A Message from The Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld
We often forget that the Church has an amplifying, magnifying, and intensifying effect on word, gesture, and touch. Read More...
About Safe Church
The Episcopal Church is deeply committed to fostering communities and congregations that are safe spaces for all children and adults to fully worship and minister, free of any kind of harassment, bullying, abuse, or exploitation.
To that end, the Episcopal Church has adopted model policies for safe church procedures and training. You can read about the development of these policies HERE. The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire has adopted the Model Policies of the Episcopal Church and all congregations in the diocese should adopt these policies as their own in 2019.
The Model Policy for the Protection of Children and Youth is here.
The Model Policy for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults is here.
An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document, located here, helps to understand the complex issues of Safe Church Policies and addresses fundamental questions such as: What are they? Why are they needed? What’s in them for me? Is there training to support the Model Policies?
In accordance with these policies, there are three basic requirements for church employees, volunteers working with youth, home visitors and church leaders: background checks; written application, interview and references for certain ministry positions; and safe church training. Canon Tina Pickering is the Safe Church Officer for the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, if you have any questions about policies or procedures or if you want to report a concern.
PLEASE NOTE: New Hampshire law (RSA 169-C, the Child Protection Act) mandates that any person who has reason to suspect that a child under the age of 18 has been abused or neglected must make a report to the Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), Child Protective Services at 1-800-894-5533 or 603-271-6562, intake lines are staffed 24 hours a day. If it is an emergency, call 911. For more information go to the Division for Children, Youth and Families website HERE.
Universal Safe Church Training:
Universal safe church training is required for church employees, volunteers working with youth, home visitors and church leaders. Certification of training shall be renewed every three years.
Each congregation has a safe church minister who can provide trainees with a unique ID and password they will need to access the program. Because the program uses video clips, broadband Internet access is essential. Completion of online training is required in order to attend the required in-person training session. You may register for the class yourself, or through your Safe Church Minister.
Background checks are required for church employees, volunteers working with youth, home visitors and church leaders. Background checks consist of two parts: a Secure Search Faith security screening to check national criminal databases and a New Hampshire criminal history record information request.
Secure Search Faith - Login in to Secure Search Faith HERE. New instructions for ordering background checks through Secure Search Faith are coming soon, and we will host a webinar for Safe Church Ministers. When ordering a report, choose the “Protection Package” - this package covers multi-state criminal records, SSN validation, and national sex offender lists. Other packages or additional options for background checks are available, but be aware that additional fees will apply.
NH Criminal History Record Information Request - These checks are conducted through the NH state police. Information can be found HERE. The person who is being checked must fill out a Criminal record release authorization form and submit it, along with a Reduced fee authorization form.
Monitoring and Supervision of Programs
During all church activities, a person will be designated responsible for monitoring and supervising adults, children and youth to ensure appropriate behavior and healthy boundaries. All people who minister to children and youth must have ongoing supervision, which shall consist of regular check ins by the Supervisor, who might be parish clergy or a designated team leader. Each person who serves should know who their supervisor is and how to contact them.
Dioceses and Congregations shall maintain and up-to-date list of persons with their contact information approved to minister to children and youth.