Child check-in - operation

In this article

Introduction
Adding a template for each of your sessions
Starting a check-in session
Checking a child in - overview of the user experience
Overriding a child or visitor's default group
Checking in children using group search
Checking in team members

Introduction

ChurchSuite's Child Check-In system is purpose-built to help you register and check children and young people into groups quickly and securely and then, just as easily, check them out again at the end of the session, helping leaders better manage their session and ensuring that each child is returned to the correct responsible adult.

The Check-In system can be used to check in your regular children, serving team members and visiting families. It can be used at your "child registration point" in both staffed or unstaffed configurations or for leaders to run "in room" check-in/out on portable/smart devices or a combination of both. The Child Check-In system automatically adds attendance for children, visitors and team to your Children module, providing you with the all-important safeguarding records and comprehensive attendance reporting to monitor growth in this vital area of ministry.

When used with a compatible Brother label printer, the Child Check-In system can print child name badges, parent pick-up badges, room badges and team badges - or it can be used without any badge-printing, perhaps for a mid-week youth gathering where you simply want to maintain attendance but your youth are too cool to wear badges!!!

The system is incredibly versatile, enabling you to effectively manage every aspect of a safe session, including adult-to-child ratios, handling children/team who move between groups during a session and any restrictions you may have around each group's room capacity (preventing further check-ins once capacity is reached).

Importantly it's easy to use, scaleable and secure – your leaders, parents and visiting families will love it!

Before continuing, we encourage you to first read the related support article on configuring the Child Check-In system, including customising your ChurchSuite Connect and group settings, and setting up your check-in device(s) and printer(s).

In this article we'll focus on the user experience for your children/youth team - how to start and run a session - and for parents and visitors as they register their children. To make the process of starting a check-in session as simple as possible, you'll first create a Template for each session that you typically run across a week - weekend services, mid-week gatherings - each will have a session template against which attendance will be recorded. Let's see how...

Adding a template for each of your sessions

Before using the Child Check-In system, you'll find it helpful to set up templates for each of your various sessions that you'll be recording attendance for. The template contains all the session settings, making starting a new session a 'button click' process at the beginning of each session.

Working within the Children module, click through into the Sessions section of the module from the Attendance menu.

From the Sessions section click Add template.

On the pop up, give your session a suitable Name. For example, "Youth Club", "9.30am Service", "11.30am Service". Notice the naming convention - you don't need to include mention of a date - session attendance is going to be recorded for each date this session template is used. It's likely that you'll use the same session settings each time you run child check-in for a particular gathering. Typically, a session name could simply be the same as the gathering name but where a gathering repeats across multiple services, you'll want to define a session name that distinguishes which service attendance is going to be recorded for. This will help you later with attendance reporting, being able to track attendance for a gathering over a range of dates for each of your services / activities (sessions).

Next, select the Gathering - the collection of groups that attendance is going to be recorded for under this session. See our related support article for further information about creating Gatherings and Groups, and Adding children to groups.

Next, set the Days that this session will typically be used on. This might be Saturday or Sunday for weekend services but the Child Check-In system can of course be used for mid-week sessions for gatherings such as youth clubs and other mid-week activities. Selecting all the possible days this session might be used will mean that the session template is always surfaced on the appropriate day that the Check-In system is used. For example, a session template for a "Thursday youth club" wouldn't be visible except when the Check-In system is used on a Thursday. This will help your team to select and start the correct session before children arrive.

Next, set the Check-In Code that will show on child and parent pick-up badges - essentially a safeguarding code that's unique to the parent and each of their children for that session and date, ensuring that your team can ensure they are returning children to their correct parent who present a pick up badge with a matching code. By default codes are Auto-generated by ChurchSuite but you can select to enter a Manually entered code, perhaps if you are using pre-numbered parent pick-up wristbands where you need to record the band number given to the parent against their child/children.

The Process setting is to select between Register and Check-in (i.e. badges are produced and the child is immediately checked-in, with an attendance entry immediately added to the system - a one-stage process) or Register First, Check-In Later (i.e. badges are produced but no check-in attendance is added until the child is later checked into their group via the Child Check-in "Admin Area" - a two-stage process).

