Diocesan Code of Conduct

Screening

For a safe and healthy environment

Policy

 

It is the intent of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hearst-Moosonee to ensure that, as a faith community, we fulfil our obligations to those we serve, especially our children and the vulnerable, and to ensure the integrity, safety and reputation of our employees and volunteers.

 

Understanding of terms

 

Child: A person that is of less than 7 years old completed.

Environment: Circumstances and surroundings of the place where the service is taking place are an essential component in order to ensure and safe and healthy environment.

Ministry or situation of service: A situation where vulnerable persons are present with a number of adults in a public setting.

Ministry or situation of trust: A situation where vulnerable persons are involved or at least present under the supervision of one or more adults in a private or semi-private environment.

Perception of Authority: Perception of authority by the person offering a service and the degree of dependence of the person receiving that service are determining factors in the designation of those categories. The environment is another factor as well as the frequency of meetings and the intimacy that develops from those meetings.

SBC: Sterling background check. A firm recommended by the Diocesan Insurance policy and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.

Screening: An established process, suitable and equitable that helps to create a safe and healthy environment for the people at the service of parishes and/or the Diocese of Hearst-Moosonee, both the employees and volunteers and the those receiving those services.

Supervision: This is an essential component of a safe and healthy environment.

Vulnerable person:  A person is considered vulnerable when he/she cannot, under normal circumstances, protect themselves from harm, temporarily or permanently, wither physical, verbal, emotional or psychological. This situation could be caused by age, physical or psychological or other disability. This situation could either be permanent or temporary. (2) An individual that is in a state of infirmity, physical or psychological deficiency, or deprived of personal freedom which limits his/her capacity to understand and/or comprehend the situation and therefore cannot resist the aggression.

Youth: An individual between the age of 7 years completed and 19 years completed.

 

 

The Policy

A. General Protocol

All employees and volunteers, who are hired, appointed, named, called or mandated to serve the faithful of a Parish or of the Diocese of Hearst-Moosonee must complete the “Candidate Information Form”. The Parish or Chancery office is responsible for providing this form with a “Description of service”, also known as a “Job description”. It is our policy, that every person whether an employee or a volunteer must receive appropriate orientation and training. Ongoing supervision and evaluation is required in all parishes.

B. Protocol for different ministries and/or services

The Diocese of Hearst-Moosonee, in keeping with our commitment to create a healthy and safe environment for all the faithful and to ensure that we do not impede upon the aspiration of those who wish to serve, has established two groups of volunteers. Employees are automatically members of the second group.

  1. Service Volunteers

In this category are the volunteers whose services do not call them to:

  • participate in activities dealing specifically with children, youth and those who are vulnerable; and/or
  • one on one situations such as interviews and home visitation; and/or
  • situations involving continued handling of parish or diocesan funds; and/or
  • any other situation designated by the pastor and the parish screening team as a second grouping.

2. Trust Services

This category is for all Ministry or services in which the employee and volunteer is called to:

  • participate in activities dealing specifically with children, youth and those who are vulnerable; and/or
  • one on one situations such as interviews and home visitation; and/or
  • situations involving continued handling of parish or diocesan funds; and/or
  • any other position, function or situation designated by the pastor and the parish screening team as being in this classification; and/or
  • situation where confidentiality is of the utmost importance.

All persons who are hired, appointed, called, named or mandated to serve the faithful within the Diocese of Hearst-Moosonee and whose position has been designated in “Trust Services” are to be evaluated and supervised using the following ten steps.

C. The ten steps of the screening process

1. Description of Service

A written description of each service, function or position is to be created and maintained (job description for each position; i.e. lector; leader of children’s liturgy, usher; etc…).  A service description of every parish position must be written and available in every parish. This description must define the tasks of the service, establish the ground rules for those involved and set clear and appropriate guidelines.

2. Determine the Group

As a matter of policy, all services are to be examined to establish the proper classification. Relevant information such as the participant, the relationship, the setting, and the level of supervision is required (see “Terms definition”).

