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Safekeeping

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Q & A for FBCHSV Safekeeping Policies & Procedures

Who must be screened in order to serve in the ministries and programs of First Baptist Church?

In short, all volunteers with preschoolers, children, and youth must be screened.  This includes all persons working in Sunday School, missions education, music education, worship care, and all special events associated with the preschool, children, and youth ministries.  Further, all employees of First Baptist Church, Huntsville, must be screened.

Questions about The Screening of Volunteers

How long do I have to be a member of First Baptist before I can apply for volunteer service?

All prospective volunteers shall have been a member of First Baptist Church, Huntsville, for at least six (6) months prior to the commencement of the volunteer service.  Exceptions to this rule may be made on an individual basis only by the minister in a specified ministry area with the approval of the Executive Pastor.

What is the process for screening volunteers?

All current workers with preschoolers, children, and youth, and those prospective applicants for these positions shall:

1. Complete an Leadership Information Form with our background screening service. If you prefer to fill out the paper version of this form, you may obtain this form in the finance office from our Safekeeping Processor. Upon completing the paper form, your data will be entered into the online  Leadership Information Form.  

If you have questions, call our Safekeeping Processor in the Church Office at 256-428-9400. This application includes a statement that you must sign indicating that you have read and understand these policies and agree to follow these policies.

2. As part of the application, you will sign a consent authorization for a Criminal Background Check when completing the online Leadership Information Form.

3. As part of the application, you will sign an Alabama Department of Human Resources Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) Central Registry Clearance form (also known as 1598 Form) when completing the online Leadership Information Form. Please print off the form and return to the Safekeeping Processor in the Church Office. All blanks on this form must be completed; if a blank does not apply, mark with N/A.  All documentation must be completed and received. Once submitted, our Safekeeping Processor in the Church Office will begin processing the application with our background screening service, Protect My Ministry.  Will I be requested to provide references? You will be asked to provide the name, email address, mailing address, telephone numbers, and the nature of your association with at least three references. These references may not be former employers, relatives, or current church staff members.  Reference Background Checks will be conducted on all applicants through email primarily so please include the email address of each reference. If no email address is given, telephone calls, interviews with personal references, and/or mail response using a reference contact form will be used.  Background checks will be conducted by the Safekeeping Processor in our church office. Confidentiality will be maintained.  All records will be kept under lock and key in a secure area of the church offices.

Will I be able to see the forms completed by my references?

You may choose to review the information provided by your references. What is a Criminal Records Background Check? A Criminal Background Check is a formal screening process used to determine if a prospective volunteer has had past criminal convictions. Based on where the applicant has lived, this may be a one-county criminal background check or several and may include a state criminal background check if the applicant has lived in several counties of the same state. Our check will also include a scan of the National Sex Offender Registry.  

Will all volunteers undergo a Criminal Records Background Check?

Most volunteer positions will undergo a Criminal Records Background Check.  Regardless, the church reserves the right to conduct a Criminal Records Background Check at any point on any worker.  Criminal Records Background Checks are required for all volunteers who will be chaperoning for overnight activities.  This requirement relates to the high degree of risk and responsibility involved in these activities. What is an Alabama Department of Human Resources Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) Central Registry Clearance Form (1598 Form)? This form is used to request information from the Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) Central Registry for volunteers or potential employees who will provide unsupervised care and supervision for children. This form must be completed in full. The original will be processed by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.  

How will I know if and when I have been approved for volunteer service?

If no questionable responses are received, either from the applicant or from the related background check, the Safekeeping Processor  will notify you by email and will place your name on a list of approved workers.  The Executive Pastor will also be notified of all approved workers.  This list of approved workers will then be made available to the appropriate persons responsible for recruiting volunteer workers.

What happens if the screening process surfaces some question about my suitability for volunteer service?  

Any application with adverse information or questionable background checks will be forwarded to the Executive Pastor. The Executive Pastor will then confer with the minister responsible for the activities of the volunteer applicant concerning the matters under question, known mitigating factors and approaches to pastoral care for the applicant in dealing with the issues under questions. The Executive Pastor or conferring minister will contact the applicant for conversations concerning the adverse information and/or background information. Additional pastoral and/or counseling resources will be made available to the applicant, as needed. A committee comprised of the Executive Pastor, Minister to Students, Minister to Children, Minister to Preschool Children, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and a representative of the Legal Committee shall make the final decision for approval or disapproval of such applicant. This Committee may consult with mental health or other qualified professionals as needed. The decision of the Committee shall be final.

What sort of situations would prohibit a person from serving as a volunteer with preschoolers, children, and youth at First Baptist Church?

