David Walker
Pastor

Address: 126 Apple Street
Bellefonte, PA 16823
Phone: 814-355-2208
Email: dawalker@Pennswood.net

Directions:
  • Fillmore UMC -
    2622 Buffalo Run Road, Bellefonte, PA 16823
  • Fillmore UMC located at the intersection of Route 550 and Fillmore Road. See Map

Contact the Pastor

 




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Preamble
Definitions
Screening Procedures
Supervision
Reporting
Response Plan
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Web page Editor: Peg Shuffstall - pshuffy@psu.edu

Welcome to the
Fillmore United Methodist Church

 

Policy for the Protection
of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults

Preamble

Definitions

 

PREAMBLE:

When the crowd tried to keep the children away from Jesus, He was quick to respond, "Let the children come to me." Jesus taught that children were to be included and provided for within the community of faith. Today, the church may be the only place where some children find the unconditional love and care they so desperately need to grow and thrive. As Christians, we must take our responsibilities to our children very seriously. We fail in our responsibilities if we neglect to take adequate precautions against abuse in our churches. It is unlikely that we can completely prevent child abuse in every situation, but it is possible for us to greatly reduce the risk by following a thorough practical policy of prevention. This policy attempts to do just that for the Fillmore UMC ministries that deal with children, youth and vulnerable adults. It is based on our understanding of the widespread problem of abuse throughout our country.

Every 15 seconds a child is abused or neglected. Often abuse occurs in settings where children, youth, or vulnerable adults should have been able to feel safe-homes, schools, camps, and most sadly the church. In more than three-quarters of the reported incidents of child abuse, the victim was related to or acquainted with the abuser.

It is the purpose of this policy to first of all protect the children who come to us, the second is to protect our staff both paid and volunteer from potential allegations of abuse and third to limit the extent of legal liability of our church.

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DEFINITIONS:

"Adult" means a person 18 years of age or older.

"Child Abuse" as defined under Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law means any of the following:

"(i) Any recent act or failure to act by a perpetrator which causes non-accidental
serious physical injury to a child under 18 years of age.

(ii) An act or failure to act by a perpetrator which causes non-accidental serious mental injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of age.

(iii) Any recent act, failure to act or series of acts or failures to act by a perpetrator which creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of age.

(iv) serious physical neglect by a perpetrator constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide essentials of life, including adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or development or impairs the child's functioning.


No child shall be deemed to be physically or mentally abused based on injuries that result solely from environmental factors that are beyond the control of the parent or person responsible for the child's welfare, such as inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical care."

For the purposes of this Policy, this definition includes vulnerable adults.

"Child" means any person under the age of 18.

"Children's activities" means any activity or program in which children are under supervision of staff persons or volunteers.

"Church" means the Fillmore United Methodist Church
.
"Conference" means the Central PA Conference of the United Methodist Church.

"Staff person" means any person employed by the Fillmore United Methodist Church or programs using its facilities who is responsible for children's activities.

"Volunteer" means a person 18 years of age or older who assists in conducting children's activities under the supervision of a staff person.

"Persons required to report child abuse" means persons, who, in the course of their employment, occupation, or practice of their profession, come into contact with children. Such persons include, but are not limited to, medical professionals; school administrators, teachers and nurses; social services workers; day-care center workers; mental health professionals; peace and law enforcement officers.

"Staff person in charge of a children's activity" means the church employee responsible for the conduct of this activity.

"Vulnerable adult" means any person over 18 years of age with diagnosed diminished physical, mental or emotional capacities.

"We" means the Fillmore United Methodist Church.

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SCREENING PROCEDURES:

Careful screening is one way to prevent the abuse of children and vulnerable adults. It can be time consuming and expensive, but well worth the effort in peace of mind that the most reliable, committed and experienced staff and volunteers are in place for every program that involves children and vulnerable adults.

The Central PA Conference of the United Methodist Church is also encouraging the networking of Conference agencies and local churches because staff persons and volunteers may serve in a variety of places and roles.

We propose these MINIMUM standards:

All adults, volunteer or staff persons, who have regular and direct contact with children and vulnerable adults shall be required to fill out an application that includes:

  1. standard contact information
  2. experience and qualifications for the position
  3. voluntary disclosure of past criminal history and allegations of criminal history
  4. waiver of confidentiality allowing the church to secure the background checks necessary for the position being applied for
  5. listing of 3 non-related references. This list shall have complete contact information for all references. This portion of the application process is considered incomplete if full contact information for the references is not provided.
  6. a completed PA Child Abuse History Clearance form (CY113 3/95)
  7. a completed PA Request for Criminal Record Check (SP 4-641/97) (If the applicant has not been a resident of PA for the last 5 years, he/she will be required to complete an FBI national check.)
  8. demonstration of an active relationship with this church of at least six months before being allowed to be in a supervisory role in children's activities.


