Last month the Standing Committee passed a new Policy for the Protection of Children, Youth, and Vulnerable Adults. This replaces our prior policy and is tied into the new Praesidium curriculum, Safe Church, Safe Communities, which has replaced the former “Safeguarding God’s Children” and “Safeguarding God’s People” training.
I believe both of these are improvements over their predecessors, and both are being provided to us (and mandated by) the Episcopal Church as a whole.
Safe Church, Safe Communities differs from its predecessors in taking an approach that, while recognizing legal obligations, is rooted in building healthy relationships. We do this work not solely to avoid legal peril, but because we believe that every human being must be treated with dignity. That dignity includes healthy relationships between supervisors and employees, clergy and laity, adults and children, and ministers of all kinds with vulnerable adults. Several of the modules are available in Spanish (finally!) and the rest are expected to be translated and available in both Spanish and French.
The new policy includes much that will be familiar to those who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults, and also includes Appendices that give specific instructions for which modules are required for which roles, and what level of background check is necessary for people in various volunteer roles in congregations. Background checks for Clergy and Lay employees will still go through Oxford Documents.
Items that are still in process: translating the new policy into Spanish, and receiving more information from the Episcopal Church about how and when we might be able to offer this training in person for those who are unable to do it online.
Laurie Birchmeier is the Safe Church administrator for the Diocese of Arizona, and she will be in the Exhibit Hall at Diocesan Convention with additional information on Safe Church, Safe Communities, and the new Policy for the Protection of Children, Youth, and Vulnerable Adults.