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Kids church registration - forms, families, fun

Hi forums brains trust, 

Situation: At the start of each year we have a registration process for our children's activities. This has previously been paper-based, and very time consuming for all involved.  We've recently switched to elvanto, and I'm looking at setting up our rego process online for the first time.  

What I'm trying to achieve: I want a family to be able to register as many children as they need to, giving me details about each child (name, age, school grade, some consent and health info etc), and about the family (primary contact, spouse contact details, mailing address etc).  I need to be able to track who has registered (by child name).  I want it to be relatively straightforward for an admin to check incoming forms and get the info into relevant fields for children and their family members in the database, and add the children to appropriate groups.  

Note - we don't have elvanto access generally available to church members yet. It's still with staff and a limited number of admin helpers only.  

So, questions:

1. Does anyone else do this kind of thing already and have brilliant insights to share?

2. Forms

a. Is forms the best way to do this kind of process?  Is there an obvious alternative that I've missed?

b. I can set up a form very easily to get me one child's details.  On the same form, can I add all my questions to gather additional children and/or family details or does the form really only cope with one person's details at a time?  

c. No family-related fields (parent / primary contact etc) appear in the 'people fields' list when form building. Is there any way I can do associate a child with their parent(s) via the form or do I just have to get the information then deal with it manually?

d. If you can't have more than one person's details on a form (eg; a single child, or one parent), is there a way to do multi-page forms that a parent could step through to fill in all the details for all the people they need to? (eg; up to 3 or 4 kids and their parents for a single family. I'm trying to avoid having to make the parent fill in the primary contact / spouse / family address details 3 or 4 times).   

e. Related - is there a way to collate all the info that comes in through forms (eg; into a csv file) that can then be manipulated and imported to manage mass updates that the form can't handle itself?  (This would be helpful to know generally, not just in relation to this particular instance of form-wrangling!)

Any thoughts, comments, assistance or examples would be greatly appreciated!  

My thanks in advance.


Hi there Anna!

Happy to help where I can, although I can't really answer your first question. Maybe someone else can.

I can answer your form specific questions however.

a) In your situation, where most users don't yet have access to Elvanto forms would be one of the best ways to do this, however if everyone had access they would be able to update their details, and theif families details at home after logging into their account.

b) Unfortunately the form can only link directly to one member at a time. There are work arounds for this, that I will talk more about later.

c) Again, unfortunately, you are correct. Forms are incredibly limited in what they can do when connecting to users information.

d) I will address in my next point.

e) You can indeed export submissions, and this helps tie everything together from the previous points, b and d. When creating your form, you can use "Form Custom Fields" that are unrelated to people custom fields, and simply allow you to ask customised questions. Using these custom fields you can create a form similar to the one that in the image below, and export the results of form submissions into a CSV file, that can than be imported back into your database, after some manipulation, and used to update any peoples information as needed. Please note that you can always use other fields here, such as one for 'Activities children wish to join' etc, depending on how your system is set up.

Hope this has been helpful,


Hi Stewart, 

Thanks for your helpful response. 

Can you provide more detail on how to export form submission info as a CSV file? 

I have an already operational form in play at the moment with plenty of submissions to play with as an experiment...



.... and I've just read the 'Forms' help page and spotted the large "Export Submissions" button. Disregard that last question then!  As you were...


Hey Anna! 

Sorry about the delayed response, glad to hear that you've found what you're looking for!

Hope this all helps,


Hi Anna

We have used Elvanto for a few years now with regards to a Children registration process.  For us we literally use the self checkin feature as it allows families to register all children with a simple click of a button.  Having said that not all the information you are requesting is available on the checkin page.  I produce a hard copy report that lists all the fields I require - including allergies that can be used by leaders.

We don't do a manual registration process per year. Once we have the details that is the authorisation for us.  Due to the limitations with forms at this point we do manual forms for our new people and then simply add them to the database.  Children rolling over into programs are picked up and captured against the relevant program as defined by our room definitions.

Reading your question again - are you planning on using groups?  If so you will probably find it more difficult to use the checkin feature.  Not sure if this is of any value to you but thought I'd share.


Dreambuilders Church

Hi Kristy,

Thanks for your reply.  It's really helpful to hear how others are using elvanto, especially during this phase where we are learning the various features and finding out what will work for our situation. 

So can I check that I've understood what you do - 

- when children not already in the database arrive to check-in, their parents fill in a manual form to capture all the info you need which is entered into elvanto later

- when children already in the database arrive to check-in, you track what programs they attend by the room they are checking in to

Where does your hard copy report including allergies get used? Is that on hand with leaders each week as a reference / contact sheet in case of emergency? Or are the leaders getting parents to check that information at the check-in point periodically (eg start of year or term etc)?

Thanks again for your willingness to share. 


Hi Anna,

In answer to your 2 questions below...

