to sleep and power down after 60 minutes of inactivity. Ordinarily, this isn't an issue, unless your church has multiple weekend services where the printer may switch off in between services and check-in sessions, resulting in possible connectivity issues or queued unprinted labels that cause a bottleneck. This Brother support article explains how to override the default sleep settings and  disable the inactivity power down.

Having set up the custom paper size (label), you will now configure the default printer and assign the default paper size to that printer. Begin by clicking on the "Apple" logo in the top left-hand corner of your computer screen and select "System Preferences".

In the System Preferences dialog, select "Print & Scan".

Find and click the Brother QL-570 printer in the list of printers (or the 710W/720NW).

In the bottom left-hand corner of the box, click on the padlock icon that says "Click the lock to make changes" to unlock it - you may be required to enter your computer's administrator password.

Next, locate the option that says "Default paper size". From the drop-down list select your newly-created "ChurchSuite Labels 205 Small" (or, if you want the the larger labels, select "ChurchSuite Labels 205 Large"). Confirm also that the default printer is set to your Brother label printer. Finally, click the lock in the bottom left-hand corner again to "lock" the changes you have made. You can now close the System Preferences dialog box.

The Brother printer is now ready to be used with the Child Check-in system. Before proceeding, check that you have configured the Child Check-in settings in the Children module options - see later in this article.

Configuring your Brother label printer - Windows

These instructions are for Windows users. We also have instructions on configuring the Brother QL-570 printer for Mac - see earlier in this article.

While ChurchSuite's admin-facing system can print labels on a wide variety of label stationery, the Child Check-in system requires a specific printer that prints on continuous label stationery - the Brother QL-570. The Brother QL-710W and QL-720NW are also compatible.

Step 1 of 2 - Installing the Brother printer on your Windows computer

First, insert the CD that came with the Brother printer into your computer. If you using an Ultrabook, or other laptop without a CD/DVD drive, you will first need to download to printer installation files from Brother's website.

If the "Autoplay" box appears, select "Run Setup.exe"; alternatively, using Windows Explorer, navigate to the "Setup.exe" file on your CD/DVD drive and open it.

Click on "Standard Installation" to begin the process.

When asked, accept the licence agreement and follow the on-screen instructions. When prompted, select the printer model you wish to install - either QL-570, QL-710W or QL720NW and click "OK".

When the installation is complete, click "Exit" in the bottom right-hand corner of the Setup dialog box.

Step 2 of 2 - Configuring the Brother for ChurchSuite on your Windows computer

Having installed the printer software, you must now configure the printer and set the default printer and change the default paper size on the device you are running Child Check-in. You can only configure the printer for ChurchSuite if it is correctly installed (see above). The following instructions assume you are using Google Chrome.

Working on the computer you intend to run Child Check-in, click on the Windows "Start" menu (or "Start" screen on Windows 8) and select "Devices and Printers".

Find the Brother printer in your list of installed printers (display may vary depending on your Windows version).

Right-click and select "Set as default printer".

Right-click again and select "Printing preferences".

In the "Brother Printing Preferences" pop-up window, on the "Paper" tab, click the "Format" drop-down menu and change from "Normal Format" to "Small Address Label".

Big labels or small?

Please note that these instructions are for the Small label badge size. If you prefer to use the Large labels, select "Large Address Label" and set "Width" to "100mm x 62mm".

Printing costs

The Brother label stationery required is part number "DK205" (or equivalent), and is available inexpensively from a number of online resellers. A DK205 continuous label roll is approx. 30.4m (30,400mm) long. Typically a single roll will produce 304 x 100mm length large labels, or 1048 x 29mm length small labels, (or 706 x 43mm length Android Connect App check-in labels). In calculating your anticipated costs and stationery needs, remember that labels may be printed for child name badges, parent pick-up badges, room badges and team badges, depending on your configuration, and will all be printed on the same size label - it is not possible to set different size labels for each badge type as the size is governed by the printer driver and not ChurchSuite.

Stop your printer sleeping!

