Safeguarding God’s Children

Diocesan Policies for the
Protection of Children and Youth

What is Safeguarding God’s Children?

Safeguarding God’s Children is a three-hour training program for the prevention of sexual abuse of children and youth. The program provides participants with information they need to protect the children they know and care for in their personal lives and in the ministries in which they serve.

Jesus Christ calls us to loving relationships that are healthy and helpful to each other. In our ministry with children and youth, every child, youth and adult, deserves to be treated as Jesus would treat them, that is, with love, respect, and kindness. We are to seek God’s purposes for one another and not our own selfish ends.

All participants in ministry to children and youth deserve to be in a safe environment, including, but not limited to, an environment that is free from harassment, abuse, and misconduct. Our Diocesan Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth from Abuse are meant to help provide such an environment.

Diocesan Requirements

The Diocese of Central PA requires all who are employed by the congregation, all who serve on vestry, all who work in children and youth ministry, all who volunteer with children and youth, and those who have keys to any of the church grounds to take this training from a diocesan-certified trainer. Diocesan certificates will be issued upon completion of the course. In addition, every Episcopal congregation is required to adopt Safeguarding God’s Children model policies.

Individuals must renew their Safeguarding certification every three years. Saint James offers the three-hour training onsite approximately once per quarter, alternating between weekday business hours and Sunday afternoons.

Who Needs the Training?

  • All clergy whether stipendiary, non-stipendiary, or otherwise who are engaged in ministry or service to the church
  • All paid personnel, whether employed in areas of children and youth ministry or other kinds of services by the diocese, its congregations, schools or other agencies
  • Those who contract their services to the diocese, its congregations, schools or other agencies
  • Volunteers, including any person who enters into or offers himself or herself for a church related service to and with children and youth (18 and under) or who actually assists with or performs a service with the children and/or youth of the congregation or is part of any function that is under the auspices the Diocese of Central PA and/or each congregation, whether or not they have been selected or assigned to do so
  • All church school teachers
  • All persons who supervise or assist with supervising children or youth in ministries, programs or activities infrequently, generally no more than three times a year or for one program or activity during a year that lasts less than a month (i.e. assisting with preparation for the Christmas pageant, or teaching one “unit” of Church School for a month)
  • All persons who provide transportation to children or youth (transportation with parent permission still requires Safeguarding God’s Children training)
  • All persons who work or assist in the nursery, whether on an emergency basis or otherwise
  • All vestry members or other members of similar decision-making groups who have the authority to approve the creation of ministries, programs or activities for children or youth. (They are invited to take the one hour training session)
  • Anyone who has a key to the church grounds and buildings.

State Requirements

• PA Child Abuse History Clearance application may be submitted electronically at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS. You will create a new account in the Child Welfare Portal in order to submit your application. There is no fee for volunteers. You will receive an email notification with your results within 14 days.
• PA Criminal History Report application may be submitted electronically at https://epatch.state.pa.us. There is no fee for volunteers. This gives an automatic reply as long as there is no criminal history. Once you receive the report, please print out the official copy (certificate form) and submit to Rev. Lauren Schoeck. Please note that you must print and save the certification form once you have clicked on it. Once viewed, you will have no further access to the document.
• FBI fingerprint background check is required only for individuals who have not lived continuously in Pennsylvania for 10 years. You may submit your registration for this electronically at https://www.pa.cogentid.com. Choose Pennsylvania Department of Education for the correct background check. The fee is payable by credit card when filed electronically. The unique identification number (PAE #) will need to be submitted to Rev. Lauren Schoeck in order for us to access the clearance on the COGENT website. The unofficial paper copy of your results will be mailed to you. Please submit a copy to Rev. Lauren Schoeck.