Safe Environments

The policy for Safe Environments and the Protection of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults acknowledges the need to provide safe pastoral environments and protect those most vulnerable in our parish communities.

It establishes best practices not only to protect those to whom we minister, especially children, youth and vulnerable adults, but also to ensure the integrity, safety and reputation of those who minister, namely, clergy, religious, staff and church volunteers, and the ministries they provide.

Together, we can better promote wholeness, accountability, trust and care within the Church by fulfilling our spiritual, ethical, moral, and legal responsibilities.

Responsible Ministry

Overview
→ What is abuse?
→ Glossary and Further Reading
 

Screening and Training

→ For Volunteers and Parishes
→ For Clergy and Consecrated Persons
For Lay Employees and the Eparchy

Reporting and Responding to Abuse

→ Report Abuse
→ What happens when abuse is reported?
→ Care and Healing

Screening and Training

Volunteer and Employee Screening

All parish and eparchial individuals providing ministry, including all clergy, religious, seminarians, laity, employees and volunteers, will undergo Volunteer and Employee Screening according to eparchial procedures to determine their suitability for ministry and/or employment.  This is to ensure current and new volunteers and employees meet set standards and to ensure that ministries, programs and activities are managed in a safe and professional way. 

Screening checks (PIC and VSC) include information that is available to police services at the time the check is being processed. There is no guarantee that the information will still be accurate and complete within a few months, weeks, or even days. For this reason, applicants may be asked to repeat the process when seeking new positions or when seeking a move to existing positions that they do not currently hold.

Safe Environment Training

All parish and eparchial individuals providing ministry, including all clergy, religious, seminarians, laity, employees and volunteers, will undergo Safe Environment Training as required by their ministry and/or employment. 

Safe Environment Training teaches us how to identify abuse, not only in our Church, but also in our families and communities, and sets standards of appropriate behaviour within the Church so that inappropriate behaviour is easily noticeable and can be addressed immediately.  It also teaches us when and how to report abuse to church and civil authorities.

Requirements

For Volunteers

The Eparchy of Edmonton recognizes the great value of all its volunteers.  In the context of providing a safe church environment for all, it is necessary to have certain policies in place, not only to determine the suitability of the volunteer for ministry, but also to equip that volunteer with the appropriate training to work with vulnerable persons and to raise awareness of abuse prevention within the Church and beyond.

There are two types of ministries within the Church: general risk and high risk.  It is the nature of the ministry and the inherent risk factor for abuse that determine the procedures required for screening, not the character of the volunteer.  For example, a volunteer who is alone with a vulnerable person necessitates a more thorough screening procedure than a volunteer who participates in a group setting.

General Risk Ministry

Examples

Altar Server, Baptismal Preparation Team, Bible Study Coordinator, Choir Director, Family Life Committee Coordinator, Hospitality Coordinator, Greeter/Usher, Marriage Preparation Facilitator, Prayer Group Coordinator, URCIA Catechumenal Director/Sponsor, etc.

Requirements

                        Interview

                        Volunteer/Employee Information Form (Adults)

                        Volunteer/Employee Information Form (Minors)

                        Covenant of Care

                        Code of Pastoral Conduct

                        Electronic Communication and Technology Policy

                        Safe Environment Training (recommended)

High-Risk Ministry

Examples

Altar Server Coordinator, Bereavement Team Member, Children’s Catechist, Children’s Initiation Team, Children’s Choir Director, Collection Counting Team, Custodian/Building Maintenance Person, Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, Keyholder, Lay Pastoral Visitor, Lector, Parish Pastoral Council Member (including Finance Council member), Parish Volunteer Screening Coordinator and Committee Member, Sacramental Preparation Team Member, Sunday School Coordinator/Teacher, Youth Director/Minister, etc.

Requirements

                        Interview

                        References

                        Volunteer/Employee Information Form (Adults)

                        Volunteer/Employee Information Form (Minors)

                        Police Information Check and Vulnerable Sector Check or Annual Attestation/Offence Declaration

                        Safe Environment Training (required)

                        Covenant of Care

                        Code of Pastoral Conduct

                        Electronic Communication and Technology Policy   

For Parishes

Every parish must commit to the implementation of all Safe Environment Policies within their parish and all of its particular ministries, including:

a) Volunteer Screening Coordinator

Each parish must appoint a Volunteer Screening Coordinator to assist the pastor and pastoral council in implementing all Safe Environment Policies, including the screening and training of volunteers and staff as required in their particular parish, as well as the maintenance of all records and the tracking of all screening and training requirements for all parish employees and volunteers.

