Child check-in - operation
In this article
Adding a template for each of your sessions
Starting a check-in session
Checking in children - overview of the user experience
Overriding a child or visitor's default group
Checking in children using group search
Checking in team members
ChurchSuite's Child Check-In system is purpose-built to help 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 stay on top of who's in their session and ensuring each child is returned to the correct responsible adult when they're checked out.
The Check-In system can be used by regular children, serving team members and visiting families. It can be used at a child registration point in both staffed or unstaffed configurations or by leaders running in-room check-in/out on a portable/smart device, or a combination of both. The Child Check-In system adds an attendance record for children, visitors and teams to the Children module, providing an all-important safeguarding record and comprehensive attendance reporting to monitor growth in this vital area of ministry.
When used with a compatible Brother label printer (see the related Child Check-In Configuration support article), and controlled on a group-by-group basis, the Check-In system can produce 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 wish to maintain attendance but your youth is 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 members moving between groups during a session and any restrictions you may wish to enforce around group 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, which explains how to customise the Check-In system, group settings, and how to configure the check-in device and printers.
In this article, we'll focus on the user experience for your children/youth team - how to start and run a session for parents and visitors to register and check their children in. To make the process of starting a session as simple as possible for your leaders, we encourage you to add a session Template for each session that you typically run across a week - weekend services, mid-week gatherings, youth clubs - each of these gatherings can have a session template. Here's 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 the 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 and click Add template.
On the Add template pop-up, give the session a suitable Name. For example, "Youth Club", "9.30 am Service", or "11.30 am Service". Notice the naming convention - you don't need to include the session date - session attendance will be recorded for each date this session template is used. You'll use the same session settings each time you run child check-in for a particular Gathering. With this in mind, the session name could be the same as the gathering name, however, where a gathering repeats across multiple services, you'll want to set the session name to distinguish the service that attendance will be recorded for. This will help you later with attendance reporting, enabling you 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. You'll likely add a separate session template for each Gathering.
Next, select the Days that this gathering happens. This might be only Sunday for a weekend service, but the Child Check-In system can also be used for mid-week 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 being 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 the children arrive.
Next, select the Check-In Code to be shown on child and parent pick-up badges - this is a safeguarding code that's unique to the parent and each of their children for a session and date, ensuring that your team have a cross-reference between a parent and child. By default, codes are Auto-generated by ChurchSuite but you can choose a Manually entered code where you wish to record your preferred numbering system, perhaps if using pre-numbered parent pick-up wristbands where you want to record the band number given to the parent against their child/children when they're checked in.
The Process setting is either 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).
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 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, the attendance record is only added when the child is handed over into your care - remember, a child may be registered but, for whatever reason, they later decide to stay with their parent in the service after all. With this two-stage option, only when a registered child is 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 will be helpful in the event of an emergency where a "roll call" is needed - you'll know precisely who is in your care (in attendance), not who registered but who may not be in your care!
Registrations for children that don't subsequently check in to their group, for any reason, are maintained in the session attendance data but they are excluded from attendance statistics for reporting purposes.
Finally, the Badge Options determine how many badges of each type are to be printed - enabling you to have different badge-printing options for different sessions. You can set the badge print quantities on a group-by-group basis (see the related support article on Gatherings and Groups). By default, the Check-In system respects the Group default setting, however, for each badge type you can override the Group default setting and specify a fixed number of badges to print or 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). Further session templates can be added as required. Note the Actions available to View, Duplicate, Edit, Archive or Delete a template. You can archive templates that are no longer in use - these can be later Set as active. Deleting a template will not delete any related attendance or children data, it simply removes the template and settings from the system. You can use the Search and Advanced Search to search for templates within a long list.
With session templates created, you are now ready to begin using them in the Child Check-In system, as explained in the next section of this article.
Starting a check-in session
Before children and the 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 the 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 the 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 Dashboard 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. There is no Connect app for iOS devices.
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 a weekend service Information Point - see our related 'Connect' support articles for further information.
You can now select to start/join a session, choosing from one of today's session templates - 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) - click on a session to start or join the appropriate session.
However, if starting a New Session - perhaps because none of the listed Sessions applies - enter a session Name and select the Gathering attendance is to be added for. Remember, it's also not necessary to include a "date" in the session naming convention as the date (and check-in time stamp) is already part of the attendance data that will be recorded for each child/group for the session. For further information about session names, see the previous section in this article. Clicking + SHOW OPTIONS surfaces the same default session settings explained earlier in this article, which you can override if you wish. Click Start Session.
Starting or joining a session opens the check-in page ready to receive parents, children and team members.
At this stage, it may be helpful to test your printer. Click into the Admin area, entering the Admin PIN when prompted - the Admin PIN is set in your Children module settings in the Check-In Options tab. We've produced a separate support article that explains all the admin area functionality.
Click into the Session section and select Print test.
