Protecting God’s Children

PROTECTING GOD’S CHILDREN
Adopted by the
CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF COLUMBUS. OHIO
ST. CATHARINE CHURCH & SCHOOL
CREATING A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR CHILDREN AND YOUTH

The first step to protecting children from sexual abuse is working to create a safe environment. Key to this is educating parents and adults working with children and youth about what sexual abuse is and who commits it. The Protecting God’s Children program is designed to work with parents and other adults to build a society where children are no longer at risk of being sexually abused, where those who have been victimized can find the resources and courage to heal, and where all people live together in loving, supportive relationships.

The VIRTUS program is a brand name that identifies best practices programs designed to help protect children from child sexual abuse. These programs were created to be used within the religious, or faith community. The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. created the programs. In March 1998, this group invited prominent national experts to discuss whether child sexual abuse could be prevented and, if so, how. The initiative for the VIRTUS programs developed from those discussions and promotes “rightdoing” and preventing or stopping “wrongdoing” in the faith community. The Virtus program is available nationally.
(adapted from: VIRTUS: PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR PARENTS handout 2003 National Catholic Services, and other VIRTUS program handouts)

For the safety of our children, the Diocese of Columbus requires the following attend a Protecting God’s Children Program:

  • All paid diocesan, parish, and school staff and any clergy temporarily assigned to the Columbus Diocese regardless of their level of contact with children and youth.
  • All volunteers 18 years or older in a program or ministry for children and youth regardless of their level of contact with children and youth; e.g.: Catholic school, PSR program, etc.
  • All volunteers 18 years or older in other parish programs or ministries who have been delegated care, custody, or control of children and youth; e.g. choir director, sacristan, etc.

Cost: There is a cost, but it is paid for by the diocese or parish. All workshop materials and handouts are provided by the host parish or school. All you need to bring is a pen.

To register on-line go to www.virtus.org and click on “Registration.” Then click on “Begin the Registration Process.” Your location selection would be “Diocese of Columbus”, and then follow the prompts.
If you are not registering on-line, you should contact the St. Catharine School Office at 614.235.1396, so they can register for you.

Also: On-line registration is required in order to receive a certificate of attendance for church records.

Note: specific locations for classes are not usually given. You may be told the name of the church and the address, but not that the class will be in the Parish Hall across the street, or in the school cafeteria next door. To avoid confusion it is advised you call the parish office where the class is being held to get more specific instruction on where it will actually take place.

Childcare is not provided, and children are not permitted to attend. Anyone arriving
with a child for the class is asked to leave and reschedule attending at a later date.

Other things to know about the class: It is led by a trained facilitator, someone who is local to the area, and it is an interactive format, meaning participant interaction is built into the program.

Criminal Background Checks and Fingerprinting are another requirement of the Safe Environment Program established by the Diocese of Columbus. Again, the Safe Environment Program is designed to protect children in the care, custody or control of any person working on behalf of the Church. It helps prevent those with specific criminal background from gaining access to our children. Examples include: assault, domestic violence, corruption of a minor, sexual crimes, etc.

On March 22, 2001 a law was enacted in Ohio directly affecting religious organizations including Churches, Parish Schools, and Parish Schools of Religion with volunteers who have unsupervised access to children. Activities include, but are not limited to parish youth athletic programs, religious education class teachers, school and parish office aids, youth ministry volunteers, nursery or child care volunteers, youth choir
directors, drivers, and chaperones. By law, each volunteer with unsupervised access to a child on a regular basis must be notified of this law and advised that he/she will be required to provide fingerprints and have a criminal records check undertaken.

Diocese of Columbus Code of Conduct for Parish Volunteers
There is a document that should be shared with you at the Parish level and that is the Diocese of Columbus Code of Conduct for Parish Volunteers. For your convenience, it is now found on the Parish website in the Protecting God’s Children Section. Please read it, and keep in mind the expectations and responsibilities placed on you as a volunteer working with children and young adults within the faith community.