During the first year of this Policy's implementation, staff persons and volunteers will submit to the screening procedures prescribed by this Policy. Following the first year of this Policy's implementation, all new applicants, persons who have a break in service of one or more years and those with 5 or more years since their last background check shall submit to the screening procedures.

All forms and reference reports shall be kept as a part of an applicant's personnel file.

The staff person in charge of the children's activity(ies) and/or his/her designee is
responsible for reviewing and following up on each application prior to service. All applications and related forms must be completed.

In the event that a reference follow up is accomplished by telephone, detailed notes of the conversation should also be included in the personnel file.

For all church children's activities, we recommend care of records be maintained by the Pastor.

When the church is hosting an event for which chaperones are required, we recommend that all brochures and other written material contain language specifying these procedures as MINIMUM BASIC GUIDELINES for all adults serving as chaperones at the event.

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SUPERVISION:

The second step for providing a holy place of safety for children, youth, and vulnerable adults is conscientious and intentional supervision. These procedures are designed to reduce the possibility of abuse to the children or vulnerable adults and to protect staff persons and volunteers from unwarranted accusations. Again, these are MINIMUM standards and each children's activity may adopt more stringent requirements as necessary.

  1. Training is a requirement for all staff persons and volunteers working with children in church children's activities. The minimum training would be an annual orientation that includes information regarding this Policy, procedures for supervision, as well as information on how to identify and report child abuse.
  2. Minimum supervisory standards will include the "two-adult rule." The two-adult rule requires that no matter the size of the group, there will always be two unrelated, adults present. This may include the presence of an adult "roamer" who moves in and out of rooms.
  3. No person shall supervise an age group unless he/she is AT LEAST 5 years older than the children with whom he/she is working.
  4. Each room or space where children are being cared for shall have a window in the door or the door shall be left open. All activities should occur in open view. Should the children's activity be an outdoor program or occur in a setting which makes it difficult to comply with this Policy, the staff person in charge of the activity shall take appropriate measures to make sure that the setting suits the activity, and the children are properly supervised.
  5. Registration materials for activities in which children are outside of the direct supervision of their parents/guardians shall require signed written permission forms that include pertinent health information in order to participate.
  6. All participants who can understand a covenant shall sign a participation covenant. In a situation that has continuous care, this covenant can be in the form of clear, posted rules that are explained to the participants at the outset of the program.

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REPORTING:

Once an incident of child abuse occurs or allegation of an incident is made, it is crucial that it be dealt with speedily and in a clearly outlined manner. The staff person or volunteer who observes alleged abuse or to whom such alleged abuse is reported shall report the incident immediately to the staff person in charge of the children's activity. The staff person in charge of the children's activity in which the alleged abuse was observed or disclosed shall obtain information necessary such as the name of the alleged victim and his or her address and family information

Upon receiving such information, the staff person in charge of the children's activity will call the Pennsylvania Childline & Abuse Registry to make a report. The staff person in charge of the children's activity shall then send the completed PA CY47 form to the local Children and Youth Services agency. This line of reporting shall be followed in all such incidents.

Persons who are the objects of the report will be required to refrain from all Childcare activities until the incident report is resolved. In any removal of a person
from any children's activities, care should be taken to handle this in a discreet manner, recognizing that an investigation is still being conducted.

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RESPONSE PLAN:

A quick, compassionate and unified response to an alleged incident of child abuse is expected. All allegations will be taken seriously. In all cases of reported or observed abuse in a children's activity, the entire staff of that activity shall be at the service of all official investigating agencies.

The Pastor, or his/her designee, is the only person/s authorized to make statements to representatives of the media. All requests for statements should be directed to the Pastor. Training in how to handle media requests should be a regular part of church staff training. A spirit of cooperation in helping the media find the "official spokesperson" is often helpful.

If the allegation concerns activities or persons outside any relationship to a church
related event or activity, it is the responsibility of the staff person in charge of the church activity to make the initial contact with the Childline and Abuse Registry.

An example would be a youth telling a Pastor about abuse by a relative. If this report were made to the Pastor in the course of his or her duties in church ministries, then an incident report should be filed with the supervising church staff person within 24 hours.

If the allegation is against a church staff person or volunteer or if it occurred in the course of a church children's activity, the staff person in charge of the children's activity and the church's and the Conference's Crisis Management Teams shall be
contacted immediately. The Conference Crisis Management Team will advise the
Conference's insurance carrier. The staff person in charge of the children's activity will contact the child's guardian(s) immediately. An in-person meeting with the
guardian(s) will be arranged as soon as practical.

In either case, pastoral support will be available to all persons involved with the incident as indicated

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