By default, Brother printers are preset to sleep and power down after 60 minutes of inactivity. Ordinarily, this isn't an issue, unless your church has multiple weekend services where the printer may switch off in between services and check-in sessions, resulting in possible connectivity issues or queued unprinted labels that cause a bottleneck. This Brother support article explains how to override the default sleep settings and  disable the inactivity power down.

Having selected "Small Address Label", check that the "Width" now shows "62mm x 29mm".

Click "Apply" and "OK" to save your changes.

The Brother printer is now ready to be used with the Child Check-in system. Having installed the printer software and configured the printer driver defaults, you can now proceed with configuring the Child Check-in settings in ChurchSuite (see next section).

Configuring the Child Check-in settings in ChurchSuite

Having configured the Brother printer and set the default printer and printing preferences (see previous sections), there are a number of helpful Child Check-in settings within ChurchSuite that will enable you to customise the system to suit your needs and the experience of leader/parents/visitors when they use check children in or out.

In ChurchSuite, and beginning in the Children module, click the module settings - the cog-wheels in the top right-hand corner of the page - you'll need Manage module or Administrator permissions to access this.

Select the "Connect" tab - this has all the settings related to Child Check-In.

We'll work through each of the settings in turn.

Choose the default Gathering that Check-in will use - probably your Sunday services Gathering - although you can override and select a different Gathering when you open a Check-In session (see later in this article for "Starting a check-in session on a Sunday").

Specify the "ticket size" for the printed badges - this will be either the small or large labels size that you previously configured as the default in the printer settings. It's important that the label size selected here in ChurchSuite match those set for your printer. Again, you will be able to override this and select a different label size when you start the Check-In session, if you need to (however, you must change the printer defaults if you do this).

Next, set whether the "check-in code" will be auto-generated by ChurchSuite, or whether a check-in code will be manually entered by your leaders when a child is checked in - for example if you are using pre-numbered wrist bands, you can manually enter the number of the band you give to the parent. Remember, the check-in code is what you will likely use in order to match against the child when handing a child back to the correct parent at the end of the Session.

Selecting 'Auto-generated by ChurchSuite' will create a unique 'pick-up' code that will be shown on both the parent pick-up badge and all child badges printed for that family. A unique code is generated for each family's children and it is unique to the date and Gathering children are being checked in to - it's therefore not possible to use an old or discarded pick-up badge in future Sessions! Both "auto-generated" and "manually entered" pick-up codes are recorded with the attendance data that gets automatically added back in the Children module >Attendance, so you'll always have a record of check-in codes and date/time stamps.

You can also set the default Process setting, selecting between one-stage "Register & Check-In", or two-stage "Register first, Check-In later". A detailed explanation of the difference between these two options is provided later in this support article.

Continuing through the settings. Next, add an optional custom 'welcome message' to be displayed on the Child Check-in screen to greet parents - this might, for example, include simple instructions for parents/visitors.

Next, set any Child Check-in 'Search Field' restrictions. By default, you can search for a child by first name, last name, the full or last 4 digits from a telephone or mobile/cell number, or by scanning the family's barcode.

For churches with unstaffed Child Check-in kiosks, you may choose to further safeguard children's identities by restricting the check-in search fields (see image below), perhaps disabling "name search". For example, by disabling "Name" search, individuals are prevented from random searches like "John", which would otherwise display a list of all the children with "John" in their name.

On the other hand, particularly with a staffed Child Check-in kiosk, or for large numbers of children, having a broader range of "search field" options will make it easier and quicker for parents/visitors to locate and check in their children.

In the "Search Fields" section, select to enable/disable each of the 'search field' options as appropriate.

Note about search restrictions

During Child Check-in, your leaders can use an 'Unlock search' option (on the drop-down arrow button shown below) to search against all fields, should a parent not be able to find their child using a more restricted search. The Child Check-in system PIN will be required if one has been set (to set this, see later in this article).

The search method will automatically lock back down after performing an unlocked search. The search method can also be locked down at any time by selecting "Lock search" if it is no longer required.

The next section of settings relate to customising the child and room badges. A visual example of each badge is shown. As you check and uncheck the various options, the example badges are updated so that you can see what a printed badge will look like. Note that it is not possible to customise the Parent 'pick-up' or Team badges.

