Keeping our Children Safe
Keeping our Children Safe!
Resource: 2015 Child Protective Services Law
Eastern District Conference
Mennonite Church USA
Jesus took a little child into his arms and said, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Eastern District Conference churches want to be a safe place for children to be loved, nurtured and protected. This includes taking active steps to ensure we are in compliance with current state child protection laws.
2015 saw a major legislative overhaul of the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (especially HB 435) requiring churches to update their current policies, access new resources, and obtain new clearances for church staff and those in direct contact with children.
Below are resources to help us ensure compliance with these laws:
Who needs clearances?
All employees age 14 and older and volunteers over the age of 18, who have “direct contact” with a child or children, are now designated as “mandated reporters.” A child is defined by the law as anyone under the age of 18. Direct contact can be defined as those acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent or guardian, someone providing care, guidance, supervision and or has routine interaction.
If you suspect Child Abuse or Neglect, immediately contact: The Child Welfare Portal online: https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home or call ChildLine at 1–800–932-0313
What clearances need to be obtained?
All individuals requiring clearances will need to complete the:
Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check (SPA-164) or https://epatch.state.pa.us
If the individual is paid for their position OR has lived outside of Pennsylvania in the past 10 years, then they are required to complete the:
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Background Check which is processed through Cogent.
Paid church staff must also complete Annual Child Abuse Training (also recommended for volunteers): http://wesa.fm/post/new-child-abuse-reporting-training-offered-pitt-online
For persons applying for an volunteer position (unpaid) who have lived in Pennsylvania for the last 10 years,
it is expected that they would sign a “swear and affirm” document as they are not required to complete the FBI background check. (A sample “swear and affirm” document can be found here. Also, Souderton Mennonite Church currently uses a “Volunteer Covenant” that can be viewed here
Blessings as you and your congregation work to keep our children safe!