Adding a new child
Adding new children to the Children module is probably the most basic functionality you'll use in ChurchSuite so we've made it really easy and intuitive. As well as importing batches of children using the Import children option, you can add people individually, as explained below. Outside the scope of this article, but covered in a related article, there's also an Embeddable Address Book form and a My Details form that can run within Connect on a device at your Information Point, so that newcomers can submit their details and areas of interest directly into your ChurchSuite modules and newcomer integration processes.
In this article
Introduction to the Children module
The Children section of the Children module is divided into three View sections representing the status of children whose parents have given their consent for you to hold their information - active, pending and archived.
The Address Book module, which has its own Contacts section, is laid out in exactly the same manner as the Children module. This module is intended to be used for adult contacts.
A note about people's 'status'
Your Children module may well contain different types of children, not just those who are attending, serving or participating. The active section of your Children module, i.e. children with an "Active" status, are all those whom your church or organisation is 'touching and tracking', from the crowd to the core, irrespective of their level of engagement or commitment but whom you still consider to be part of your organisation's ministry and mission. They're all the people whom you may wish to communicate with or whom you still wish to maintain historical or statistical data for. You can use tags to distinguish the different levels of engagement of children you have in the 'active' section of the module.
When people move on from your church or organisation you may decide to delete them from the module entirely if they are unlikely to return - this would certainly be best data protection practice if you no longer have a lawful basis for continuing to process their personal information. Subject to your data protection policy, you may however prefer to archive children for a season, giving you the option to reinstate them again in the future or to delete them after a further period of inactivity. You may also be able, or even required, to maintain certain personal information about former members where you have a lawful basis. See the related support articles on what happens when a contact is archived or deleted.
When people submit their details through ChurchSuite's web-embeddable features (e.g. small group sign-up through embed or the embeddable address book form), new children are first added to the "Pending" section of the module. Setting a "Pending" child as "Active" will move them to the "Active" section. "Pending" is not a reference to a child's level of engagement with or commitment to your church or organisation - instead, you should use tags to distinguish levels of engagement of children within the "Active" section of your Children module - e.g. members and non-members. Once set as "Active", children cannot be set as "Pending" again; they can only be archived or deleted.
Pending status contacts must be Set active (see screenshot above) before they can participate in any wider ChurchSuite functionality. For example, only active children can be processed through Flows, be assigned to Tags, be included in communications or be included within report results. The Pending section is therefore not the place for non-members! Instead, those whom you determine to be "non-members" should be tagged accordingly in your "Active" Children module.
How to add a new child
To add a new child (or edit, archive or delete an existing one) you will need to be a User with Manage module permissions for the Children module. If you only have 'Use' permissions you will only be able to view, report on or export data for the module. In the Children section of the Children click the Add child button.
On the Add child pop-up you can now fill in the various fields of child and parent information. The minimum information required that constitutes a valid child record is First Name and Last Name and Parent Contact (who may or may not be in your Address Book - see next section). The child's First Name is typically their Known as name - there's an optional field in the module's settings for Formal Name - see later in this article.
For each child being added, you can Link them to a contact - typically a parent, but other Relationship options are provided. You can either link to a contact In the Address Book - and use the Contact 'search' to select and link them...
...Or you can link the child to a person Not in the Address Book, entering the Name and Relationship.
Further information about linking children to their parents can be found in our related support article.
Click Save Changes when you've finished entering all the information.
In addition to a wide range of standard child fields, ChurchSuite provides a number of optional fields that you can easily enable or disable in the Children module's settings. The module's settings are accessed via the 'cogwheels' Settings icon (accessible to Administrators and Users with "Manage module" permissions). Click to Edit to make changes to optional fields.
Disabling an optional field will prevent that field from being used throughout the platform, including any reporting that references that field and any Smart Tag conditions for that field. Any data in that disabled optional field will persist but is hidden from view/use.
Top Tip! - Formal names and 'known as' names
The optional Formal Name field enables you to record the formal first name of a contact. For example, you may put the name ‘Becky’ in the First Name field - the child's “known as” name - and ‘Rebekkah’ in the Formal Name field. A child's Last Name is automatically appended to their formal name when displaying full names in lists, so the last name should not also be added in duplicate into the Formal Name field.
…will display as
Within the Children module's settings you can also add your own Custom Fields - see the related support article for further information about adding your own custom fields.
Accounting for school year offsets
Ordinarily the Children module displays a child's school year based on their date of birth and in the correct class/grade system for your region/country. However, there may be times where it's helpful to override a child's default school year - perhaps where a child has graduated into the next school year early or been held back a year. To reflect this, each child's profile page includes a School Year Offset option that enables you to increase or decrease the school year.
Navigate to a child's profile page and click Edit. In this example, notice that the child is in school Year 5 based on their date of birth and actual age.
On Edit child pop-up, scroll down to the School Year Offset field. By default there is No offset.
In our example, selecting an offset of +1 has the effect of changing the child's school year from Year 5 to Year 6 (below)...
...while selecting -1 has the effect of changing the child's school year from Year 5 to Year 4 (below).
School year offsets have the effect of making the child seem older (+1/+2 years) or younger (-1/-2 years). However, adding a school year offset has no affect on the child's actual age - for example, the Birthdays report will always show the child's correct birthday age based on their actual date of birth. Similarly, adding a school year offset has no affect on the child's eligibility for your children or youth groups, which continue to be based on the child's actual date of birth and age (not the school year they are in). However, adding a school year offset is taken into account when displaying the Years report results when filtering by School years, and when showing the 'school year' field in the Table Generator report or using the 'school year' field as a condition in Smart Tags.
Region-specific support for school year structure
We currently support school years in the local format (school year naming convention and school year start date) for the following locations:
- United Kingdom (with specific support for England/Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland separately)
- Australia (all regions)
- Hong Kong
- Republic of Ireland
- Republic of Korea (inc International Schools)
- The USA
We are also able to add school year support for other countries upon request, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org. All other countries will default to the UK (England/Wales) school year settings.
You can change the school year structure that ChurchSuite uses to determine the default school year for children and young people. Head into the Children module settings via the 'cogwheels' Settings icon. On the Module Options tab scroll down to the School Year Structure settings and Edit as appropriate.