 

b) Identify Ministry Positions

Each parish must identify and put into writing all employee and volunteer ministerial positions which are required for the day to day activity of the parish.

i) Doing so sends the message that the Eparchy of Edmonton is serious about screening.

ii) This clearly states responsibilities and expectations

iii)  The screening procedure may change according to the risk assessment when a volunteer changes position

 

c) Determine the Risk

The nature of the ministry and the inherent risk factor for abuse dictate the need for screening, not the character of the volunteer.  (For example, a volunteer who is alone with a vulnerable person necessitates a more thorough screening procedure than a volunteer who participates in a group setting.)

 

Parish and ministry leaders must examine the potential for abuse in programs or ministries to help prevent or eliminate the risk of abuse by assessing the following:

i) Vulnerability of those served

ii) Nature of the service or position

iii)  Context of the service or position

iv) Degree of supervision given or received

 

General Risk Ministry (altar server, choir member, cantor, greeter, etc.)

Those involved in general risk ministry:

i) do not require close contact with minors or vulnerable adults

ii) are supervised directly or indirectly

iii)  perform duties in a strictly public setting

iv) are not involved with parish or eparchial finances

 

High-Risk Ministry (priest, youth leader, treasurer, custodian, parish secretary, Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, keyholder, catechist, etc.)

Those involved in high risk ministry:

i) work with minors or vulnerable adults

ii) work in an unsupervised setting where ministry, food, transportation or other necessities could be provided to minors and/or vulnerable adults

iii)  have access to confidential information

iv) are entrusted with money, or parish and eparchial finances

v) are keyholders and have access to church property

 

d)  Recruit Openly

i) Any requests for volunteers/employees should be done publicly.

ii) Parishes must publicly state that screening is part of the recruitment process and that all applicants are carefully screened.

 

e)  Conduct Interviews and Obtain References

i) The pastor and or/parish ministry leader must interview all volunteers and employees about their background, skills, interests, and availability to determine their suitability for ministry in the parish.

ii) All interview notes are to be securely kept with the candidate’s other HR

iii)  Parishes must obtain three references for all high-risk ministry volunteers and parish employees by completing the References List/PIC Form.

iv) The pastor and/or parish ministry leader must interview references by using the Reference Check Questionnaire.  The Reference Check Questionnaire may be completed in written form by the reference themselves or by the interviewer in conversation with the person giving the reference.

 

f) Police Information Checks and Vulnerable Sector Information Checks

i) Parishes must obtain a Police Information Check (PIC) from all high risk ministry volunteers and all parish employees to determine if they have a   criminal record that would exclude them from serving in the ministry for which they are being considered.

ii) Parishes must obtain a Vulnerable Sector Police Information Check (VSC) from all volunteers and employees in high risk ministry who hold a position of trust or authority over minors and vulnerable persons.

iii)  Volunteers and employees who have indirect involvement or contact with children or vulnerable persons but with sufficient regularity that a relationship of trust might develop must obtain a VSC in addition to the PIC.  For example: a camp cook or camp caretaker are not directly responsible for children at camp, however, they have access to children on an ongoing basis because of the nature of their work at the camp.

iv) If the PIC has identified a criminal conviction, the pastor must speak with the Eparchial Safe Environment Coordinator to determine if the conviction prevents that individual from participation in the ministry for which they are applying.

v) The parish must ensure that all PICs, including VSCs if applicable, are renewed every four years.

vi) The parish may only accept an original PIC/VSC with the police agency   A photocopy will not be accepted.

vii) The PIC/VSC must be obtained specifically for that individual’s employment or ministry within the parish or Eparchy.  A PIC/VSC obtained at the request of another organization will not be accepted.

viii) Only the pastor may see an individual’s PIC/VSC.  Once it is reviewed, the pastor must place it in a sealed envelope and store it in the individual’s HR file.

ix) A PIC/VSC obtained for one parish or ministry within the Eparchy is transferrable to another parish or ministry within the Eparchy, as long as the nature of the ministry is the same and the vulnerable sector served is the same.

x) Someone who moves from general risk to high risk ministry or employment must provide a PIC, and VSC if working with the vulnerable sector, for their new ministry position.

xi) Payment for the PIC is the responsibility of the eparchial office, parish, camp or other organization requesting the PIC.

 

g) Annual Attestation

i) The parish will ensure that all high risk ministry volunteers and all parish employees sign an Annual Attestation, confirming that the clear status of their PIC/VSC has not changed since the time when their clear PIC was last issued.

ii) The parish will ensure the completion of Annual Attestations by all employees and volunteers each September until a new PIC/VSC is required at the end of the fourth year of employment or ministry.

iii)  Annual Attestations are to be stored with the individual’s HR file.

 

h) Covenant of Care

i) Parishes will ensure that all volunteers and employees read and sign a Covenant of Care, thereby committing themselves to follow all eparchial safe environment policies, including the Eparchy of Edmonton’s Code of Conduct and the Electronic Communication and Technology Policy.