Applicants will not be permitted to work with children or youth in any church function if:

Applicant has been convicted, pleaded guilty or otherwise adjudicated guilty of sexual or physical abuse, sex related offenses, crimes of violence or any offense related to child pornography.
Applicant has any pending charges related to sexual or physical abuse, sex related offenses, crimes of violence or offenses related to child pornography.
Applicants may not be automatically prohibited from working with children or youth, but will be subject to further screening including, but not limited to, a personal meeting with an appropriate minister of the Church before his/her application can be considered further if:
Applicant has been previously charged with, but acquitted of sexual or physical abuse, sex related offenses, crimes of violence or has offenses related to child pornography.Applicant provides other affirmative responses or leaves responses blank on "Section B. Legal Questionnaire" on the Leadership Information Form.
Applicant has been indicated for child abuse or neglect by any child welfare or protection services agency.
A criminal records background check and a child abuse and neglect check will be performed every three (3) years on all volunteers.  

What types of situations would require additional screening before a person might be allowed to serve as a volunteer at First Baptist Church?  

Applicants may not be automatically prohibited from working with children or youth, but will be subject to further screening including, but not limited to, a personal meeting with an appropriate minister of the Church before his/her application can be considered further if:
Applicant has been previously charged with, but acquitted of sexual or physical abuse, sex related offenses, crimes of violence or has offenses related to child pornography.
Applicant provides other affirmative responses or leaves responses blank on "Section B. Legal Questionnaire" on the Leadership Information Form. Applicant has been indicated for child abuse or neglect by any child welfare or protection services agency.A criminal records background check and a child abuse and neglect check will be performed every three (3) years on all volunteers.  

Questions about The Screening of Employees

What is the screening process for employees of First Baptist, Huntsville?

Every applicant for any paid position of First Baptist Church, Huntsville shall complete an employment application and a consent form for a criminal records background check, and a child abuse and neglect check or the applicant will not be considered for employment by the church. All information gathered from the employment application and related background checks will be held in strict confidence. Records will be kept in a secure location. No person shall be employed before the Personnel Committee and/or the staff supervisor responsible for hiring that position has received and reviewed the applicant's completed employment application and has received the all-clear form the process for the online background check. No one who has been convicted, pleaded guilty, or otherwise adjudicated guilty of sexual or physical abuse, sex related offenses, crimes of violence or offenses related to child pornography will be permitted to work at First Baptist Church, Huntsville, in any capacity. No one with pending charges of sexual or physical abuse, sex related offenses, crimes of violence or offenses related to child pornography will be permitted to work at the church in any capacity. Anyone who has been previously charged with but acquitted of sexual or physical abuse, sex related offenses, crimes of violence, offenses related to child pornography or who has been indicated for child abuse or neglect by any child welfare or protection services agency will be subject to further screening.

Procedures for Supervision of Preschool/Children/Youth

Once approved for service, all volunteer workers with preschoolers, children, and youth will use the following procedures to facilitate their work.

THE “TWO ADULT” RULE

All workers should avoid being alone in a one-on-one situation with preschoolers, children, and youth.When supervising children ages birth to third grade, a minimum of two adults, age 19 and older, should be present in the classroom. Exceptions to this rule are:

1.The Weekday Early Education ministry may staff a room with only one adult teacher with the following safeguards in place: The teachers, as paid employees, have been through the complete screening procedures, including criminal background check. Visual access into the classroom is available at all times.  Random, unannounced visits are made to the classroom regularly by another adult.
2. Classrooms may be staffed by one adult and one youth, age 16 and older, if:The parent or guardian of the youth must print and complete a Permission for Child to Participate as Volunteer and Representation of Fitness to Serve form.The youth has been approved by a minister to work in this area. Another adult, serving as coordinator or division director, makes periodic checks on the room, and is available to assist in the classroom if needed.
3. Youth younger than age 16, who have received permission from the appropriate minister to work with children, may assist in the classroom as helpers, but may not count as one of the two required adults. The “two adults” that are scheduled to work with preschoolers, children, or youth may be from the same family.  However, the church will seek to provide additional adult workers to assist couples and other family members when working together with preschoolers, children, and youth.

PASTORAL CARE AND COUNSELING WITH CHILDREN AND YOUTH

When involved in a counseling session with children or youth, ministerial staff are exempt from the “two adult rule.”  However, the counseling shall take place in an environment which allows visual access by others.  When numerous counseling sessions are contemplated, either:Parental permission shall be obtained in writing for the minister to meet privately with the minor, or The “two adult rule” shall apply.

RESTROOM PROCEDURES

Preschool classes are to use the restroom in their classroom.  If a teacher must assist a child in the restroom, the door to the restroom shall remain open.  Older preschoolers who do not require assistance in the restroom, should be given the privacy of being alone with the door closed.  If a child must use the restroom when outside the classroom, every effort should be made to avoid a situation where one teacher and one child are alone in the restroom.

