Safe Church Guidelines
Safe Church Guidelines
I. Excerpts from Parish Safe Church Policy
On April 24, 2013, the Vestry of the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin approved our Parish Safe Church Policy. Pertinent sections are excerpted below.
- [The Church of] “St. Mary the Virgin is committed to ensuring a safe environment for worship and learning for our entire parish, particularly for our children under 18. At a minimum, St. Mary’s will ensure all those who work with St. Mary’s children are trained.”
- “There is a well-understood process for screening paid staff and non parishioner volunteers who minister with children, youth, and homebound elders, which includes:
- A written application;
- A personal interview
- Verification of personal references;
- Criminal Records Check
Individual records of these procedures will reside in the office of the Parish Administrator.”
- “All paid employees and any volunteers who ministry includes regular contact with children, youth or homebound elders, will be required to take on-line training.”
- “Keys to church spaces are limited to people who have met all the requirements for screening and training of volunteers who work with children, youth and homebound elders.”
For employees and volunteers working with Youth or Children:
Ministries at St. Mary’s: Nursery, Sunday School, Music, Youth Group
Screening: Any adult employee or volunteer ministering with youth or children on behalf of the church must be screened using the following mechanisms before being offered a position:
1. a written application that includes verifiable personal information;
2. personal interview;
3. screening (reference verification); and
4. signature indicating that they have received a copy of Diocesan “Protection of Youth and Children” policies, including any local procedures or variations
Training: After the application is accepted, the employee or volunteer must complete the online training course, “Protect the Children,” and undergo a background check, both available through shieldthevulnerable.org. (The cost of each is automatically billed to St. Mary’s.) Continued involvement in this ministry is contingent upon the background check. A certificate of completion of online training must be kept in the parish office and training must be renewed every 3 years.
Reminders: There should always be at least two unrelated adults at least two years older than the eldest participant at any gathering of children or youth, and the adult to child/youth ratio should be at least 1:5.
Diocesan Policy on the Protection of Youth and Children: http://www.diocal.org/sites/default/files/media/PDF%20Docs/c2rr_youth_policy.pdf
For employees and volunteers working with Elderly & Dependent Adults
Ministries at St. Mary’s: Lay Eucharistic Visitors, Pastoral Care Team, Stephen Ministry
Any adult employee or volunteer ministering with elderly and dependent adults must sign up at shieldthevulnerable.org and complete the “Protect Vulnerable Adults” course and undergo a background check. (The cost of each is automatically billed to St. Mary’s.)
Continued involvement in this ministry is contingent upon the background check. A certificate of completion of online training must be kept in the parish office and training must be renewed every 3 years. Note: Lay Eucharistic Visitors are also expected to have completed the two required Diocesan training courses offered at Equipping the Beloved Community.
Diocesan Policy on the Protection of Elderly and Dependent Adults:
For questions about the policy, procedures, and training and background checking services, please contact Caren Miles at the Diocese of California: [email protected], 415.869.7815.
All individuals issued a key to St. Mary’s who are not directly involved with ministries among vulnerable populations, including renters and some vendors, must complete these minimum screening requirements:
1. Completion of the online Shield the Vulnerable training; and
2. Criminal background check.
Members (such as members of the Vestry) and staff issued a key to the Church will not be charged for their key. In order to defray costs related to periodically re-keying the building and the cost of frequent background checks, those renting space from us will be charged $50 for their key, even if they only use the key for a single event. A record of key holders will be kept in the Parish office.
II. Mandatory Reporting Guidelines and Procedures
California law requires that certain people, such as clergy, must report to the police any perceived incidents of child abuse, elder abuse, and sexual abuse. Lay ministers at St. Mary’s are not mandatory reporters. However, everyone ministering with a vulnerable demographic must always act to protect God’s people within the spirit of Christ and the requirements and intent of the law.
Therefore, if you witness any abuse or harm, or threat of abuse or harm, to yourself, your care receiver, or others associated with your care receiver, you must bring that situation immediately to the attention of either our ministry leader or the clergy. Do this in a timely manner in order to protect all involved. Contact clergy directly and immediately if the threat is eminent. Failure to do so could allow for serious harm to someone or could have legal consequences.
III. Room Reservations
Our policies and procedures for room rentals can be found on the reservation forms and vendor letter, attached here, and in the below summary.
- Members ministering with vulnerable populations, whether or not they have a key to the building, will be expected to fully comply with Diocesan guidelines
- Members who have a key for an event or other reason not related to ministering with a vulnerable population will be required to complete the online Shield the Vulnerable training and a background check
- Members of the parish requesting the use of space for a Church ministry event will not be charged for their key
- Members will be expected to return their key following a particular event
- Renters who receive a key will be required to complete the online Shield the Vulnerable training and a background check
- Renters must return their key following their event
- Parish administrator will inform renters of the requirements for their use of our space and ensure compliance before a key is issued
- Vendors will be encouraged to enter the building at times when staff can allow them access, thus eliminating the need for a key to be issued