The next settings relate to Visitors. Using these settings you can set which fields of information are requested from visitors when they check a child in using the Child Check-in system. You can also set which fields are 'required'. You might, for example, find it helpful to make certain fields 'required' so that you can always contact the parent in an emergency during a Session, or to follow up with visiting families after the session as part of your newcomer welcome processes (see also the related support article "Managing the details of your child check-in visitors").

For Data Protection reasons, children visitors are not automatically added to your Children module contacts. Instead, a separate log of their attendance is maintained in the Visitors report in the Children module in ChurchSuite. Visitors are deleted automatically if have not checked in for a certain period of time. Using the "Delete visitors after" setting (see image above) you can set how long child visitor details are retained on the system before being deleted.

Continuing down through the Check-In settings, the next section is called "Custom Fields". For each of the Custom Fields that exist in your Children module, you can set whether those fields are visible in the Child Check-In system's "Admin Area". This might be useful if you have particular 'check-in related' custom fields that you would like visible to your leaders when they are in the Child Check-In Admin Area. Simply check (or uncheck) each Custom Field that you wish to set as visible.

Next, add an optional 'Success Message' that is displayed on the screen after a parent clicks 'Check-in' or 'Register', while the badges are being printed. This might, for example, be instructions on how parents/visitors should collect their children at the end of the Session.

The final setting relate to the Check-in "Admin Area", which we recommend should only be made accessible to your leaders. The Admin Area is where leaders can overview the active Child Check-in session, to see which children are registered/checked in. They can also view parent contact details, important medical notes, special needs, custom fields and photo/video consents for children, and much more (see later in this article for a full overview). The Admin Area is also the place your leaders will go to check out children at the end of the Session.

You can set a PIN to restrict access to the Admin Area and only make this known to those leaders who need to know. Once set, the PIN will be required in order to access the Admin Area and view the check-in register and other child/visitor/group check-in information for that session, and also to unlock child search restrictions (see earlier).

Having reviewed/updated the Connect (Child Check-in) settings in ChurchSuite, save your changes before navigating away from the page.

Having installed the printer software (see above), set the printer driver defaults (see above) and configured the Child Check-in options in ChurchSuite, you can now optionally configure your web browser for 'kiosk mode' and 'silent printing' - see next section.

Configuring 'kiosk mode' in your web browser

"Kiosk mode" means that the Child Check-in system operates in full screen mode (to prevent unauthorised access to other areas of the computer) and with "silent printing" (skipping the usual print prompts or user-confirmation questions) to simply print badges without interruption or intervention. We recommend using Kiosk mode on all computers/laptops being used for Child Check-in. This is most easily achieved using Google Chrome on a Windows device.

Not using Chrome on Windows?

We have created a related support article that outlines some of the 'kiosk mode' alternatives if you're not running Child Check-in in Chrome on a Windows device.

From the Windows "start menu" (or Start Page in Windows 8), search for your "Chrome" application. You can also search for it using Windows Explorer, if you wish.

You will see Google Chrome appear at the top of the "Start" menu. Right-click on it and select "Copy".

Now, clicking on a blank area on your desktop, right-click and select "Paste shortcut". This will become the shortcut link that you will use for launching Child Check-in in the future. Right-click on your newly created Chrome shortcut and select "Properties".

Select the "Shortcut" tab and the "Target" field.

In the "Target" field, scroll your cursor to the end of the field content and replace the part that says \chrome.exe" with the following...

\chrome.exe" --kiosk --kiosk-printing https://account.churchsuite.co.uk/connect"

...where account refers to the first part of the web address of your church's ChurchSuite account. For example, if you access ChurchSuite using the URL kingshope.churchsuite.co.uk, your account would be kingshope . Note all the spaces in the above Target link - they're important!

Click "OK" to save the properties for your shortcut. Now, ensure Google Chrome is not already running on your computer (you should use Task Manager to close any running instances of Chrome, especially in Windows 10 where Chrome services continue to run event after closing the application). You can now open a new instance of Google Chrome in Kiosk mode using the new shortcut link on your desktop.

Note: To exit Kiosk mode, press ALT+F4. Please remember this, as this is the only way to close Google Chrome when you are in Kiosk mode!

