Cherryville Baptist Church
Responsible Initiative for a Safe Church
RECOMMENDED POLICY -- At its November 1997 meeting, the Board of Educational Ministries adopted a recommended policy for churches and regions to consider as they recruit and screen volunteers and staff who work with children, youth, and/or other vulnerable populations. The policy is not meant to deter persons from volunteering to do ministry with these age groups! Instead it is offered in the spirit of providing a safe environment for children and youth in our congregations. The recommended policy and related forms are included below:
Educational Ministries, Recommended Policy for Volunteers and Staff Who Work with Children, Youth or Other Vulnerable Populations in Regions or Local Churches
The Boards of Educational Ministries of the American Baptist Churches and Cherryville Baptist Church affirm the biblical witness that children are a blessing from God and that all people, whether children or adults, deserve the same compassionate regard we afford to ourselves. As followers of Jesus Christ we remember how Jesus rebuked those who would hinder or exclude children from his presence, and welcomed children as the hope and expression of the reign of God. We further acknowledge Christ's compassionate and gentle treatment of all vulnerable persons who sought his blessing. As a matter of faith and conviction, therefore, the Board of Educational Ministries and Cherryville Baptist Church undertake to safeguard the right and freedom of children, youth and other vulnerable persons to come into the presence of the Lord through the ministries of this organization without fear and with confidence in the promise of Christ-like care.
Cherryville Baptist Church (CBC) supports all efforts to curb and eliminate any form of abuse against any human being, as well as any living part of God's creation. CBC is especially concerned about the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of children, youth and other vulnerable populations. As part of CBC's ongoing work to provide a safe environment free from all forms of abuse for all children, youth and other vulnerable populations, CBC adopts the following guidelines for all CBC sponsored conferences and events.
Since 1984, churches and church organizations have been given notice that they can be liable for both staff and volunteers whom they hire or recruit who work with children and youth. Today, at least two per cent of all churches have been taken to court (sued) for the allegedly wrongful acts of church leaders and volunteers who work with children or youth. Screening and selecting staff and volunteers who work with children, youth or vulnerable populations presents problems and obstacles for those being recruited as well as for the organizations which do the recruiting. However, through careful interpretation of the need to conduct screening to protect our children, youth and other vulnerable populations, most prospective staff candidates and volunteers will comply with this minimal intrusion into their background.
Explanation of "Other Vulnerable Populations"
Children and youth deserve special care because their age, maturity level and still growing sense of self make them vulnerable to persuasion, coercion, undue influence, or physical control from those whom they see as being persons having power, authority or leadership over them. Likewise, certain adults deserve special care because of their particular vulnerabilities. The term "other vulnerable populations" is used to describe others who, although chronologically adults (over the age of eighteen (18)) may be particularly vulnerable to persuasion, coercion, undue influence, or physical control from those who have power, authority or leadership over them. For instance, persons with mental retardation should be considered part of a "vulnerable population." In addition, persons might be vulnerable due to age, disease, dementia, physical infirmity or mental infirmity. While these examples illustrate some of the adults who would potentially comprise a "vulnerable population," the examples are not intended to be an exhaustive or comprehensive list.
Two Levels of Screening
Cherryville Baptist Church will institute a screening process for any staff or volunteer who will work in any capacity with children, youth or other vulnerable populations. There are two levels of screening guidelines that will be followed when screening prospective staff or volunteers who will work with children, youth or other vulnerable populations:
Level-1 This level of screening is more extensive and will be used for staff or volunteers who will have long-term or ongoing contact with children, youth or other vulnerable populations in one-on-one situations.
Level-2 This level of screening is less extensive and may be utilized for staff and volunteers whose duties will involve infrequent direct contact or contact only in group settings with children, youth or other vulnerable populations.
After the church makes a determination as to which level of screening should be performed, the following steps should be taken.
For Staff or Volunteers who require Level 1 screening
a. A criminal records search needs to be performed. This will be done by contacting NJ State Police or Franklin Township Police and requesting that this information be provided to you. CBC may also contact the FBI to request a national criminal records search. The cost for either of these searches is minimal. CBC may also utilize private organizations that will perform similar services at minimal costs. The staff candidate or potential volunteer will sign a release form that states they-have given permission for the criminal records search to be performed, (Exhibit A)
b. The "6-month rule" will be adhered to. This rule states that a person who has not been an active member or active participant of CBC for at least 6 months should not be considered for the leadership role in any staff or volunteer position related to children, youth or other vulnerable population.
For Example: The Lead Teacher of a Sunday School class will have had to have been an active member/participant for the 6 months, but the Assistant Teacher will not need to meet this 6 month rule...The Leader of Games during our VBS week will have had to have been an active member/participant for the 6 months, but those working with this individual will not need to meet this 6 month rule...
*Please note that all volunteers will need to have a RISC file completed.
c. Staff and volunteers will fill out an application form. The application form will include personal information (such as address and telephone number) as well as their education and employment history. (Exhibit A)
d. The staff or volunteer will provide to CBC the names of three professional or personal references who are not related to them. These persons will be contacted either by telephone or in writing to verify the volunteer's education, employment history and/or to serve as a character reference. (Inducted in Exhibit A)
e. CBC will provide training before the staff or volunteer assumes his or her responsibilities, and throughout his or her tenure.
f. CBC will maintain a comprehensive file on each staff or volunteer that includes all information that was produced during the screening process (i.e., application, notes on reference checks, criminal records search, waiver form, and training received). This file will be maintained in accordance with the privacy law of the stats of NJ.
For Staff or Volunteers who may require Level 2 screening
Steps (b) through (f listed above should be followed for Level 2 staff and volunteers. Step (a), conducting a criminal records search, does not need to be performed for those individuals who will not be having one-on-one contact with children, youth or other vulnerable populations, or who would only have infrequent contact with children, youth or other vulnerable populations.
NOTE: These guidelines will be followed whenever staffer volunteers who work with children, youth or other vulnerable populations are being selected.
No prospective child, youth or other vulnerable population staff or volunteer should be utilized if they fail to pass the investigative steps listed above.
(Supported by the American Baptist Resolution on the Church and Child Care, the American Baptist Policy Statement on the Educational Mission of the Church, the American Baptist Policy Statement on Family Life, and the American Baptist Resolution Against Sexual Exploitation of Children. Adopted by the Board of Educational Ministries 11/22/97.)