WINDOWS ON CLASSROOM DOORS

All doors to classrooms for children and youth will have windows.  The windows should remain uncovered at all times. If no window is present in a door going into an area where preschoolers, children, or youth are present, the door shall remain open during use so that persons passing by can observe inside.

SHUT DOOR POLICY

In infant through three-year old classrooms, the door to the hallway should either be shut or a gate securely in place at all times preschoolers are in the room.

SUPERVISION OF ACTIVITIES

At all events for preschoolers, children and youth, a coordinator will be present to make periodic, random visits to the classrooms.

RELEASE OF CHILDREN

Children in infant through three year old church classes will only be released to a properly identified and authorized adult.

THE “OVERNIGHT” RULE

Special attention will be given to planning and carrying out activities that involve children and youth in overnight stays, on or off church property.  Adequate adult supervision, appropriate separation of sexes, and other precautions will be taken.  All adult chaperons must clear the appropriate screening procedures before being allowed to participate. Sleeping arrangements will be made to avoid one adult and one child being in a room alone except family members.

EDUCATION OF WORKERS

Each church year, opportunities for training in understanding, preventing, recognizing, and reporting suspected child abuse will be provided by the various ministry areas of our church.  Volunteer workers with preschoolers, children, and youth will be required to participate in at least one of these training opportunities.

PARENTAL SUPERVISION AND PARTICIPATION

Parents should not leave their children unattended at church, especially before or after scheduled events.  Parents are encouraged to attend, participate in, and observe all activities in which their children are engaged.

IMMEDIATE DISCUSSION OF SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR

Any questionable conduct involving preschooler, child, or youth will be confronted immediately and investigated.  Staff and volunteers will be advised to be alert if a child or youth appears withdrawn or aloof, exhibits a marked personality change, or exhibits any signs of physical abuse or other behavior that may indicate a problem that deserves attention.

REPORTING OBLIGATIONS OF ABUSE

What do I do if I suspect that a preschooler, child, or youth is being abused? Abusive situations often continue if they go unnoticed and unreported.  All employees and volunteers in ministries involving preschoolers, children, and youth must know what constitutes an occasion for reporting, the reporting channels they should use, and their legal obligations to make a report. Alabama’s child abuse reporting statute (ALA. CODE § 26-14-13) makes it mandatory to report child abuse cases for physicians, nurses, other health care officials, law enforcement officials, school teachers and officials, social workers, day care workers, mental health professionals, members of the clergy and any other person called upon to render aid or medical assistance to any child, when such child is known or suspected to be a victim of child abuse or neglect.  These persons are required by law to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect under a penalty of a misdemeanor fine or sentence.  The Alabama statute grants a privilege to those making such reports.  (ALA. CODE § 26-14-9). It is the policy of FBC, Huntsville, to encourage immediate reporting of all incidents or suspected incidents of child abuse.  The volunteer or employee making the report shall immediately notify his/her supervisor who shall in turn immediately report orally to the Pastor or other minister of FBC. In consultation with the Pastor and/or Executive Pastor and upon advice from the Legal Committee, a decision will be made as soon as possible as to whether to report the incident or suspected incident to the proper authorities.  If determined to be a suspected incident of child abuse or neglect, the Pastor or Executive Pastor shall immediately report the incident to the appropriate authorities both orally and in writing.  All reasonable steps shall be taken immediately to ensure that the alleged wrongdoer has no further contact with the alleged victim and has no further contact with children or youth in the church pending completion of an investigation.  Nothing in these policies and procedures should be construed as a limitation on a person required by law to report child abuse to fulfill their obligation pursuant to AL Code 26-14-13. 

RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE

All allegations of child abuse will be taken seriously.  The care and safety of the victim will be the first priority.  All such matters will be handled forthrightly with due respect for rights of privacy and confidentiality, for both the victim and any accused.  Full cooperation will be given to law enforcement authorities. The parents of any alleged victim of child abuse will be promptly notified by either the Pastor or other ministerial staff.  They will be informed of the steps that are being taken, and will continue to be advised of the status of the church’s actions.  The safety and privacy of the victim will be a paramount concern.  The church will demonstrate care and concern for the victim and his/her family.  Privacy and confidentiality will be preserved to the extent possible. When an incident of child abuse arises, the Pastor, in consultation with other ministerial staff, legal counsel and the Chairman of the Trustees, will designate a spokesperson for the church.  This person will have all contact with the media and the congregation, and will handle all such communication in a discrete, informed and Christlike manner.

 

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