Our Lady of the Valley Church Plan to Implement the Safe Environment Policy
for the Protection of Children
Diocese of San Bernardino

I           Introduction:

II         Code of Pastoral Conduct

Our Lady of the Valley parish is committed to the dissemination of the policies of Code of Pastoral Conduct required by the Diocese of San Bernardino. All employees of the parish, this includes clergy, religious and laity; all volunteers in ministries in contact with children as well as non-parish groups associated with our church who have regular contact with children are included and actively participate in the implementation of these policies. Also, the community at large is informed through the bulletin and pulpit announcements about reporting and obtaining assistance.

III        Training

            A.        Target Groups-
Employees: Priests (3) and lay employees (15)
Catechists and catechist aides (60 aprox.)
Jovenes Para Christo child-caregivers
Altar Server coordinators
Youth Choir coordinators
Boy Scout Troop 310 adults working with the children.

            B.        Training Curriculum
Safe Environment certification – on-line or on-site class
Mandated Reported certification– on-line or on-site class
Code of Pastoral Conduct workshop – on-line or on-site class
Virtus program – parents in the Religious Education program

Virtus program - children and minors participating in the religious education
Virtus program - youth ministry members

            C.        Methods
Various methods are utilized to implement these policies. In the past the training was on-site only and fingerprint live scans were used for background checks. Now on-line training is available though the diocesan website and on-line screening is used for background checks.
                                                -Background screening
                                                -On-line training
                                                -On-site training at various diocesan locations
                                                -Classroom training for parents of children in religious education
                                                -Classroom training for children in religious education

            D.        Resources
We follow the direction of the Diocese of San Bernardino and all resources are provided to us by the diocese. Examples of resources are the training for facilitators “Train the Trainer”, materials and guidelines for background checks, software for tracking the status of compliance, facilitation of all pertinent information, updates and software to access training on-line and on-site workshops throughout the diocese, videos and printed materials for the training of children and their parents in the religious education program. Also, workshops for parish leadership to learn the policies and guidelines are available.

            E.         Documentation
The Business Manager is the person designated to enforce the policies at the parish level. All records of live scans, documentation of background screenings, Safe Environment/Code of Pastoral Conduct training and Mandated Reported training is kept in this office. The Coordinator of Religious Education enforces the policies pertaining to children and parents in the program. The CRE also assists in the processing and training of all catechist and catechist aides and compiles the information and submits if to the Business Manager. In turn, all parish reports and diocesan reports are completed by this office. In coordination with the diocese, information is corroborated and maintained current.

IV        Background checks
All employees, religious and laity are required a live scan/screening background check and meet all criteria before they start their job/ministry. Additionally, all volunteers 18 of age and older who supervise or assist when minors are present must have a current satisfactory live scan/screening background check on file.

V         Supervision of Minors
All minors in parish activities when parents are absent from the activity, are required to have on file a permission slip or registration completed by parent and an emergency card. All minors must be supervised by at least two adults. It is permissible for young adults (under 18 of age) to work with children in addition to the two primary supervisors. When children need to leave the main room of their activity, they must be accompanied by one of their supervisors or with another child from their same group. All rooms where children are gathered, windows must not be obstructed from outside view and doors unlocked.

Overnight activities
Overnight activities are permissible in the diocese however, here at Our Lady of the Valley it is our Pastor’s preference not to authorize overnight activities including children. No overnight activities including youth will be approved on parish grounds neither at other sites such as hotels or retreat camps.

VI        Parish Plan
The parish plan is created as a reflection of the diocesan policies and the specific guidelines recommended by our pastor at Our Lady of the Valley. Our parish Safe Environment for Children Committee is formed by Fr. Wayne T. Epperley, Administrator; Ivonne Ramirez, Business Manager; Gustavo Lemus, Coordinator of Religious Education and Allie Ibarra, Cordinator for Youth.

The pastor oversees and supports the implementation of the plan.

The Business Manager implements the plan, tracks progress, keeps records and
completes reports.

The Coordinator of Religious Education is responsible for the implementation of the plan at the Religious Education level. Making sure all catechists/aides adhere to the
policies is very important since they conform the majority of the volunteers in contact with children.

The Youth Coordinator is responsible for implementing the plan with the youth and ensures that all aspects of the plan are in compliance at all times.

The parish plan is available upon request at the Business Manager’s office.

VII      Accountability
The Safe Environment for Children committee is ultimately responsible for the implementation of the parish plan. The group of ministry with volunteers in contact with children shares responsibility in the protection of children and in compliance in general. Each group and ministry coordinator is directly responsible for the adherence of their members to the policies. Group/ministry coordinators with children are fully informed of these policies and must report any changes of member in contact with children to insure we are always in 100 % compliance. Most reports are due to the diocese in June and USCCB audits to the diocese are conducted in November every year.

The leadership at Our Lady of the Valley parish takes these policies very seriously. We believe that safeguarding our precious children should never be compromised and every effort should be made to prevent any type of neglect of abuse. At the same time, protecting the parish from liability and loss is a matter of good stewardship.

Parish Plan for Our Lady of the Valley Church to implement the Diocese of San Bernardino’s Safe Environment Policy for the Protection of Children.

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