Safeguarding is an important topic that can quickly become overwhelming. The Synod is here to help walk you through this all important subject.
Below are helpful hints to get you started specifically for ministry to young people. We strongly encourage you to NOT go this alone!
Almost everything you need to know about developing a Best Practices Safeguarding System is posted here on the Synod website.
*When developing a Best Practices Safeguarding System for your congregation it is important that you seek professional advice. Both your congregational attorney and insurance agent should be brought into the process. Before implementing any system run your documents by both your attorney and your insurance agent. Do not proceed with implementing any safeguarding system without their approval.
First…Know the Law
On March 22, 2001, Amended Ohio Senate Bill 187 became law (Ohio Revised Code sections 109.574-577, 121.401, 121.402). The legislation’s purpose is to help ensure that youth-serving organizations that place volunteers in positions requiring “unsupervised access to children on a regular basis” use appropriate screening methods.Churches are required to adhere to Amended Ohio Senate Bill 187.
Personal Story: In the church where I serve as Youth Ministry Coordinator it was decided that the church should make sure that it was doing everything necessary to protect children and youth at church-sponsored events.
We also wanted to make sure that the congregation itself was taking the necessary steps to be protected from potential lawsuits.
Could our congregational attorney represent us well in a court of law? Would our insurance company cover the church financially if need be?
Where we doing our due diligence in keeping our young people safe?
It was time to find out.
I quickly learned that some work needed to be done.
This site is not giving legal advice; however, it is highly recommended that you take the following steps…
- Contact the Youth Ministry Church Coach (Gary) and inform him of your congregations desire to create or update your safeguarding system. NOTE: Your congregation legally needs to have a Best Practice Safeguarding System for working in minors in place.
- Obtain the Southern Ohio Synod Step by Step Guide for “Creating a Congregational Best Practice Safeguarding System Regarding Minors.” Click Here: Step by Step Guide for Creating a Congregational Best Practices Safeguarding System Regarding Minors
- Create a Safety Team (See the Step by Step Guide above)
- Obtain the Amended Ohio Senate Bill 187 Revised Codes. Note, the revised codes are full of legalize. Unless you have a mind for the law, reading the revised codes will only confuse you. That’s what your congregational attorney is for. Click Here: Ohio Revised Codes
- Obtain the Ohio Community Service Council “Best Practices” Document. This document is much more understandable…but same, reading it may only confuse you…yep, attorney time.
Click Here: Ohio Community Service Council Best Practices Document
- Find out the name of your congregational insurance agent
- Obtain safeguarding materials from your congregational insurance company. Most insurance companies have a best practices safeguarding kit they will be happy to send to you.
- Find out the name of your congregational attorney. If you do not have one ask yourself the question…“If our congregation received a sexual misconduct allegation today who would we call?” Secure an attorney now. Ask, “If our congregation received a sexual misconduct allegation would you be willing to represent us?”
- Next, look through the links below to find other pertinent information on safeguarding
- Remember…Do not proceed with implementing any Best Practice Safeguarding System without the approval of your congregational attorney and insurance agent.
Specifics pertaining to background checks…
- Ask your insurance agent in what circumstances they wish for you to background check staff and volunteers.
- Ask your insurance provider which background check provider they wish for your congregation to use.
- Note that the Synod is required to recommend that background checks include fingerprinting and be run through the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII). If you do this your congregation will be immune from civil liability.
- Ask your insurance provider how often they require your congregation to rerun background checks on staff and volunteers
- Note: Background Checks are site-specific. The church must run a background check specifically on individuals working with children and youth in your congregation.
*Consider viewing the following Safeguarding Powerpoint
**If you find it all too confusing. Give me (Gary) a call at 614-714-3157 (ext 5). I would be happy to talk you through the details.
Safeguarding children and congregations makes sense for us all!
More Safeguarding Resources
- An Assortment of Safety Resources from Church Mutual
- How Safe is Your Ministry Survey
- Good Insurance Questions to Ask
- Church Mutual Authorized Best Practices Safeguarding System Template
- Example Handbook of Best Practices
- Supplemental Ideas to a Basic Best Practices Document
- Church Mutual Thoughts on Mission Trips and Safety
- Thinking Through Trips Travel and Emergencies
- Social Media and Technology Covenant–Adult
- Social Media and Technology Covenant–Youth
- Who is Your Spokes Person to The Media?
- ELCA Thoughts on Sexual Abuse
- ELCA How Congregations Can Prevent Sexual Abuse
- ELCA Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practices
- ELCA Healing in Congregations After Sexual Abuse
Additional Church Mutual Authorized Forms
Please Note: It is recommended that you contact your congregational insurance company to see if they have similar authorized safeguarding forms for your congregational use. Only use the forms from Church Mutual if your insurance company does not provide the following…
For Additional Forms Relating to Working with Volunteers, Children and Youth visit the “Forms” section of this website
One final thought…Note that sexual misconduct accusations are occurrence-based. Meaning, that your insurance company at the time of the incident is who you will be dealing with. Make careful note to maintain copies of all past and present insurance policies.