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

For sessions where children go immediately to their groups after registration at the Check-In station - where they're immediately handed over into the care of your leaders - you would likely choose [One Stage] Register and Check-in. In this process the badges are printed and the child's check-in attendance entry is immediately recorded.

However, if children are registered first and handed over to your leaders later, you'll likely choose [Two Stage] Register First, Check-In Later. For example, you want children registered before the service so that they have their badges but the children will remain in their parent's care until later in the service or until they're handed over in the room where the group is meeting. With two-stage processing you can ensure that an attendance record is only added when the child is actually handed over into your care - remember, it's entirely possible that younger children especially might get registered but, for whatever reason, they won't settle and decide to stay with their parent after all. With this two-stage option, only when a registered child is actually handed over into your care and checked in to the group by a leader (using the "Group check-in page" in the Admin Area) will an attendance entry be added against the child/group. This is important in the event of an emergency where a "roll call" is needed - you need to know precisely who is in your care, not who registered but may not actually be in your care!

Registrations for children that don't subsequently check in to their group, for whatever reason, are maintained in the session attendance data but they are excluded from attendance statistics for reporting purposes.

The Badge Options determine how many badges of each type are to be printed for the session - enabling you to have different badge-printing options for different sessions. By default the Check-In system will respect the Group default setting for badge quantities, which may be different from group to group. However, for each badge type you can override the Group default setting and specify the number of badges to print or even select "None" if no badge printing is necessary for this session.

Click Save to add the session template. The newly-added template is added to the list (below). Note the Actions available in the menu on the right hand side, to View, Duplicate, Edit (make changes), Archive or Delete a template. You can archive templates that are no longer in use - these can be set as active again later - use the selector to switch between viewing Active or Archived templates. Deleting a template will not delete any attendance data or children data, it simply removes the template and its settings from the system. You can use the Search and Advanced Search to search for templates within long lists.

Continue adding templates for each of the Sessions your organisation typically runs. You can return to this section in the future to add further templates or to make changes to existing templates as your ministry grows over time. With session templates created, you're now ready to start using them in the Child Check-In system, explained in the next section of this article.

Starting a check-in session

Before children and team can be registered and checked in, you must first start the session. Where multiple check-in devices are being used, you'll start the session on one device and then your other devices will join that active session. Once a session has been started you can then test your printer by producing a test label.

To use the Child Check-in system a User must be either an Administrator or have Connect permissions - see our related support articles for adding and managing users.

Launch the Child Check-in system in any one of the following ways: –

  • In a browser, by entering your ChurchSuite account URL - account.churchsuite.com/connect (where account is your subdomain name) - you can bookmark the Child Check-In URL
  • In a browser, by clicking the ChurchSuite Connect "quick link" on the Summary page in ChurchSuite
  • In a browser, by clicking the Go to Child Check-in button located on Children > Attendance > Sessions
  • In a browser using the Child Check-in "kiosk mode" shortcut that you created when following the guidance in our "Child Check-In - configuration" support article
  • Using the Android Connect app, available from the Play Store, on a compatible Android device - see the related  Connect App support article

Once logged in to ChurchSuite Connect, select the Check-In application. Whether the other Connect applications are shown will depend on your user permissions and the ChurchSuite modules that you subscribe to - the other applications are designed to be used at your a weekend service Information Point - see our related 'Connect' support articles for further information.

You can now select to start/join a session - any templates for the day are listed - or start a New Session. In the example below, there are two Sessions today (derived from the session templates we created in the previous section of this article) - simply click to start or join the appropriate session from the list.

However, if starting a New Session - perhaps because none of the listed Sessions apply - enter a session Name and select the Gathering attendance is to be added for. We recommend using the same session name(s) each week for a Gathering, so that you can more easily track and report historic attendance for a session over time – this will not be possible if you create a different session name every week! Remember, it's also not necessary to include a "date" in the session naming convention as the date (and time stamp) is the very attendance data being recorded for each group for the session. For further information and inspiration, see the previous section in this article for creating session Templates.

