United Methodist Church of Green Valley / Safe Sanctuaries & Child Protection Policies and Procedures
Part I Purpose
1. To provide a caring and secure environment for children, youth and adults in all phases of church life.
2. To minimize the risk of legal liability.
Part II Goals
The Goal of these guidelines is:
1. To prevent abuse from happening to any person in our care.
2. To prevent false allegations of abuse against individuals and the church.
3. To enable staff and volunteers to recognize and report suspected abuse.
Part III Policy Statement
United Methodist Church of Green Valley seeks to express God’s love to all people and provide for their personal wholeness. Our goal is to nurture, through teaching and example, that all may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves.
We take seriously our responsibility to maintain a safe and secure, nurturing environment in which our ministry takes place. United Methodist Church of Green Valley seeks to prevent any form of abuse and to be in ministry to families where abuse may occur.
Part IV Bullying
United Methodist Church of Green Valley will not tolerate behavior by any person that infringes on the safety (both physical and/or emotional) of another individual or group. One person shall not intimidate or harass another through words or actions. Such behavior includes: verbal assaults, such as teasing or condescending and inappropriate or vulgar language, name-calling; direct physical contact, such as hitting or shoving; and social isolation or manipulation. Including but not limited to children and youth.
Any alleged or suspected incident of bullying or inappropriate behavior must be reported immediately to a Pastor.
Part V Children and Youth
- Definition of Child Abuse
2. Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse
In an effort to create a safe environment for children and youth within United Methodist Church of Green Valley, all classrooms doors will have windows. In addition, the following abuse prevention measures will be utilized.
The Christian Education Coordinator will be responsible for screening anyone working with children or youth. All paid staff and volunteer workers will be asked to complete a screening form (UMC of GV-Screening Form) of background information. Questions will include but not be limited to, previous experience of working with children and youth, prior church membership and criminal convictions. A conference will be arranged with anyone failing to complete and sign the screening form. If a volunteer does not sign the form after consultation, that person will not be permitted to serve.
b. Background Checks
A check with the National Criminal Records File and the National Sex Offender Database will be performed by the Christian Education Coordinator on all staff and volunteers that have contact with child and youth. The Staff Parish Relations Committee is responsible for checking the Christian Education Coordinator.
An authorization form (UMC of GV- Criminal Records Check form) must be completed and signed. These checks should be repeated every three years for staff and all volunteers that work on a regular basis with children. Anyone convicted of child or sexual abuse will be denied the opportunity to work with our children or youth. All records will be kept in a secure location, and the person performing the checks will protect the confidentiality of those being checked.
New volunteers and staff will be required to attend the Safe Sanctuaries training. These training sessions will be offered by the church, conducted by a qualified instructor under the direction of the clergy/staff liaison of Christian Education, and held at various times throughout the year. Persons new to our congregation should wait 6 months prior to being able to volunteer with children or youth. Any volunteer who has not completed the training will be assigned to work with another volunteer who has completed the training.
Safe Sanctuaries training sessions will include:
- Awareness in understanding the nature of child abuse.
- Explanation, requirements and confidentiality of the screening form.
- Understanding of Arizona state law concerning child abuse reporting obligations
- A clearly defined reporting procedure for all alleged or suspected incident of abuse.
Each volunteer will be required to read the Safe Sanctuaries & Child Protection Policy/Procedures, and sign an acceptance form (UMC of GV Acceptance Form) indicating he/she has read and understands the policy and agrees to abide by it. Each year this policy will be reviewed, dated and signed again by all volunteers working with children and youth who have been through Safe Sanctuaries training and wish to continue in service.
Any youth under 18 serving as a classroom assistant, will be required to read and sign acceptance of the Policy/Procedures and complete and sign the screening form. In addition, he/she must have permission (UMC of GV-Permission to Volunteer Form) signed by a parent/guardian. The parent/guardian must also read/sign and understand the Safe Sanctuaries Policy.
4. Group of Three (Two Adult Leadership 18 years of age and older)
Every effort will be made to have adult leaders assigned in teams of two or more, for every class, group or activity involving children or youth.
Every effort will be made to recruit sufficient numbers of volunteer workers to permit such team teaching.
“Two adult” leadership will apply also to all other church sponsored activities where children or youth may be involved, e.g., child care during a program; as well as to any community group involving children or youth who use our facility.
a. At least one volunteer in each class or group will have completed the required Safe Sanctuaries Training.
b. In an unusual situation where two volunteers are not available despite every effort, other safeguarding arrangements will be made, e.g.,
c. Leaders of children and youth (teachers, camp counselors, youth workers) should be at least four years older than the participants that are
under their immediate supervision.
d. Youth under 18 may volunteer w/ adult supervision.
