Screening is a process designed to help us do a better job of assigning volunteers and paid staff while protecting them as well as participants. Participants are those who receive the benefit of programs and services. Screening can also be an aide in protecting our limited Church resources, whether physical or financial.
All organizations whether run by staff or volunteers that minister to, or provide programs for vulnerable people, have a responsibility to appropriately screen their volunteers. This responsibility is moral, legal and spiritual. Not only is it the ‘right’ thing to do but is a legal requirement called ‘Duty of Care’.
Since the earliest days of the Church, we have come together to worship and to live out our faith. We continue that tradition today: we reach out to those in need, we counsel, we help, we teach. Each of us brings unique gifts to share. At the core of this mission to help is a sacred trust that needs to be protected and never misused. We must do everything we can to protect children, vulnerable adults as well as Church volunteers, staff and resources. This is all part of that sacred trust given to us.
This means not being blind to the reality that some people may seek out those who are vulnerable to exploit or abuse them. They may take advantage of organizations that have non-existing or lax screening procedures. Having gained access to vulnerable individuals, such people can win their confidence and trust and bring immeasurable harm to them and their families.
The Parish Screening Committee screens all parishioners who exercise any role, function or ministry at the Church. The screening requirements and procedures vary from one ministry to another, depending on the level of risk and trust level assigned. A volunteer who is alone with a vulnerable individual necessitates a more thorough screening procedure than a volunteer who participates in a group setting. It is not the character of a volunteer, but rather the nature of the ministry and its risk level that dictates the need for screening.
THREE CATEGORIES of MINISTRY POSITIONS
Volunteer positions are evaluated based on the risks inherent in the positions. The risk levels are low, medium and high. When it comes to ministry positions, these are categorized using more positive language and categorized according to a level of trust rather than risk. Hence, we don’t speak of high, medium and low risk ministries; rather, we speak of General Trust Increased Trust and High Trust ministries.
General Trust: Volunteers who participate in a group setting, who have minimal or no contact with children or other vulnerable people, and who have minimal access to confidential information.
Examples of GENERAL TRUST positions are choir members or readers. These individuals would be required to read a position description, read the volunteer guidelines and to fill out a volunteer information form.
Increased Trust: Volunteers who participate in activities that may involve contact with vulnerable people, either on a more regular basis or in a private setting but in the presence of another volunteer. Also included are volunteers who have a greater access to confidential information.
A position assessed as GENERAL TRUST requires the volunteer or employee to fill out a volunteer information sheet, read the position description as well as the volunteer guidelines, be interviewed and provide references. An example would be a member of the Parish Finance Council or the Parish Pastoral Council.
High Trust: Volunteers who participate in ministries that involve an on-going, intensive or one-on-one interaction with vulnerable people, such as children and seniors as well as volunteers who are in a position to exert influence over youth. This includes volunteers who have access to confidential records, money and the physical premises.
The most rigorous screening is reserved for positions deemed HIGH TRUST and this includes an interview, reference checks and a police records check as well as reading the position description and volunteer guidelines and filling out a volunteer information sheet. Some examples of High Trust ministries are: Youth Ministry, Pastoral Care Visitors, visitors to the home bound, Catechists and collection counters. Employees are almost always categorized as High Trust.
Positions that have been assessed as GENERAL or INCREASED do not require a police records check.