Safe Church Updates (September 2022)
As some of you may already know, sexual exploitation and harassment training supported by The Episcopal Church has been in the midst of transition for several years: new policies have been approved, a new curriculum has been developed, and a new online training platform has launched. For the formation leaders and school and parish administrators most closely engaged in training and reporting processes, it’s been a little challenging to keep up! To all of you, and to the volunteers diligently completing their training in order to be involved in their ministries and schools, thank you for your flexibility and patience as these developments release.
On September 10, 2022, the Diocesan Executive Council voted to approve a few interim amendments to our Safeguarding Policy Manual. These amendments will bring our diocesan policies in closer alignment with the model policies approved and mandated for diocesan adoption at the 79th General Convention. The approved amendments were made to sections of our policy manual regarding the duration of training certification and chaperone supervision, and are as follows:
- That page 7 of the current Safeguarding God’s People Training Policy Manual be amended to require that Certification must be renewed every 3 years;
- That the supervision ratios on pages fifteen and sixteen of the current Safeguarding God’s People Training Policy Manual be amended as follows:
At any gathering of children or youth, there shall be at least two unrelated adults with one being age 25 or older, preferably reflecting the sex and gender identity of the participants.
Minimum ratios of adult to child/youth shall be in accordance with American Camp Association (ACA) guidelines as follows:
- 5 years & younger — 1 adult for each 5 overnight-participants and 1 adult for each 6 day-participants
- 6–8 years — 1:6 for overnight, and 1:8 for day
- 9–14 years — 1:8 for overnight and 1:10 for day
- 15–18 years — 1:10 for overnight and 1:12 for day
Additional adults can provide skills, mentorship, support, encouragement, spiritual guidance, and joy. When you have new leaders-in-training, the leadership teams should also have a reasonable number of experienced adult leaders to provide support.
Minimum ratios of adult to youth need to be greater due to the possibility of leaving an adult behind with a participant in the event of a medical emergency.
- 9–14 years — 1:5
- 15–18 years — 1:7
Regardless of group size, no group should travel with fewer than three adult chaperones.
DEC also approved the appointment of a task force to review our policy manual in conjunction with the General Convention model policies in order to present an updated draft manual to DEC later this year.
GUIDANCE REGARDING SAFE CHURCH TRAINING
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting in-person gatherings and the release of online training modules including the new Safe Church, Safe Communities curriculum, our diocese has opted to utilize the online platform Praesidium Academy as our primary training resource (General Convention also recently decommissioned the Safeguarding God’s People/Children training materials). Because this was a shift from how we previously conducted training, I want to clarify some things:
- Instructor-led trainings WILL resume, but not exactly as we’ve done it in the past. I know how critical it is to be able to offer in-person training, and the diocese intends to make this an option again. The General Convention Task Force to Develop Model Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies & Safe Church Training is actively developing a workbook to train trainers on the new content and how to apply the practices locally, but the expectation will be that trainers will lead sessions for groups of people that have already taken the online training. In other words, training online is the primary source for training. The hope is that this workbook will become available before the end of the year, but the bottom line is instructor-led training WILL resume once we have an adequate number of trainers prepared to contextualize the Safe Church, Safe Communities curriculum.
- If you’re interested in serving as a diocesan Safe Church training, please contact me so we can be in touch.
- In the meantime, administrators are welcome and encouraged to contact me to learn more about the opportunity to manage their own parishioners and volunteers in Praesidium Academy.
- If you trained prior to September 10, 2022 with the understanding that your training would be valid for five years, you will need to renew your training by the date that is three years from your last training in order to remain current. I understand this impacts many of you who would now no longer be certified under the 3-year update. Obviously, the ideal would be to renew your certification as soon as possible, but the diocese is allowing for a grace period to renew your training until November 1 for clergy and January 1 for lay people.
- If you are already a learner in Praesidium Academy, you received an email regarding an updated list of required courses. In case you missed it, the list will be shared below. I am trusting you will take this time to complete any modules you may still need.
- If your last training included modules from the old Safeguarding curriculum, it may be time to renew your training altogether. If you trained within the last year when the new content was being released, see what gaps need to be filled.
Updated Course Requirements
- Safe Church, Safe Communities: Introduction & Theological Background
- Safe Church, Safe Communities: Organizational Rules & Policies
- Safe Church, Safe Communities: Inclusion
- Safe Church, Safe Communities: Healthy Boundaries
- Duty to Report: Mandated Reporter (required for school staff and other mandated reporters; recommended for paid employees)
- any of the following units that are relevant to your ministry/context or included in the Specialized Training* required for your role:
- Safe Church, Safe Communities: Power & Relationships
- Safe Church, Safe Communities: Pastoral Relationships
- Safe Church, Safe Communities: Abuse & Neglect
- Safe Church, Safe Communities: Bullying
- Keeping Your School Safe (required for school staff and volunteers)
- Keeping Your Camp Safe (recommended for overnight and day camp leaders)
- Safeguarding God’s People: Preventing Sexual Harassment for Workers
- Safeguarding God’s People: Preventing Sexual Harassment for Managers & Supervisors
- Recognizing Abuse and Exploitation in Elder Serving Programs (recommended for Lay Eucharistic Visitors)
*While we haven’t officially adopted the language distinguishing ‘Universal’ and ‘Specialized’ training into our diocesan policies, I recommend completing courses now, if they apply to you, to avoid going back to complete them at a later date.
Safe Church, Safe Communities training is required for some but recommended for all. If you need to complete the training, I recommend notifying your parish/school Safe Church administrator first, but you may also request a Praesidium Academy account through our website.
The Episcopal Church now has a manager for Safe Church and Special Projects. The manager and her advising council are working together to continually refine screening, training, and auditing processes. I am in regular contact with the office and am making updates in accordance with their guidance.
Please be patient as I process the backlog of account requests and training completions. If you have submitted an account request and haven’t received further instruction, please check your spam and/or junk folders for an email from Praesidium Academy before following up (also, please do not send a second account request; I’d prefer that you reach out to your administrator or contact me directly).
I know this is a lot of information, and while I hope I’ve answered as many potential questions as possible, I’m not immune to blind spots. Try reaching out to your designated administrator first so they can contact me and make sure they have the most current information.
Again, I’m grateful for the patience and flexibility you have already exemplified. Thank you for bearing with me through these changes. At the end of the day, having the tools to create welcoming, safe environments for all people is absolutely worth it.
Canon for Youth and Lay Ministry
Canon for Youth and Lay Ministry
Tags: Safe Church Training