Diocese of Pennsylvania Polices & Procedures
The Diocese of Pennsylvania and the Episcopal Church recognize the potential for harm when a priest, lay employee or volunteer engage in sexual exploitation, harassment or abuse in one of our churches or institutions. Thus, we, like most Episcopal dioceses, have produced resources that include suggestions for safe ways of interacting with children, youth and adults in the church.
Three different documents are available for download below:
Parishes and youth ministries are encouraged to read these helpful documents and use them in planning events and programs.
Additionally, all employees and volunteers who work with youth should participate in online training from the diocese. Parishes must designate an account administrator to set up this training. Contact Henry Carnes, Director of Education & Communications, to access this training. Click here to email Henry directly.
PA State Policies: Mandated Reporting & Background Checks
In 2014, the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed Act 153, changing the way churches and other organizations implement background checks and child abuse reporting in their ministries. Changes to state law include a broader definition of the term "mandated reporter" and new state policies regarding background checks for employees and volunteers who work with youth.
Individuals labeled mandated reporters are now required to undergo state-mandated training. This training is separate and in addition to diocesan-required Safe Church training. Additionally, parishes are now required to run background checks from the PA state police and the PA Department of Human Services, as well as a Federal Background Check through the FBI and Cogent Systems.
Available for download below is a document outlining these new laws and how they affect ministry to young people in our communities. Also below are some helpful links for parishes to use as they begin the process of running checks and training on employees and volunteers.
Fall 2015 Updates: The State of Pennsylvania has waived the State Police check and Child Abuse Clearance fees for volunteers only. When applying for these checks, be sure to register as a volunteer. Employees are still required to pay fees for background checks. However, the cost of the State Police check and Child Abuse Clearance has been lowered to $8.00.
Also note that volunteers are still required to pay full price for the Federal Background check.
Helpful Links for Ministries:
Mandated Reporting Info & FAQs from KeepKidsSafePA
Free, Online Mandated Reporter Training
List of Additional State-Approved Training Options
PA State Police Background Check
Child Abuse Clearance (Department of Human Services)
Federal Background Check (including info on fingerprinting)