Starting a check-in session on a Sunday

You can launch the Child Check-in system in several of ways: -

  • by entering your ChurchSuite account URL account.churchsuite.co.uk/connect into your browser (where account is your church's subdomain name)
  • by clicking the "ChurchSuite Connect" button in the Quick Links section on the ChurchSuite summary page in the admin-facing system, and selecting the Child Check-in system there.
  • by clicking the "Goto Child Check-in" button located on Children > Attendance on the right-hand side of the page, and selecting the Child Check-in system there.
  • using the Child Check-in "kiosk mode" browser shortcut that you created in the previous section of this support article.
  • using the beta-version Android "Connect" app on a compatible

Login with your ChurchSuite username and password if prompted. Note also, to select "Connect" from the "Take me to" drop-down list, otherwise you may end up in your ChurchSuite "admin-facing" system rather than the "Connect" system where Child Check-in is located!

To use the Child Check-in system a user must be either (1) an Administrator user, (2) have 'manage' permissions for the Children module, or, (3) have "Connect > Check-in" user permissions.

From the above page, you can either join any active Sessions running, or open a new Session.

To open a new Child Check-in "Session", it is usually only necessary to enter a Session name, or select a Session name from "Suggested names" list and then click "Save Changes". This is because the Gathering and all the other Child Check-in options (shown in the "Show Options" - see screenshot above) will usually reflect the default Connect options in your Children module settings, or the settings remembered from the last time that "Suggested names" Session was used.

Note: The "Suggested names" are derived from previous Child Check-in Session names that have been used. It is not necessary to create a new Session name each time you use the check-in system. We recommend you use the same Session name each week for a Gathering so that you can more helpfully track attendance history for that Session over time - this will not be possible if you have a different Session name every week! If you have multiple weekend services and mid-week Gatherings, you might have a different Session for each Gathering that the Child Check-in system is to be used. A date and time stamp is automatically added to the child/visitor attendance data when they are checked in and out.

To review or change the default Session settings, simply follow these additional steps...

If your church operates children/youth groups across multiple Gatherings, select the relevant Gathering from the list - remember, the Gathering is the umbrella under which your groups exist, so select the Gathering that has the groups that you want to use check-in for. For more information about the distinction between "Gatherings, Groups and Sessions", see the related Support Articles listed at the end of this article.

Click "+ Show Options".

The Session Options allow you to override/set the "Check-In Code", toggling between an an "auto-generated" code that will appear on both the child and parent pick-up badges, or a "manually-entered" code, perhaps if you are using pre-numbered pick-up wristbands.

The "Process" setting is to select between "[One Stage] Register and Check-in" (i.e. badges are produced and the child is immediately checked-in, with an attendance record added to the system), or "[Two Stage] Register First, Check-In Later" (i.e. badges are produced but no check-in or attendance record is added until the child is later checked into their group via the Child Check-in "Admin Area").

'One Stage' or 'Two Stage' check-in?

For Sessions where children will immediately go straight to their groups from the Check-in station (i.e. handed over to your leaders there and then), you would likely choose "[One Stage] Register and Check-in" - badges are printed and check-in attendance entry is recorded.

If, however, children are to be registered first - perhaps before the service at a central registration point where they will get their child/parent badges, but then either remain with parents until later in the service, or because the parents still have responsibility for their children at the point of registration until they are handed over to the leaders in the group's room - you would likely choose "[Two Stage] Register First, Check-In Later".

For "two-stage check-in", no attendance entry is recorded at the point of registration. Only subsequent "check-ins" (recorded by your leaders using the "Group page" in the Child Check-in Admin Area) will add the attendance entry against the child. Therefore, registered children that don't subsequently go to the group for whatever reason, those registrations are deleted from the system when the Session is closed/ended. Up to the point the Check-in Session is close, the "Admin Area" will always show you a list of registered children and checked in children.

The Printing Option is where you can select how many badges of each type are to be printed during the current Session only. Ordinarily ChurchSuite will respect the default "badge print" quantity specified in each of your Group's settings in the Children module. For each badge type you can override the Group default setting and specify the number of badges or even "None" (if no badge printing is necessary).