Clicking + SHOW OPTIONS (shown above) surfaces all of the default session settings, which you can override if you wish. These options are explained in detail in the previous section of this article.

Having reviewed the Session Options, click Start Session to save the changes and begin the session. Other check-in devices can now join the Active Session.

Clicking Start Session will open the Check-In page ready for you to receive parents, children and team.

At this stage it may be helpful to test your printer settings. Click into the Check-In Admin Area by clicking the Admin button in the top-right corner of the page. Enter your Admin PIN when prompted - the Admin PIN is set in your Children module settings.

Working within the Session section, select Print test.

On the Print test pop up, begin by selecting between the Child and Team badge Type – example badges of the selected type are displayed.

Moving your cursor into the label preview surfaces the option to Print test badges – click the Printer icon to test your printer and label settings are working as expected. Refer to the "Child check-in – configuration" support article for further guidance on setting the printer and label settings.

Checking a child in – overview of the user experience

There are a number of ways that a parent can locate their child in your Check-In system. Depending on the child Search Fields you have enabled in the Children module's Connect Options (see related support article), 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 of the child or any linked parent of the child); or, if your church has enabled a barcode scanner (see the related support article), they can scan their barcode or QR code and locate their children that way.

From the search results simply click each child to be checked in (or registered). Note that children are checked in to the group they are assigned to in your Children module. If a child has not yet been assigned to a group, the child will be auto-added to the correct group based on the child's date of birth and the group's entry/exit criteria set for the Gathering.

When using one-stage check-in a Check-In button is shown (see example below) but if using two-stage check-in, a Register button is displayed instead. Click Check-in (or Register) to check-in (or register) the child/children. If badges are to be produced for any of the selected children these will now be sent to the printer, including any parent pick-up badge and room badge you have enabled in the session settings. The Check-In system will then auto-cycle back to the check-in page ready for the next parent/child.

Checking in visitors

In addition to checking in your regular children, as demonstrated above, you can also check in children of visiting families. The visitor check-in process begins with the usual Search, to make sure they're not already on the system for any reason, perhaps if they've visited previously.

Any matching search results are listed, including the option to Add as a visitor?

Select Add as a visitor. On the Add visitor page enter the child and parent information. The fields on the form are set in your Children module's settings on the Connect Options tab. Required fields are distinguished with a red asterisk symbol. The child's Name, Sex and Date of Birth are always required fields but other fields can be set as optional in the Children module's settings on the Connect Options tab.

If you have uploaded a data protection statement or privacy notice to ChurchSuite, Visitors will be required to confirm they have read, understood and accept your privacy notice. The Save Details button will only become active when they tick to confirm their permission for you to process their personal information in accordance with your policy. Once they click Save Details, a customisable Success email is sent to the parent email address (if supplied) confirming the personal information they have submitted through the form.

After the visitor details are saved, the usual check-in page is displayed, with the visitor child's name pre-selected ready for check-in.

At this stage, for visiting families checking in multiple children, some of the details from the first child are pre-populated into the form for subsequent children being added/checked in for that family. In the example below, Brady was added as a visitor first. Now, clicking Add as a visitor, the parent contact details are pre-populated into the form, so only the child details now need to be entered.

Visiting children, once added in this way, are retained on the system for a fixed period of time (the visitor retention period is set in the Children module's settings on the Connect Option tab), meaning that returning visitors can check-in again in the future without the need to re-enter all their details. For multi-site customers, Visitors are assigned to the same Site as the Gathering into which they are checked in. The child search will only return results of children and visitors who belong to the same site as the session Gathering. If a child or visitor visits a different Site, their details will not be found in a child search for that Session and they will need to be checked in as visitors to that site's Gathering.

Notice (below) that visitors are auto-assigned to the appropriate group in the Gathering based on their date of birth, the Group entry criteria and maximum age for the Gathering.