 

i)   Record Keeping

i) Parishes will ensure that all volunteers and employees complete a Volunteer/Employee Information Form.

  • Volunteer/Employee Information Forms are to be kept in the individual’s human resources (HR) file.
  • The front page of Volunteer/Employee Information Forms, with the emergency contact information, may be copied and stored in an area that is not public yet is easily accessible in the event of an emergency (for example, in a binder labelled “Emergency Contacts” in the parish office, hall office or sacristy).

ii) All human resources information and documentation pertaining to each employee or volunteer is private.

  • Parishes must files all HR documentation, including the Volunteer Information Form, References List/PIC Form, Reference Check Questionnaire, PIC, VSC, Annual Attestations, and all other relevant documents according to each individual employee or volunteer and must kept them in a locked cabinet at the parish office. If there is no parish office, these documents are to be held in the pastor’s private office.  These documents are not to be held in a parishioner’s home.
  • Only the pastor and the parish volunteer screening coordinator are to have access to the HR files.

 

j) Conduct Orientation and Training
i) The parish and/or ministry must provide clear information about the volunteer/employment position, including specific tasks and procedures, as well as specific guidelines for working in high risk ministries.

ii) A predetermined probationary period should be established.

iii)  Parishes must ensure that volunteers read and sign the back of the Volunteer/Employee Information Form, thus acknowledging the parameters of the volunteer/employment position.

 

k) Safe Environment Training

i) All parish and eparchial employees and all high risk ministry volunteers, as well as those in a leadership position, are required to complete the Eparchy of Edmonton’s Safe Environment Training.

ii) A record of those who have completed their training is held at the Pastoral Centre.

iii) Those who complete the Safe Environment Training will receive a certificate of completion.

iv) A copy Safe Environment Training Certificate is to be included in the individual’s HR file.

 

l)   Supervise and Evaluate

i) Parishes must provide appropriate support and supervision for all volunteers and employees.

ii) Parishes must offer volunteers and employees the opportunity to give and receive feedback.

iii)  The parish should use the Self-Review for Parish Ministers/Volunteers to help assess the effectiveness of their volunteers and employees.

 

m) Follow up with ministry participants

i) Parishes must proactively seek feedback from program participants and parishioners to monitor the suitability of the volunteer and/or employee and the quality of the program or services offered.

ii) The parish must advise volunteers and employees that regular contact with program participants is an essential part of eparchial risk management procedures.

iii) The parish must advise all volunteers, employees and participants of where to call with questions or concerns.

iv) The parish should use the Participant Follow-Up Report to assess the effectiveness and suitability of employees and volunteers in their particular ministry positions where applicable.

For Clergy and Consecrated Persons

Notwithstanding requirements for ordination and/or acceptance into a religious order, all clergy and consecrated persons must complete the following requirements in order to minister in the Eparchy of Edmonton:

              Police Information Check and Vulnerable Sector Check or Annual Attestation

              Safe Environment Training

              Covenant of Care

              Code of Pastoral Conduct

              Electronic Communication and Technology Policy

              Code of Ethics and Accountability

For Lay Employees

Notwithstanding any required skills and qualifications for employment, all lay employees of any parish or the Eparchy must complete the following in order to minister in any capacity in the Eparchy of Edmonton, as all employees are considered to be in high-risk ministries:

              Interview

              References

              Volunteer/Employee Information Form (Adults)         

              Volunteer/Employee Information Form (Minors)         

              Police Information Check and Vulnerable Sector Check or Annual Attestation

              Safe Environments Training

              Covenant of Care

              Code of Pastoral Conduct

              Electronic Communications and Technology Policy

              Code of Ethics and Accountability

For the Eparchy

The Eparchy of Edmonton has a responsibility to establish and manage its Safe Environment Policy within all ministries and parishes.

a) Develop and maintain an eparchial Safe Environment Policy

      The Eparchy of Edmonton must review and update its Safe Environment policy every five years, and make any appropriate changes as required.

b) Safe Environment Advisory Committee

      The Eparchy of Edmonton must establish a Safe Environment Advisory Committee to assist with the establishment and review of its policies and procedures and to advise the bishop on any allegations of abuse within the Church made known to the Eparchy.

c) Eparchial Safe Environment Coordinator

      The Eparchy of Edmonton is to appoint an Eparchial Safe Environment Coordinator to assist in the implementation of all Safe Environment Policies throughout the Eparchy.

d) Screening of Clergy and Eparchial Employees

      The Eparchy will ensure that all of its clergy and employees ministering in the Eparchy are properly screened.

e) Safe Environment Training

      The Eparchy will facilitate Safe Environment Training for all clergy, volunteers and employees who require it.

f) Victim’s Care Committee

      The Eparchy of Edmonton will establish a Victim’s Care Committee to support all those affected by abuse in the Church.