for the Protection
of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults
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.
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
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.
"Adult" means a person
18 years of age or older.
Abuse" as defined under Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law means
any of the following:
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.
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
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
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."
the purposes of this Policy, this definition includes vulnerable adults.
means any person under the age of 18.
activities" means any activity or program in which children are under supervision
of staff persons or volunteers.
means the Fillmore United Methodist Church
the Central PA Conference of the United Methodist Church.
person" means any person employed by the Fillmore United Methodist Church
or programs using its facilities who is responsible for children's activities.
means a person 18 years of age or older who assists in conducting children's activities
under the supervision of a staff person.
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.
person in charge of a children's activity" means the church employee responsible
for the conduct of this activity.
adult" means any person over 18 years of age with diagnosed diminished physical,
mental or emotional capacities.
means the Fillmore United Methodist Church.
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.
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.
propose these MINIMUM standards:
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:
and qualifications for the position
disclosure of past criminal history and allegations of criminal history
of confidentiality allowing the church to secure the background checks necessary
for the position being applied for
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.
completed PA Child Abuse History Clearance form (CY113 3/95)
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.)
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.
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.
forms and reference reports shall be kept as a part of an applicant's personnel
person in charge of the children's activity(ies) and/or his/her designee is
for reviewing and following up on each application prior to service. All applications
and related forms must be completed.
the event that a reference follow up is accomplished by telephone, detailed notes
of the conversation should also be included in the personnel file.
all church children's activities, we recommend care of records be maintained by
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
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
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.
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.
person shall supervise an age group unless he/she is AT LEAST 5 years older than
the children with whom he/she is working.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
any children's activities, care should be taken to handle this in a discreet manner,
recognizing that an investigation is still being conducted.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
contacted immediately. The Conference Crisis Management Team will
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.
either case, pastoral support will be available to all persons involved with the
incident as indicated