Protecting the Vulnerable

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Mandatory Reporting of Child or Elder Abuse

CHILD ABUSE: 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.  

ELDER ABUSE: The Adult Protection Law requires any person who has a reason to believe that an vulnerable adult has been subjected to abuse, neglect, exploitation or self-neglect to make a report immediately to the Bureau of Elderly & Adult Services (BEAS). Call (603) 271-7014 or toll Free from within NH at (800) 949-0470. If it is an emergency, call 911. For more information go to the Division for Adult Protective Services website HERE.

If you have any questions about policies or procedures, please contact Canon Tina Pickering, who is the Safe Church Officer for the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, at tpickering@nhepiscopal.org or 603-224-1914.

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 the Protection of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults. 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 four main requirements for congregations to follow:

  • making sure that required criminal background checks are completed every 5 years.

  • making sure that there is written application, interview and references for certain ministry positions.

  • making sure universal safe church training is available to those for whom it is required every 3 years.

  • making sure that those who are serving in the congregation know who is supervising their ministry and how to contact them with concerns.

A chart of “who needs what” can be found HERE.

Universal Training

Universal training is required for church employees, volunteers working with youth, home visitors and church leaders. Certification of training shall be renewed every three years. Training will consist of required online modules and one reflection webinar.

Online training modules are provided through the SafeGuarding Online program sponsored by Church Pension Group in partnership with Praesidium and can be found at www.safeguardingonline.org. There are a variety of modules available that you can watch, but certain modules will be required.

Please click HERE for a list of modules required for both initial safe church training and for training renewal.

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. Safe Church ministers can also consider hosting a group viewing of any of the modules.

Once participants have viewed the online modules, they should register to participate in one reflection webinar with Canon Tina Pickering. This 45 minute webinar will substitute for live training and is required. These webinars are available on a quarterly basis.

Click HERE to register for a Reflection Webinar (coming soon!)

Background Checks

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 an instructional 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 - Information can be found HERE.

These checks are conducted through the NH state police. . 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.

Disaster Preparedness and Active Shooter Response

Churches throughout the diocese are encouraged to prepare for the possibility of a disaster in your community or at your place of worship. Resources for disaster planning and active shooter preparedness can be found here:

Episcopal Relief and Development Disaster Planning

FEMA - Resources for Protecting Houses of Worship

If you are interested in organizing a regional training, please contact Canon Tina Pickering or the NH Council of Churches.