Child check-in - operation
In this article
ChurchSuite's Child Check-In system 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 (see related support article on "configuration"), 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).
Starting a check-in session
Before checking in children or team, you must first open the child check-in Session. Where multiple check-in devices are being used, you'll start the session on one device, and then your other devices can join the active session.
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 "quick link" 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 "quick link" located on Children > Attendance on the right-hand side of the page, and then 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 Android Connect app, available from the Play Store, on a compatible device.
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 start a new Session.
To start a New Session, enter a Session name, or select a session from the "Suggested names" list and then click Start Session. This is because the Gathering and all the other session options (shown in the "Show Options" - see screenshot above) will usually reflect the default session options you'll have set in your Children module settings, or the settings remembered from the last time the "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 and report 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, it may be helpful to have a different session for each gathering that the Child Check-in system is being used. It's also not necessary to include a "date" in the session name, as the date (and time stamp) is recorded as part of the check-in/out attendance data for each child.
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 appropriate Gathering from the drop-down list - remember, the Gathering is the umbrella under which the 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, switching 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 parent 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 the child's check-in attendance entry is immediately 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 when the child is checked in to the group (recorded by your leaders using the "Group page" in the Child Check-in Admin Area) will an attendance entry be added against the child/group.
Registrations for children that don't subsequently go to their group, for whatever reason, are deleted from the system when the Session is closed. Up to the point the session is closed, the "Admin Area" will always display a list of both registered children and checked in children.
The Printing option is where you can select how many badges of each type are to be printed for 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 Start Session to save the changes and begin the session.
Other check-in devices can now join the active Session (i.e. they don't need to repeat the above steps - you only open a new Session once for each Gathering on a particular day).
Once the Session is started or joined, the Check-In page is displayed, ready to receive parents/children/team. The next sections in this article explains the user experience for parents, children and team when using the check-in system
Checking a child in - overview
There are a number of ways that a parent can check in their child. Depending on the child search fields 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 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 have ChurchSuite locate their details that way.
To check-in one or more children 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 for any reason.
Select "Add as a visitor?", and on the next screen, enter the child and parent information and click Save Details to continue with check-in as normal. If you have added a Data Protection message (in Administrator > Profile), visitors are invited to confirm they have "read, understood and accept" your privacy notice. The Save Details button will only become active when they first confirm their consent to you processing their personal data in accordance with the policy.
You can customise the visitor form and set which fields of information you want to gather about visiting children and their parents. This customisation is completed in the Children module > Connect settings (see earlier section in this article). 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 settings. You can also assign a customised visitor welcome email to be sent when a visiting family checks in a child. A confirmation email is always sent to the visitor parent email (if specified), confirming the personal data they have submitted.
Where new/visiting families are checking in multiple children, their contact details from the first child 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 just the child details now 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, but are instead logged in the Visitors report in the Children module reports. For repeat visitors you might seek additional consent to add the family to your database and assign the child to a group.
When checking in a regular 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 date of birth and the group entry/exit age criteria.
You can 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 icon 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 be displayed, inviting the user to confirm the printing. To prevent these print dialog boxes showing, refer to the related support article on "child check-in configuration", and the section for "Configuring 'kiosk mode' in your web browser", which explains how to enable silent printing. After badge printing is finished, the "success message" is displayed.
The previewed badges remain briefly 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 tick the names (like a register) to check them in. Child and parent badges will still be printed, and visitors can still be added. Group search is also helpful for "in room" check-in.
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), select the group within which you wish to search, (the "Impact" group in the example below), and then search for a child/visitor within that Group - either scrolling down the full list of children, or filtering using the search bar.
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) - it's easy to see whether a visitor or child has been registered with another group before you add them as a visitor for the group being viewed.
As with child search mode, you check in a child by ticking their 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 leader Admin Area
If ever your leaders need quick access to information during a Check-In Session, the Admin Area of the Child Check-in system provides them with everything you need. It's also the place where they'll check-in children that have already been "registered" as part of two-stage check-in (i.e. register first, check-in later), and where children are checked out at the end of the session.
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.).
From here you'll be able to see a visual overview of the active Session running. The list distinguishes the Total children/visitors/team registered/checked in and the Now currently checked-in children/visitors (checked out children will mean that the "Now" totals are less than the "Total").
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-Ins report 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-Ins 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's Details 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 group's recent Attendance.
Finally, you can add session-specific group Notes. Group notes are recorded with each group's session attendance data back in the Attendance section of your Children module in ChurchSuite.
Sometimes you may need to move a child (or team member) 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 entry in the Group page, click the options 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 need to be checked out from that group at the end of the Session.
It's easy to re-print 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 log the user out of the Admin Area and return them back to the parent 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.
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 you 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 checked in (the smaller font "+ 1" indicates an under 18 team member).
When viewing the Team section for a particular group (rather than viewing as "All Groups"), you have the option to 're-print [the team member] badge", 'move' a team member to another group, or to 'delete' a team member from the list. Click the option cog on the right-hand side of the team member's name...
...and select to either 're-print', '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".
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 check-ins (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.
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 usable 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 connected 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.