3. Recruitment Process

Whether requests for volunteers or employees are done publicly, through notices printed in parish bulletins, church newsletters, announcements or other forms of public communication or through a personal invitation, a “Description of Service” is to be available. A “Candidate Information Form” is to be completed. A basic information record for those who serve as employees or as volunteers is to be kept at the parish level. Employment or volunteer information is absolutely essential.

4. Candidate Information Form

Completion of an information form ensures that adequate records are kept. The form should include name, address, previous experience, and give permission to conduct reference checks, as may be necessary. All persons who wish to work or volunteer in a Parish or at the Diocesan Level must sign an acknowledgment form stating that they have read the diocesan “Code of Conduct”, understand it and will comply with it.

5. Interview

Interviews are to be carried out by at least two interviewers for all persons in “Trust service”. The interview is to address questions about a candidate’s background, gifts, talents, skills, interests, and availability. Concerns about the suitability of a candidate for the service in question are to be addressed. Notes from the interview are to be placed in the confidential parish volunteer/employee file along with the information form and the service description.

6. Reference Checks

Reference checks are recommended for those in the “Trust Services”. References should not be family members.  References will be asked questions regarding the background, gifts, talents and skills of the person wishing to serve our community. They will provide another opinion concerning the suitability of the person for the service to be offered. It is to be made clear to those providing references that the individual is being considered for a position of trust: i.e. with children, with other vulnerable people, with money, etc. Reference check results are to be documented and kept in the candidate’s file.

7. Background checks

Background checks are necessary for all persons in “Trust Service”. The Diocese of Hearst-Moosonee requires that such a background check be completed through the Sterling group.

8. Orientation and Training

Appropriate orientation including guidelines for working as a volunteer or employee is to be provided. Individuals will also be required to sign the form indicating that they have attended the required training/orientation.

9. Supervision and Evaluation

The nature of supervision will vary according to the position held. In the case of “Trust Services”, supervision and evaluation are to be recorded. A written record of the evaluation is to be kept on file and shared with the volunteer or employee.  Evaluations are to occur at least once a year.  The frequency and type of appraisal would vary according to the service offered and at the discretion of the pastor and the parish screening team. If a volunteer or employee is alone with program participants, it is appropriate to conduct random visits.

10. Participant Feedback

Regular and ongoing contact with the faithful who take part in an activity, ministry or program ensures that Parish or Diocesan programs remain relevant and of high quality. It is vital that program coordinators inform those involved in an activity, ministry or program that regular supervision and evaluation are conducted as part of our desire to maintain a healthy and safe environment.

D. Other strategies in establishing a healthy and safe environment

When a position is classified as a “Trust Service”, efforts will be made to manage or reduce any misconduct by applying one or more of the following strategies:

  1. Eliminate the service. There may be activities or programs which should be discontinued if it is seen or perceived as being inappropriate.
  2. Modify the activity. Change the location, duration, timing, personnel or mode of delivery of the activity or program.
  3. Transfer or Share Liability. Involve other organizations or service groups that may be better prepared to handle the specific service or program in question.
  4. Tasks. Design all employee and volunteer tasks with the “healthy and safe community environment” in mind. Ensure appropriate screening, orientation and training of individuals. Incorporate ongoing supervision and evaluation of employees and volunteers.

E. Confidentiality and record keeping

Information gathered for the purposes of screening is accessible only to the particular individual and those directly responsible for engaging or supervising him/her. It is important to keep basic information on record, such as addresses and telephone numbers for all volunteers and employees.

Where more extensive screening processes are used as a result of the nature of the service, these records are to be updated while the person is with the Parish or Diocese. Basic data on screening and supervision is to be kept permanently on file in the Parish or Diocese. This policy on confidentiality of records and their maintenance is to be explained to all persons.

F. Implementation

The screening process is a permanent feature of diocesan and parish operation. Everyone involved in a “Trust Service” will be screened with the utmost diligence.

G. Follow-up

The parish finance committee is responsible for the annual review, update and implementation of the screening policy. The result of the annual review by the parish financial committee is to be included with the Annual Financial Report provided to the Diocesan Financial Administration Office (i.e. all employees and volunteers currently active in parish activities have been reviewed as per the Diocesan Screening Policy).

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