Protecting Children and Vulnerable Adults

The Church of St. Thomas the Apostle has a long and dedicated history of providing a variety of ministries and programs to meet the many needs of the parish community. The value of parish programs has also included the unwavering expectation that these ministries take place in a safe and healthy environment grounded in respect for the dignity of all persons participating.

The parish has in place updated policies and procedures regarding persons with particular responsibilities for program leadership. As part of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, all adult volunteer ministers who have regular or unsupervised contact with minors must complete three requirements:

  1. Undergo a Background Check - this is conducted by the McDowell Agency and must be done EVERY THREE YEARS. No one may work with children and/or vulnerable adults in parish organized ministries unless they have passed a parish-paid background check.
  2. Attend a VIRTUS Safe Environment Training - sessions are ongoing and scheduled throughout the Archdiocese.
  3. Sign a Code of Conduct - this states standards of behavior and appropriate boundaries for volunteers and must be signed EVERY YEAR.

Ministers younger than 18 who work with children must sign a Code of Conduct and provide at least 2 written statements from trustworthy adults attesting to their character and dependability for their ministry position. Attending a VIRTUS session is recommended but not required.

Additional guidelines:

  • All ministers working in organized parish ministries with children and vulnerable adults must be registered members of the parish and participate in appropriate training provided by the parish for their ministry.
  • Staff should be notified immediately if there are any questions or concerns about these guidelines and/or about any situation involving the inappropriate treatment of children or vulnerable adults.
  • Parents of children participating in parish ministry offerings are always welcome to be present at any session. However, they may only assist their own children and may not volunteer unless they have completed a background check.
  • These guidelines will be reviewed on at least an annual basis.

The parish has no knowledge of a situation where a child or vulnerable adult has been abused or exploited by a paid staff person or volunteer working under a parish program. Should such knowledge surface, the parish will fully comply with reporting expectations of both civil and archdiocesan authorities. Accordingly, these parish guidelines reflect the most current recommendations and suggestions from the Archdiocese and from the McDowell Agency, an independent agency working as a consultant to parishes. More details are available from the parish office.

Reviewed June 2014

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