5. Abuse between Minors
Along with the safety measures stated in the Safe Sanctuaries Policy/Procedures, every effort will be made to avoid situations where abuse between minors is most likely to occur. Any alleged or suspected incident must be reported immediately to the Christian Education office.
6. In the case of children and youth, teachers/volunteers are to immediately report incidents of bullying to the Christian Education office and teachers are expected to immediately intervene when they see a bullying incident occur. If needed, a meeting with the parents, the senior or Associate Pastor and Christian Education Director will be scheduled.
7. Parent/ Teacher Responsibility (Nursery-5th Grade)
To ensure the safety of younger children, each child must be signed-in at the classroom and picked up and signed out at the end of the session by the parent/guardian (or person authorized in writing by the parent/guardian).
8. Special Activities/ Events
A permission form (UMC of GV- Permission/Medical Release form) signed by the parent/guardian is required for activities that youth participate in. (The standard church form is a combined permission and medical release form as described below). Individual notices regarding specific dates and times will be sent home prior to each event. At the end of an event at least two volunteers must remain until all children/youth have been picked up.
Permission and Medical Release Form, as required by Arizona Law, must be notarized. It must include information about any health problems such as diabetes, seizures, etc., information about all medication being taken and provide name and phone number of person to notify in an emergency. It gives parent/guardian consent for emergency medical treatment in the event the parent/guardian cannot be reached. The form must be signed and dated. Permission /Medical Release forms must be carried with the group on any trip.
Drivers transporting children/youth for church sponsored activities must complete and sign a Driver Qualification Form (UMC of GV- Driver Qualification Form). They must provide a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance on their vehicle. Driver’s license record checks may be made if the applicant indicates they have 1 or more citations or convictions due to accidents or moving violations in the last 5 years; this excludes parents driving their own children and youth to and from meetings of events. Per the recommendation of Church Mutual, drivers under the age of 25 shall also have a record check. Staff and volunteers may be denied the opportunity to drive for children/youth events if undesirable results appear on these checks.
- (Transportation) Use of the church VAN for non church sponsored events, a permission form signed by the Parent or guardian must be provided to the driver by the sponsoring event. If one is not available, the driver must provide parents/guardians with form to complete prior to transporting. Permission slips must be carried with the driver at all times.
- Drivers transporting children/youth for church sponsored activities in the church VAN must comply with conditions in #8 (Permission and Medical Release Forms)
- GVCC will not transport children who require car seats or booster seats.
10. Accident/Injury Reporting
Any injury occurring during a church sponsored function must be documented no matter how minor. Incident report forms (UMC of GV- Incident Report Forms) are available in the First Aid Kits, which are located in Sunday School Rooms 1&2, Youth Room, Kitchen and Church office. Incident reports should be given to the Christian Education Director.
11. Open- Door Counseling
At any counseling sessions with children or youth, the door of the room used should remain open for the entire session if the door has no window. Ideally, the session will be conducted at a time when others are nearby, even if they are not within listening distance.
12. Appropriate Written and Electronic Communication between Youth and Adults.
Written and electronic communications between adults and children and youth should be as open and public as possible. Persons wishing to post pictures or information on the internet, specific to church events or activities may do so only with express permission of the organization that sponsored the activity, i.e., ACTS or VBS.
ADDENDUM to Safe Sanctuaries Policy Effective 7/16/2015
Social Media Policy for Children and Youth
As an ever increasing number of people use and prefer digital communication over other forms, it is essential that the church be present in this mission field. Social networking sites, on-the-spot communication devices and email can enhance communication, faith sharing and deepen relationships.
The following recommended practices and guidelines apply principles of healthy boundaries and safe church to the virtual world of digital networking and communication. They are intended to raise awareness of issues and open doors of conversations with ministry teams. We encourage all ministry teams to discern together the following guidelines, considering the nature of your ministry and being mindful that our calling is to meet children and youth where they are; model healthy boundaries; and love and care for them safely. Adults engaged in ministry to youth and children should consider their relationship with the youth or child when interacting with them using digital media, and should conduct themselves in a manner that would be acceptable on church grounds.
1. CONNECTING ON SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES In addition to participating on the ministry pages, youth may wish to establish social media connections with church leaders and adult volunteers engaged in youth ministry. Adults who are willing to participate in these relationships should use the following guidelines when establishing these connections:
a. Adults should not submit 'friend' requests to children or youth. Minors may feel like they are not ableto decline such requests due to the
disparity of power between them and adults. Exceptions to this rule should only be made in situations when the adult's privacy settings
make it difficult or impossible for the youth to find the adult's page on the site. In these circumstances, it is acceptable for an adult to
request a youth as a friend, if the youth has requested that they do so.
b. Due to the greater potential for misinterpretation, inappropriate discussions, and inadvertent exposure of youth to inappropriate content;
personal pages should be maintained appropriately. Church leaders and adult volunteers should avoid relationships with children/youth via
Social Networking sites, unless an actual relationship (ministry, family friendship, etc.) already exists between them.
c. As additional social media sites gain popularity, the Safe Sanctuary Committee reserves the right to apply this approach to the various
methods of digital communication.