FAQ: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Q: Should I be fingerprinted before I attend the Protecting God’s Children class?
A: It is not necessary to be fingerprinted, and start the background check, before attending a Protecting God’s Children class. Do know that the fingerprinting process is separate and cannot be done at the PGC class.
Q: Who has to be fingerprinted and have a criminal background check ?
A: All paid diocesan, parish, and school staff and any clergy temporarily assigned to the Columbus Diocese regardless of their level of contact with children and youth
All volunteers 18 years or older in a program or ministry for children and youth regardless of their level of contact with children and youth; e.g. Catholic school, PSR program, etc.
All volunteers 18 years or older in other parish programs or ministries who have been delegated care, custody, or control of children and youth; e.g. choir director, Sacristan, etc.
Anyone returning after a significant gap (1-1/2 years in service)
Q: Where do I go to get fingerprinted and register for a background check?
A: Ask at your parish church or school office where to go to be fingerprinted and start the background check procedure. In the past both Our Lady of Peace School, and Watterson High School have provided this service. Calling ahead to schedule your visit is recommended.
Q: Will I need to take anything with me when I go to be fingerprinted and start the background check process?
A: Yes: take the following:

  1. A valid Ohio driver’s license or Ohio photo ID
  2. Name & address of parish so report can be mailed there
  3. Reason: “Responsible for care, custody, control of Children ORC 3319.39”
  4. Money (ask in advance if they accept checks or credit)
Q: Is there a cost for fingerprinting/background checks?
A: While this information is subject to change, currently Background checks cost $22 for BCI and $24 for FBI. WebCheck locations almost always charge processing fees, so it is wise to ask ahead of time for total costs.
Q: Do I need to have both the BCI and the FBI check?
A: BCI Check required if you have lived in Ohio for at least the past 5 consecutive years FBI Check is required if you have lived outside of Ohio any time during the past 5 consecutive years
Q: I took the Boy Scouts of America program; do I still have to attend
a Protecting God’s Children class?
A: Yes
Q: I am not Catholic. Do I have to attend a Protecting God’s Children Class in order to coach?
A: Yes
Q: Do I have to take the class just to be a driver for a school field trip?
A: Yes
Q: I had to be fingerprinted for work can that report be used?
A: No. Our parish and diocese requires a new background check be conducted. The exception is if the background check is less than one year old. If that is the case, request the BCI & FBI send another original report to your parish or school.
Q: What do I do if I suspect that a child is being abused?
A: In case of an emergency, dial 911. In non-emergency situations, call your local public children services agency to make a report about the abuse. In Franklin County the 24 hour Child Abuse Hotline is 614-229-7000. You can also go online to www.pcsao.org/links.htm, then scroll down to County Agency Links and choose your county. From there find the link for
child abuse and neglect. For Franklin County it is www.co.franklin.oh.us/children_services/abuse-neglect/index.cfm.
You can also contact:
Prevent Child Abuse Ohio at 614-722-6800 or 1-800- CHILDREN for information.
Or, contact: Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator
Monsignor Stephan J. Moloney
614-224-2251 or 866-448-0217
help is available@colsdioc.org
Q: I am a victim of sexual abuse. Can the Church help me?
A: If you wish to report an allegation of abuse or need pastoral and/or clinical care in order to begin or continue the process of healing from sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a member of the clergy or a church employee or volunteer, call the diocesan Victims’ Assistance Coordinator, the Rev. Msgr. Stephan J. Moloney, toll-free at 1-866-448-0217 or helpisavailable@colsdioc.org.

I am a victim of sexual abuse and would find it disturbing to attend a Protecting God’s Children class. I still would like to volunteer. What can I do?

The Diocese does work individually with victims. Call the Diocesan Safe Environment Consultant at 614-241-2565 for confidential and individual scheduling.

 

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Where can I get more information?
A: Contact the diocese at 614-241-2565, or go to the Diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry website at http://www.cdeducation.org/oym and click on “Safe Environment;” Protecting God’s Children at http://www.virtus.org/ ; Diocesan Child Protection Policies and Resource Materials at http://www.colsdioc.org click on link Protecting Our Children
St. Catharine Church