Hollidaysburg First United Methodist Church Safe Sanctuaries Policy (Revised April 2015)

INTRODUCTION
The General Conference of the United Methodist Church, in April 1996, adopted a resolution aimed at reducing the risk of child abuse in the church. The adopted resolution calls all churches to welcome the children and also to make our churches safe places for children to grow and learn. It is our responsibility to be proactive in our recruiting and training to find people with a gift for caring for children and also to protect those volunteers. It is also our responsibility to oversee all programs involving children to make sure there is a safe environment and to have a plan of response in place should an incident arise. The General Conference resolution affirmed that every local church shall have in place a policy for protecting children.

PURPOSE
Hollidaysburg First United Methodist Church's purpose for establishing this Child Abuse Prevention Policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate our absolute and unwavering commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all our children and youth.

STATEMENT OF COVENANT
As a Christian community of faith committed to minister to and with children, we pledge to conduct all of our activities and ministries in such a way that assures the safety and spiritual growth of all children and youth entrusted to our care. We will follow reasonable safety measures in the selection and recruitment of workers and we will be responsible in overseeing our programs and events in training our “staff” so that they are able and equipped to minister to children in Jesus' name. We will report and respond to all suspected incidents of abuse as is required by state law and our moral conscience and we will be prepared to minister to the families of both the abused and the perpetrator.

PROCEDURES
We adopt these minimum standards for our ministries with children and youth:
  1. Screening and Recruiting
a. All workers with children and youth will have completed an application listing standard contact information.
  1. All workers will be given orientation training by Children’s Coordinator, Pastor, or Youth
Director and may be interviewed by the pastor, education chair or children's coordinator before they begin serving.
c. Until an active relationship is established for at least six months with Hollidaysburg First United Methodist Church, new volunteers must work with an active and cleared member of the program and will not be permitted to supervise children or youth alone.
d. All workers will be required to complete a PA Request for Criminal Background Check, Child Abuse History Clearance, and either a notarized affidavit stating at least 10 years of residence in Pennsylvania or FBI Criminal History Report (fingerprinting). We will accept copies of original clearances.
e. All personal information shall be kept as a part of an applicant's confidential personnel file. All forms shall be kept in a locked file on the church premises that are only accessible by the Pastors, Children’s Coordinator and Youth Director.
  1. Supervision (defined as being able to see, hear, assess and direct)
a. There will be two (2) unrelated adults in each classroom. If this is not possible, there will be a roving volunteer who moves between the classroom(s) during the program period.
  1. If the age of a volunteer(s) does not meet current Safe Sanctuaries guidelines (at
least five (5) years older than oldest participant and/or sixteen (16) years of age or older) there will be an “extra” adult present in the classroom. For example: A class of nine year old children is being led by a volunteer who is fifteen years old. There will be an adult present at all times during the program or class. A roving volunteer cannot be used. Appropriate ages for volunteers will be at the discretion of church pastors and program coordinators.
c. Each classroom being used for children and youth activities will have a window or the door must be kept open at all times.
d. Training events will be offered for all children/youth volunteers and staff as is deemed necessary by staff and program coordinators. All training seminars will be open to parents/guardians of children participating in Hollidaysburg FUMC events and activities.
e. Parents/guardians will be informed when youth are permitted to leave the church property during church sponsored programs or activities.
f. Registration materials for activities in which children are outside direct supervision of their parents/guardians shall require signed written permission forms that include pertinent health information in order to participate.
g. If the participants are old enough to understand, they shall sign a covenant of participation listing rules for conduct to be observed at activities, including trips and overnights.
h. Participation Records: We will track adult volunteers when attendance is taken at each class or event.
  1. Reporting
a. Upon receiving a report of suspected abuse, immediately call Childline & Abuse Registry at 1-800-932-0313, and notify the Children’s Coordinator, Youth Director, or Pastor. In addition, a written report on CY-47 Form must be made to the county Children and Youth Agency within 48 hours of your oral report to Childline.
b. If the incident happened on church property by church volunteers or staff, they shall be immediately removed from contact with children until the incident reported has been resolved. This will be handled in discreet manner and the accused shall not be banned from other church ministries.
  1. Responding
a. A quick, compassionate and unified response to an alleged incident of child abuse will be initiated. All allegations will be taken seriously and nothing will be concealed.
b. The Media Director of the Central PA Conference or his/her designee, is the only person authorized to make statements to representatives of the media. All requests for statements should be directed to the Senior Pastor.
c. If the allegation is against a staff person or pastor the District Superintendent will be contacted immediately.
d. Pastoral support will be available to all persons involved in the incident as indicated.
  1. Cyber Safety
  1. Do not take photos or videos of children or youth and post them to a personal social media account. Only Program Directors have permission to post photos or videos. Please request a copy of our Cyber Safety policy for more detailed information.
Safe Sanctuary Policy
As guests of the Hollidaysburg First United Methodist Church we must abide by their Safe Sanctuary Policy. The Safe Sanctuary Policy is posted below. In addition, each member is provided with a printed copy of the policy.
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