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 the process easy and intuitive. As well as importing batches of children using the Import children option, you can add children 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 accessible within Connect for a device at your Information Point so that newcomers can submit their details, children details and areas of interest directly into your ChurchSuite modules and your 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 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 being part of your organisation's ministry and mission. They're all the people with whom you may wish to communicate with or whom you still wish to maintain historical or statistical data. 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 the 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 complete the various fields of child and parent information. The minimum information required that constitutes a valid child record is First Name and Last Name. The child's First Name is typically their Known-as name - there are optional fields in the module's settings for Middle Name and Formal Name - see later in this article.
For each child being added, you can optionally Link them to a contact - typically a parent, but other Relationship options are provided - selecting parent is In the Address Book, and use the Contact 'search' to select and link them...
...Or you can select the parent is Not in the Address Book and enter the Name, Relationship, and other contact details which will be stored against the child's profile. In this way, you can still maintain a child's parent/guardian contact details even if they do not belong to your Address Book.
Further information about parent/contact-child linking parents can be found in our related support article. Finally, click Save when you've finished entering all the information. The newly-added child's profile is displayed, showing all the details you have just added. You can return here in the future to Edit and make further changes to the child's details.
In addition to a wide range of standard child fields, ChurchSuite provides several optional fields that can be enabled in the Children module's settings. The module's settings are accessed via the cogwheel icon in the top-right corner of any page in the module. Click Edit to make changes to the 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. Existing data for the field persists 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, and for any child data that doesn't fit within one of ChurchSuite's standard or optional fields, you can add your own Custom Fields - we've produced a separate support article for further information about adding custom fields.
Accounting for school-year offsets
The Children module uses each child's date of birth to determine their school year and the correct class/grade system for their region/country. However, there may be times when it's helpful to override a child's default school year - perhaps when a child has graduated into the next school year early or been held back a year due to additional needs. 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 9 based on their date of birth and actual age.
On the 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 9 to Year 10 (below)...
...while selecting -1 has the effect of changing the child's school year from Year 9 to Year 8 (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 effect 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 effect 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
- The Republic of Korea (inc International Schools)
- The USA
We are also able to add school-year support for other countries on 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.