On the Print test pop-up, select between Child or Team – example badges of the selected type are displayed - and click the Printer icon to test that the 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 in children – overview of the user experience
There are several ways a parent can locate their child in the Check-In system. Depending on the child Search Fields you have enabled in the Children module's Check-In Options (see the 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 click each child to be registered or checked in. Children are checked into the group they are assigned to in your Children module. If a child has not yet been assigned to a group in the session's Gathering, the child will be checked-in to the correct group based on the child's date of birth and the group's entry/exit criteria set for the Gathering and they will be added to the group's Member list in the Children module.
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 shown instead. Click Check-in (or Register) to complete the process. 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 set 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
Visiting children can also be checked into groups following the same principle. The visitor check-in process begins with the usual Search to make sure they're not already on the system - visitor details are retained for a period, so a returning visitor can be checked in without needing to re-enter their details. Any matching search results will be listed, together with the option to Add as a visitor.
Selecting Add as a visitor opens a pop-up through which visiting parents can enter the child and parent details. Some of the fields on the form are optional and can be enabled or disabled in the Children module's settings. See the related support article on Managing Visitors for further information. Clicking Save Details will send a customisable Success email to the parent email address (if supplied) confirming the personal details submitted through the form.
The visitor child is added and ticked. At this stage, a visiting family with multiple children can continue to Add as a visitor - some of the previously-entered details from the first child will be pre-populated into the form for subsequent children. Clicking Check-In or Register will check the visiting children in, record their attendance, and produce badges according to the group badge printing settings. The Check-In page then cycles back to the home page ready for the next parent/child.
Notes for multi-site customers
- Visitors are added to the same Site as the Gathering to which they are being checked in. Visitors are assigned to the appropriate group in the Gathering based on their date of birth, the Group entry criteria, and the maximum age for the Gathering
- The child/visitor 'Search' will return matching results based on the permitted sites of the logged-in Connect user for the active Check-In session. If a child or visitor later visits another site, their details will not be found in a child search unless the logged-in Connect user also has site permissions for that site. In this way, user site permissions can be used to constrain access to search results where site-specific granularity is important, or to maximise the search results across multiple sites where helpful
Overriding a child or visitor's default group
There are times when it is helpful to override a child's default group and check them into a different group, perhaps to be with a friend or sibling. You can override a child's group permanently at the point of check-in or you can make a one-time override of a child's group in the Admin area after they have been checked in.
To make a permanent change click the Unlock button in the top-right corner. Select the appropriate new group for the child or visitor, and then click Lock to apply the change. You can then continue checking in the child or visitor in the usual manner.
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. Next, access the Admin area, entering the Admin PIN when prompted. Navigate into the group and locate the child or visitor in the list. Using the action menu to the right of the child's details choose Move child.
On the Move child pop-up, select the new group to move the child to and click Confirm. This one-time move will not affect the child's assigned group shown on their profile record in the Children module.
Checking in children using group search
As an alternative to Child Search, Group search can be useful for in-room check-in where leaders need to see a list of all the children and previous visitors that belong to their group.
To switch from Child search to Group search select the Switch to group search option to enable this functionality (or to revert to Child search).
Select the Group from the drop-down list. The list of matching group members is shown. You can then tick names (like a register) to check each child into the selected group. Child and parent badges can still be printed and visitors can still be added in the usual manner.
You can scroll the list to locate a child to be checked in. For long lists, a helpful Search within the group is provided, and additional filters to show just Boys or Girls. Matching results are filters as you type in the search bar, but you also have the option to Add as a visitor or to widen the matching to Search all groups in the Gathering - perhaps to find a child that has been previously moved to another group.
Checking in team members
For those wishing to manage adult-to-child group ratios team members will need to be checked in. The team check-in functionality can optionally produce team badges so that visiting families can more readily identify authorised team members when handing over children or if they have questions. Address Book contacts and 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. Under 18 team members are not counted for the adult-to-child ratios. 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 adding session templates and opening a new session.
Team members check in just like children. Notice the Team option under the Search. Select Team and enter the team member name in the Search.
From the matching search results select the Group that the team member will be assigned to for the session. Their previous group assignment will default, but any group in the gathering can be selected. Click Check-In and the Team badge is printed. The Check-In system then cycles back to the Child search page ready for the next child, visitor or team member.
Within the Check-in Admin area (see the related support article) a summary of checked-in team numbers is shown (the smaller number "+1" indicates an under-18 team member). An indicator shows adult-to-child ratio progress based on the currently checked-in children, visitors and adult team. The indicator changes from green to orange to red as check-ins reach or exceed the ratio specified for the group.
Back in ChurchSuite in the Attendance section of the Children module, just as with the child attendance data, team attendance is maintained. The Attendance list displays each Group 'at a glance' and the number of Children (including visitors) and Team (adults and under 18s) in attendance for the Date and Session.