2. BOUNDARIES All church leaders and adult volunteers engaged in ministry with children and youth are strongly encouraged to set strict privacy settings on any personal social networking profile, making every effort to prevent youth and children from being introduced to objectionable content. Privacy settings on personal pages and information should be thoroughly scrutinized on a regular basis to prevent this information from being available to minors.
In the event that a church leader or adult volunteer does not feel that they can set the proper privacy settings and/or regularly check their personal pages (2-3 times per day} for inappropriate material that might have been posted by others, they are asked to completely restrict child/youth access to their pages.
For the sake of their own privacy and the well-being of the child/youth participants, church leaders and adult volunteers should not add or invite children or youth to any groups, events, pages, chat rooms, etc. that are not solely dedicated to
activities directly related to the children or youth ministries or ministry activities.
Given the continuing evolution of privacy settings and capabilities on many social networking sites, church leaders and adult volunteers must be willing to continue to educate themselves on what settings are needed to support the above recommendations. Additionally, the child and youth ministry programs should establish periodic education event for parents, youth, and for adult volunteers who wish to use social media as part of their ministry efforts.
Social media is an excellent way to quickly share both good and sad moments in a person's life with a large number of people. However, as with all forms of communication, users should be respectful of the privacy of others. This is particularly the case with youth and children's ministry leaders. Leaders should be especially mindful of how information is presented in such a permanent medium, and should never share news about another person without their express prior consent.
a. Use prudent judgment in the time you contact youth and children through social media, e-mail or other forms of digital communication. The "home phone rule" is a basic rule of thumb to use - normally do not text or chat with youth at a time you would not normally call
their home phone line, i.e. before 9:00 AM or after 9:00 PM.
Exceptions to this rule are as follows:
- In emergency situations or when children or youth reach out to a church leader or adult volunteer with issues that they feel that they need to discuss immediately.
- During weekends, vacation times, and other times when children or youth may have parental permission to stay up later than normal, adult leaders may respond to youth initiated communications outside of these hours, at their discretion.
- In all of the exception situations, adults should use good judgment in deciding when discussions should continue or be picked up at a more appropriate time, in order to support and demonstrate good boundaries with their personal time.
b. All church leaders and adult volunteers engaged in ministry with children and youth should consider the content and nature of any posts
that will be seen or read by others. Your voice is often considered the voice of the church.
c. One on one' video, photo or chat room based interaction is generally not appropriate between adults and minors. Such communications should only be engaged in where no face-to-face communication is possible, such as where the youth is away for the summer in a foreign
country but regularly communicates with the adult in person.
d. When the content of received communications raises concerns or questions, it should be shared with a member of the Pastoral team, and
law enforcement, where appropriate.
e. Email is not an appropriate communication method for matters that are pastorally sensitive, emotionally charged, or that require extensive
conversation. Email may be more appropriate where matters are deemed legally sensitive to preserve records of communication.
f. Humor and sarcasm can be easily misinterpreted, and should be used only where appropriate. All communication sent digitally (email
social networking sites, notes or posts, etc.) may be shared or re-posted to others. Adults should be mindful that comments sent to a youth
may be shared by that youth in a number of ways and that misinterpretation of those comments may occur.
g. Phone conversations and face-to-face meetings are the preferred mode of communication, when responding to emotionally driven
communication or pastoral emergencies, and should be used when possible to provide the appropriate level of support.
4. IDENTITY PROTECTION
We will seek to protect the privacy and identity of all minors in our use of social media. All church leaders and adults leaders in youth and children's ministry should closely monitor the privacy settings of any posted youth images to ensure that they are not accessible to
individuals who do not have permission to view them.
a. All church leaders and adult volunteers engaged in ministry with minors must not post photos or video that identifies children or youth on
any online site or printed publication without the written consent from a parent or legal guardian. This rule is in keeping with the
UMC of GV Safe Sanctuary Policy.
b. Even with the written consent from a parent or legal guardian, pictures should be posted to either the ACTS Youth closed group or on personal pages, where the privacy settings restrict viewing to only those associated with the youth ministry.
c. We strongly encourage the respect and dignity of every person depicted in an image. Only pictures depicting youth in an appropriate light should be posted. "Appropriate" pictures may include goofy pictures that the youth's parents are comfortable being posted. If a picture
would make the youth feel self-conscious, vulnerable, or would subject the youth to ridicule, the picture should not be posted.
d. When checking in with any location tagging social media only check in you. Never check in minors.
Be sensitive to tagging or revealing other participants' locations.