Click "Save Changes" to set your Session active.

Other check-in devices can now easily join the active Session (i.e. they don't need to repeat all the above steps - you only need to open a new Session once for each Gathering on a particular day).

Once the Session is open, the Check-In page is displayed, ready to receive parents/children. The next sections in this article explain how parents/leaders use the check-in system

Checking a child in - overview

When a parent arrives there are a number of ways that they can check in their child. Depending on the child 'search restrictions' you have configured in the Children module Connect settings (see earlier), they can enter the child's first name or last name, or the full or last four digits of their phone number (either mobile/cell or landline or the child or any linked parent); or if your church has enabled a barcode scanner (see the related support article), they can scan their barcode and have ChurchSuite locate their details that way.

To check-in one or more children in to a group simply click the tick icon beside the name of each child and then click "Check In" (or "Register", if 'two-stage' check-in is being used) to complete the process and print any labels.

You can also check in visiting children. The visitor check-in process begins with the usual 'name search' to make sure they're not already on the system. Select "Child not listed?". On the next screen, enter the child and parent information and click 'Save details' to continue with check-in as normal.

You can set which fields of information you want to gather about visiting children and their parents in the Children module > Connect settings (see earlier section). The child's name, sex and date of birth are always required fields, but other visitor fields can be set as optional in the Children module settings.

Where new/visiting families are checking in multiple children, the contact details from the first visitor registration are pre-populated into the visitor form for subsequent visitor children being added/checked in for that family. In the example below, Harrison was added as a visitor first. Now, when adding the second and subsequent children, the parent contact details are pre-populated into the form, so that just the child details need to be entered. We've made it really easy for visiting parents to add all their children as quickly as possible, with the minimum amount of re-typing!

Visiting children, once added, are retained on the system for a fixed period of time (the visitor retention period is set in the Children module > Connect settings - see earlier) and can therefore be used by visiting parents to check-in again in the future, without the need to re-enter all their details. Note that visitor children are not automatically added as contacts to the Children module (for Data Protection reasons), but are instead logged in the Visitors report in the Children module reports. For repeat visitors you might seek consent to add the family to your database and assign the child to a group.

When checking in a child or visitor, the child is checked in to the group they are assigned to (for regular children), or, if no group assignment is specified, to the group they are eligible for based on their DOB and the group entry/exit age criteria.

It is also possible to make a "one-time" override of the child's suggested group at the point they are being checked in - perhaps so that visiting siblings can be together in the same group. To do this, search for the child (or add the visitor) in the usual way (see example below), then click the "Unlock" padlock in the top-right corner - you'll need to enter your Admin Area PIN to unlock.

Once unlocked, you'll be able to select a different Group from within the same Gathering for that child. You can then select to check them in to that group.

Whether checking in a regular child or visiting child, if "Kiosk mode silent printing" is not enabled, the print confirmation box will displayed, inviting the user to confirm the printing. To prevent these print dialog boxes showing, refer to the earlier section for "Configuring 'kiosk mode' in your web browser", which explains how to enable silent printing. After printing is finished, the "success message" is displayed.

The previewed badges remain visible so that they can be re-printed in the event of a label jam or malfunction; otherwise, clicking "Finish" will cycle the system back to the check-in page for the next parent.

Checking in children using 'group' search

In addition to checking in children by name or phone number (whether it be their own or their parent's), Child Check-In also allows you to check in children by Group search.

Group Search is useful in larger churches where leaders simply want to see a list of all the children that are members of their group, and then simply tick the names (like a register) to check them in. Child and parent badges will still be printed, and visitors can still be added.

To switch from 'child search' to 'group search', select the "Switch to group search" option to enable this functionality (and to revert back to "Child search" again).

Using Group Search screen (below) you will now be able to select which group you want to check children in to (the "Impact" group in the example below), and search for a child/visitor within that Group.

You can filter the list of matching results according to the child's sex, or you can use the "Search all groups" option to look for your search term within all groups (Ben, in the example below) - perfect to make it easy to check whether a visitor or child has been registered with another group before you add them as a visitor for your group.

As with "child search" mode, you check in a child into their group by ticking against the name. As you type in the 'search' box, the group list of names is auto-filtered to match.