- when children not already in the database arrive to check-in, their parents fill in a manual form to capture all the info you need which is entered into elvanto later  - YES that is what we do.  Having said that I do like the suggestion Stewart put forward we just don't have enough ipads at this stage to be able to do that.  All our ipads are used for online checkin.

- when children already in the database arrive to check-in, you track what programs they attend by the room they are checking in to - YES we have set up our rooms based on demographics -we have sub demographics for each age group.  Having said that it would be handy to have the ability to define the room by school grade!! (Stewart are you reading?).  For the parents they simply checkin.

With regards to the hard copy report.  We have a person who is responsible for manning the front desk for safety reasons.  The report sits with them and they communicate with respective program leaders should someone checkin who has an allergy or something extra highlighted against their name eg. Custodial requirements.

With regards to updating information a lot of this comes through relationships with families, our Small Groups and on occasions we will do a whole church update as we find that it isn't only children who require data updates and we want to capture the family as a whole.  With regards to updates though - I did create a form similar to the one Stewart has shown above but for whole families and emailed it out to all our families.  It did require some manual intervention as forms don't cater for families but it did allow me to do a mass update with minimal data entry.

Does this help?


I'm reading!

I suppose I can pass that idea along Kristy, there could be reasons for doing this that I can see. 

A possible work around would be having the demographics set to certain school grades, and than have the rooms set to that demographic, but that's a bit of a long winded way of doing it.

Hope this helps,


Great Stewart.

With regards to demographics I actually currently do that but with multiple locations it doesn't work as demographics are standard across all locations yet the individual locations all use separate age splits.

So I either have to choose one location which I have currently done and set them up with room transitions....but that doesn't suit other locations.

If a different solution for multiple locations could be thought of that would be great to.


Hi Kristy, 

Thanks for your further clarification. Very helpful. 

For anyone interested, I've solved my initial problem like this:

- created an elvanto form based on 'child 1' for a family with lots of form custom fields for additional children (child 2 and child 3) and parents / guardians (primary contact, spouse / alternate contact). 

- the form is going up on our church website this weekend. People don't need elvanto access to use it. 

- I'll export the submissions and do some excel wrangling to get the data into the best format to drag back in, aiming to minimise data entry / manual checking required later.* 

* I'm happy that with little effort I'll be able to create an 'update people's name / age / address etc' list to import from the data for each individual I'll get via my forms.  I'm not clear on whether I can preserve the family relationships info, or whether we'll have to go through the list and do all those associations manually.  I'll also have info from my forms that will tell me what groups I want to add children to - not sure if I can do that during the import either. Stewart - I might get some separate assistance from you or the support team with the mechanics of this process.

On the general discussion front - while we're not using check-in or rooms yet, we would face a similar issue to Kristy in that different locations have different age splits for the kids programs.  They're all based around school grades though - if there was an option to define a room by either a demographic or by selecting (one or several) school grades that would be helpful. Again, I haven't played with this at all yet so have no idea how complex that would be to achieve. 


Hi Kristy.  How did your form work and information exporting turn out?  

I am currently trying to create event registration for our Vacation Bible School this summer.  It is our largest outreach of the year and I'd love to streamline the process as much as possible.  Our church uses Elvanto a great deal now and many of our attendees do have access. 

However, our VBS brings many families in our community into our church that are not attendees.

How you found a simplified way to register more than 1 child in the same family?  For example, can a family with 4 children input family information once but individual child information separate? (grade, allergies, etc)

Any help is appreciated.  Thank you.

Hi Danielle

When I did my form update it wasn't ideal but the main data change I was capturing was address updates and I am able to copy this across to all family members.  I still needed to go into the individual record and update but I could for the most part copy the update across family members.  

I am reading VBS this summer.... I'm jealous - we are heading into winter here and my willing of summer to stay isn't working! (totally unrelated).

Here are my thoughts with your VBS registration.

- Create a form specific to the registration (and if you like you can link the form to an event) 

- Forms can go broader than church attendees.  As long as someone has the link they can access the form.

- I always set up my forms to require authorisation so knowing who has submitted a form is easy.  You can also set it up to send a return to the submitter once they are approved.

- I would suggest having a form set for entry per child.  

- To assist those families submitting entries for multiple children, on the form - where you get the "family details" have an instruction something like - "This information needs to be provided once per family.  If you have already provided this information for another child check this box." - and have a checkbox for them to check.

- The only downside is that I am pretty sure you will need to get either an email or phone number per child as they use it as an extra cross check - but I could be wrong there. 

This way - if the children are attached to the church you would probably already have the family information within Elvanto and you would also have the children in the system so all you will really be doing is updating the event related information and if you notice that there has been a change of contact details / address details.  

For children that aren't attached to the church they would newly be created into Elvanto and the manual intervention would be to join family members and update the family information across all children.

That is how my thought process has gone.  Not sure if it helps - and hopefully it makes sense.

Let me know if you have any other questions.