When using one-stage check-in a Check-In button is shown but if using two-stage check-in, a Register button is displayed instead. Click Check-in (or Register) to check-in (or register) the child. If badges are to be produced for any of the selected children these will now be sent to the printer, including any parent pick-up badge and room badge. The Check-In system will then auto-cycle back to the check-in page ready for the next child.

Overriding a child or visitor's default group

It's possible to override a child's group in two different ways. You can override their group permanently at the point of check-in or you can make a "one-time" override of the child's group in the Admin area after they have been checked in.

You might override a child's group permanently so that visiting siblings can be together in the same group or because a regular child's group needs to be updated. To do this, search for the child or add the visitor in the usual way (see example below), then click the Unlock button 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.

Once revised groups have been selected click Lock to lock in the group(s). This action will alter the child's allocated group in ChurchSuite.

To make a "one-time" override of a child's group – perhaps because they need to join an older sibling for one week only – check them into their regular group first. Select Admin and enter the PIN to enter the Admin area. Select the relevant group and child, then click on the action menu to the right of the child's details and choose Move child.

Select the group you'd like to move the child to and click Confirm. This will be a "one-time" move and will not affect the child's group on their ChurchSuite contact record.

Checking in children using group search

Group search is an alternative to Child search, and is useful in larger churches where leaders simply want to see a list of all the children that are members of their group. They can then tick names (like a register) to check each child in to their group. Group search is ideal for "in room" check-in. Child and parent badges can still be printed and visitors can still be added.

To switch from Child search (below) to Group search, select the Switch to group search option to enable this functionality (and also to revert back to Child search again).

Using Group Search screen (below), select the group within which you wish to search.

In Group Search you can easily locate a child or visitor within that Group – either scrolling down the full list of children or filtering using the Search options at the top of the list of children.

The list of children auto-filters as you type in the Search. For very large groups you can also filter just Boys or Girls if you wish. When searching for a child or visitor you can widen the search to Search all groups (in the current Gathering) – perhaps if the child you are searching for is not listed – in this way it's easy to check whether a visitor or child has been previously registered to another group before you Add as a visitor for your own group.

Simply click on a child's name or Add as a visitor (which works as described earlier) and click Check-In to complete the process.

Checking in team members

For those wishing to manage adult-to-child group ratios team members will need to be checked in too. The team check-in option can also optionally produce a team badge, so that visiting families can easily identify your team members when handing over children or if they have questions. Only children aged 11 years and older can be checked in as Team – those under this age will not be displayed in the team check-in search results. Team members under the age of 18 are not counted towards adult-to-child ratio calculations.

Whether a Team badge is produced is determined by the session template settings or the Printing options set when a new Check-In session is opened - see earlier in this article for further information about creating session templates and adding new sessions.

Team are checked in just like children. Notice the Team option under the Search. Select Team and enter the team member's name in the Search.

In the matching search results, select the Group that team member will be assigned to. The system will default to the previous group they last checked into (if any).

Selecting a Group will tick their name. Click Check-In and the Team badge is generated and printed. The Check-In system then re-cycles back to the Child search page ready for the next child or team member.

Within the Check-in Admin Area (see the related support article) you can view a summary of checked in team numbers (the smaller font "+1" indicates an under 18 team member)....

...and drill down to individual groups or "All groups" to see the names of checked in Team members (column headings are click-sortable).

When viewing the Team section clicking on the action menu icon on the right hand side of a person in the list provides options to Re-print the team member's badge, Move team member to a different group or Delete team member from the active session.

Back in ChurchSuite in the Attendance section of the Children module, just as with your child Check-In attendance data, team Check-In attendance is also recorded for each group. The Attendance list displays 'at a glance' each Group and the number of Children and Team in attendance for a Date and Session.

Clicking on a Session name in the above list will open a session summary listing attendance for all groups for that session and date - children and team. Where the check-in session is still active there are button options to Pause or Close the Session or return to the active session by selecting Go to child check-in. You can also Edit the active session's settings.

You can drill down further into a group's attendance entry for any date by selecting View from the Action menu...

...enabling you to view the specific team members that checked in. You can also manually Add team on this "View" page too, if required.

Still need help? Contact ChurchSuite Contact ChurchSuite