Note: For parents checking in multiple children into multiple groups, they will receive their parent pick-up badge(s) when they check in the first child only i.e. only one set of parent badges are produced, and these will be valid for all subsequent children checked in (ChurchSuite will auto-assign the same unique number to all other related/linked children that are subsequently checked in during that Session).

Using the Admin Area to check in a registered child (two-stage)

If ever your leaders need quick access to information during a Check-In Session, the Admin Area of the Child Check-in system provides you with everything you need. It's also the place where you'll check-in children that have already been "registered" as part of two-stage check-in (i.e. register first, check-in later).

To access the Admin Area, simply click the Admin cogwheels in the top right-hand corner of the Check-in page and enter your access PIN, if one has been set (A PIN can be set in the Children module settings > Connect. See earlier in this article for how to do that).

From here you'll be able to see a visual overview of the active Session running. The list distinguishes the "Total" children/visitors/team checked in and the "Now" currently checked-in children/visitors (checked out children will mean that the "Now" totals are less than the "Total") - note the "Now" and "Total" tabs at the top of the page, which you can toggle between.

As check-in progresses during the session, the Capacity indicator bars will change. Depending on the adult-to-child ratios set for each of your groups (set in the Children module > Groups), the indicator bar will change colour, turning from green to orange as you near or reach capacity (calculated as being when the final adult in the adult-to-child ratio is reached). The bar then turns red when you are over capacity - a great way to monitor when it might be necessary to draft in extra adult team members.

Note, only adult team members are used in calculating the progress indicator bar where adult-to-child ratios are specified against the group. So, while young people aged 11+ can check-in as Team, those under 18s are excluded from the adult-to-child ratios.

You can make changes to a group's capacity and adult-to-child ratios. Simply click on any group in the summary page list, and click the "Edit" button at the top of the page...

...and edit the details as appropriate. Changes made here are updated to the Group settings in ChurchSuite in your Children module.

From the Group summary, selecting a Group from the list above drills down into the "Check-Ins" page for that Group (see below). This page shows the Children, Visitors and Team members that have been registered/checked in to the group and, for larger groups, can be filtered by sex, sorted by first or last name or code; or you can use the "Search within group" option.

The check-in attendance register can also be printed (using the "Print Report" button). Note also that primary parent contact information is displayed for each child should team members need to contact a parent if there's a problem during the session.

Clicking on any child will open a pop-up page with further information, including contact details for all parents/guardians, consents, medical information, special needs, additional information and custom fields set as visible in Connect...

This Group Check-In attendance page (image below) is also where your leaders will 'Check out' children when they are collected at the end of the Session. Clicking "Check out" records a 'time stamp' in the attendance data. All your Session check-in and check-out data, including time stamps and the Code, are automatically stored in the Children module > Attendance records. For more information about child check-out, see the section later in this article.

From the Group page you can also access important Medical or Special Needs information, such as allergies or medication, for the group and each child/visitor registered/checked-in...

...and you can view the recent Group's attendance.

Finally, you can add Session-specific Group notes. Group notes pull through into the Session attendance data stored back in your Children module > Attendance records.

Sometimes you may need to move a child to a different Group within the active Session - perhaps to place an unsettled child with a sibling or friend. To move the child, simply locate the child's check-in record in the Group page, click the option button on the right of their name...

...and select "Move child" on the popup window...

Select the new Group they are being moved to and click "Move Child" to confirm the change. The moved child is now included within the new group's attendance check-in data and will be checked out from that group at the end of the Session.

It's also easy to reprint a lost child badge or parent pick-up badge from the Group list. Simply navigate to the relevant Group the child is in, select the cog next to the child's name and choose "Re-print badge". All badges will be re-printed, as per the Session print quantities; it is not possible to print just a parent badge or just a child badge.

Finally, within the "Admin Area", from the Session menu option on the left hand side of the screen, you have options to Leave, Pause or Close the active Session.

From this same menu, clicking "Return" will take you out of the Admin Area back to the check-in 'search' page.