5. ADMINISTRATION OF OFFICIAL UMC of GV SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS
a. Each church related social media site, group or page must have a minimum of two unrelated administrators, who are either church leaders
or adult volunteers engaged in the ministry.
b. Sites must be monitored frequently to allow for quick responses in the event urgent or crisis concerns are posted.
c. Administrators should review at a minimum on an annual basis or as deemed necessary, the access to the ACTS Youth 'Closed' group
account to remove:
1 Adult leaders who no longer actively participate in the youth program.
2. Former youth members, and their parents, who no longer actively participate in the youth program.
Active participation in the youth group may include:
FORMER YOUTH WHO:
- Having a sibling who remains in the youth group.
- Having a number of younger friends who participate in the youth group.
- Regular attendance as a counselor or participant on summer mission trips, but not participating on a weekly or monthly basis.
- Regular attendance as a counselor or participant on summer mission trips, but not participating on a weekly or monthly basis.
- An established mentor/mentee role with an older youth.
- Family relationships that essentially establish the adult in an older sibling or parental role with an active youth
- Youth leaders who, but for their geographic distance from Green Valley, would remain involved in the lives of the youth, provided that the youngest age the adult worked with have not matriculated out of the youth group
d. Any inappropriate material posted to a church related social media site, group or page must be deleted and addressed.
End of Addendum to Social Media Policy
Part VI REPORTING CHILD ABUSE - We are both morally and legally responsible to report actions that surround suspected or know child abuse.
ARIZONA LAW REQUIRES certain persons who suspect that a child has received non-accidental injury or has been neglected to report their concern to Child Protective Services or local law enforcement (ARS 13-3620.A)
Should there be an allegation of child abuse at United Methodist Church of Green Valley or reasons to suspect abuse has occurred, these procedures are to be followed.
1. Treat any allegation of abuse or reasonable suspicion of child abuse seriously.
Do not ignore any reported or suspected incident.
2. Immediately report the allegation or suspicion of abuse to the Senior Pastor and Associate Pastor, Christian Education Coordinator or Sunday School superintendent. Maintain Confidentiality.
3. Immediately document all actions taken in the handling of the allegation. (UMC of GV- Abuse Form).
If it is suspected that a child or youth in our care has been subjected to abuse or neglect in their home, the Senior Pastor or designate must immediately notify:
- Pima County Child Protective Services: 1-888 SOS- CHILD (1-888-767-2445)
When it is alleged that a child or youth in our care has been subjected to abuse by someone in the church the following contacts should be made immediately.
- Sheriff’s Office: Monday – Friday - 625-2200
- The District Superintendent - 325-2775
- Insurance Company: Church Mutual - (715) 536-5577
The initial phone report to the civil authorities must be followed by a written report within 72 hours.
Part VII POLICY/PROCEDURES REVIEW
1. The responsibility for screening compliance of the United Methodist Church of Green Valley Safe Sanctuaries Policy/Procedures for
paid staff workers will
begin with the Staff Parish Relations Committee. The cost for background checks for paid staff will be the responsibility of Staff Parish
2. The responsibility for screening compliance of the United Methodist Church of Green Valley Safe Sanctuaries Policy/Procedures for
volunteers will be that of the Christian Education Office. The Christian Education Coordinator will screen and train volunteers. The
cost for background checks for volunteers will be determined by the group requesting volunteers, i.e., Christian Education, ACTS
Youth, and Vacation Bible School etc.
3. The responsibility for screening compliance of the United Methodist Church of Green Valley Safe Sanctuaries Policy/Procedures by
outside groups providing child care during their meetings in the United Methodist Church of Green Valley will begin with the Board of
The Trustees will require outside groups providing child care to comply with the following:
a. Read the United Methodist Church of Green Valley’s Safe Sanctuary Policy/Procedures
b. Sign the United Methodist Church of Green Valley acceptance form (UMC of GV-Acceptance Form) indicating they have read
and understood the Safe Sanctuary Policy.
4. Should the need arise to amend the Policy, the Administrative Board Chairperson will apoint a sub-committee to work with the Christian
Education Coordinator, the Staff Parish Relations Committee and the Board of Trustees. Serving as an ex-officio member of the group shall be the Senior Pastor and /or his or her representative.
The Child Protection Policy was adopted and put into effect by the Board on April 9, 1998.
Amended by the Administrative Board, February 13, 2003
Amended by the Administrative Board, May 2005
Amended by the Administrative Board, March 2006
Amended by the Safe Sanctuaries Sub-Committee, September 8, 2011
Accepted by the Administrative Board, Sept 22, 2011
Amended by the Safe Sanctuaries Sub-Committee, July 18, 2013
9A, 9B, 9C added
Accepted by the Church Council, July 18, 2013
Addendum to Policy; Guideline for Social Media, July 14, 2015
Amended by Safe Sanctuaries Sub Committee, August 4, 2015
Accepted by the Church Council, September 16, 2015