Special Needs Ministry Checklist

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Amy Fenton Lee

Knowing where to begin is half the battle when starting any new ministry or program.  Use this list as a guideline when walking your church through a special needs inclusion initiative.
This checklist was a handout provided in a workshop led by Amy Fenton Lee at the recent Children’s Ministry Expo in Lexington, KY.  Amy provides links to related articles on her own blog, The Inclusive Church Blog, as well as other helpful websites. You can also download this checklist as a printable PDF.


  • Pray for God’s guidance, protection, and blessing through every step!

Designate special needs ministry champion(s) & on-staff advocate

  • Recruit advisory team & begin networking (parents, SpEd professionals)
  • Establish roles & expectations for staff overseeing ministry, lay leaders

Research & develop church-specific vision

Establish a ministry mission statement

Anticipate accommodation adjustments across environments

Recruit & develop volunteers

Incorporate SN issues into kidmin policies & procedures

Create a culture of acceptance

Self-Contained Classroom Inventory

  • Phone – Land lines, working cell phones and/or walkie-talkies
  • Emergency Contacts – Posted laminated protocol & procedures
  • Profiles – Each participant’s pertinent info
  • Bathroom access – Family bathroom ideal, shower a bonus
  • Posted Rules – 5 to10 behavior guidelines w/ pictures
  • Visual Schedule  – Prepare children for transitions
  • Curriculum – Adapt existing lesson plans or purchase new curriculum
  • Music  – Reinforce Bible teaching/Scripture, encourage movement
  • Sensory Toys – Fidget toy during Bible lesson or calming tool
  • Cause & Effect Toys – Calming tool for transitions
  • Guide Rope – Helps wanderers travel between environments
  • Sand Timer – Provides countdown or time warning
  • Tri-write crayons – Aids children with fine motor deficits
  • Painters tape – Defines personal space on activity tables or floor
  • Bean bag chairs – Provides relaxing seat & recharge space
  • Small tent – Removes visual distraction & delineates quiet space
  • Rocking Chair – May fulfill  need for movement or rocking motion
  • Bonus – Multi Sensory Environment or simulated distraction station

Ministry Policies

For more on this topic see this 13-minute interview on special needs ministry.
checklist for special needs ministry

New Sunday School Curriculum: Our Bible lessons are designed to keep the kids’ attention and show how God's Word makes a difference. Every series is flexible enough for a wide-age group and affordable enough for small churches. Download a free Bible lesson in pdf or view our latest Sunday School curriculum for small churches.