Closing a check-in Session

Closing a check-in Session will apply to all stations and will immediately check out all remaining checked-in children for that Session, including adding a check-out time stamp to each child. All child registrations (two-stage) that have not yet been checked-in will be deleted. A Session should only be closed at the end of the meeting once all children have been checked out and returned to parents. Any active Sessions that are still open will be automatically closed at midnight.

Checking in team members

Some churches find it helpful to check-in their children's ministry team members in order to know if they have sufficient team present to run the children's group safely. The team check-in option can also produce a team badge, so that visiting families can easily identify your team members when handing over children or if they have questions.

Note

Only children aged 11 years and older can be checked in as Team members. Children under this age will not display in the Team check-in search results.

Whether a Team badge is printed is determined by the option set when your opened the Check-in Session - in the "Printing" options, toggle the Team badge from "None" to "One".

Just as children are checked in, notice the "Team" option under the name search (see below). To check-in a team member, toggle from "Children" to "Team" and enter the name in the 'search' box.

Select the Group that team member will be assigned to.

The Team badge is generated and printed.

Now, within the Check-in Admin Area, you can view a summary of checked in team members...

...and drill down to individual groups or "All groups" (shown below) to see the names of team members who are check-in (the smaller font "+ 1" indicates an under 18 team member)

When viewing the Team for a particular group (rather than viewing as "All Groups"), you have the option to 'move' a Team member to another group, or to 'delete' a Team member. Click the option cog on the right-hand side of the team member's name...

...and select to either 'move' or 'delete' the team member.

Back in ChurchSuite, just as with your child check-in attendance data, team check-in attendance data is also recorded for each group. Go to Children > Attendance. The page displays 'at a glance' each of your Group's children and team attendance for a particular date and session.

You can drill down into the team attendance detail by selecting "View attendance" (or "Edit attendance") from the action cog on the right hand side of the list in order to see a list of the specific team members that checked in. In "edit" view, team attendance can also be manually added/edited if required (example below).

Checking a child out

When it's time to check children out at the end of the Session, you will need to access the Child Check-in "Admin Area".

Top Tip!

Since there are no printing requirements associated with child check-out, your leaders could use their smart phone to complete the child check-out process (any device's web browser will work) - ideal if your groups don't have their own "in-room" check-out device. Leaders could also use their smart phone for group check-in too if there are no badge-printing requirements - ideal for a mid-week youth club.

Access the "Admin Area" by clicking the icon in the top right corner of the check-in page.

Enter the Admin Area "PIN" (See earlier in this article for how to set a PIN in the Children module > Connect settings in ChurchSuite).

Once in the Admin Area you will see an overview of the Child Check-in session. Click on any group to drill down into the group's checkins (or select "All Groups").

To check a child out, and while following your church's safeguarding processes (e.g. matching the parent pick-up badge number with a child's badge number), locate the child's name on the register and click the red “Check out” option beside their name. A time stamp is added.

Top Tip!

If you're using My ChurchSuite in your church and have My Children enabled, parents with My ChurchSuite access could use their "My Children" screen as their parent pick-up badge. Pick-up badge information is displayed for all active Sessions for each checked-in child. It's also useful for the parent who's misplaced their pick-up badge!

Note: This is obviously only useable as a solution for your regular church members with My ChurchSuite access. Parents or visitors without My ChurchSuite will still need to preset a printed pick-up badge. Badges continue to be visible in My ChurchSuite until the child is checked out or the Session is closed.

Note you can also check a child back into a group (if, for example, they left the group temporarily; maybe to return to the adult service for part of the morning) by clicking the green "Check in" link. Using the check-in/out functionality in this way will ensure you always have an accurate roll-call register in the event of an emergency, with the group register always reflecting those children in your care.

You can print out a paper copy of the register by clicking the “Report” button at the top of the page - you will need a suitable printer connect to the computer. Remember to make sure that any child ticked off on the paper register is also checked out on the online register as well!

Once your Check-in/out Session has come to an end and all of the children have been checked out, you can safely close the Session. Within the Admin Area, select the "Session" menu option on the left. Click to Leave, Pause or Close the session as appropriate.

Please note that once a Session has been closed, it cannot be re-opened and all remaining checked-in children will be checked out, and unchecked-in registrations will be deleted.

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