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Safe Environment Overview

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Safe Environment Overview

Safe Environment Project

The Oakland Diocese is dedicated to ensuring a culture that is safe, open, welcoming and protective of all people; especially our children and vulnerable adults. You can download a copy of the Diocesan Code of Conduct with Minors or in Spanish Política de comportamiento y lineamientos para el ministerio con menores de edad  para la Diócesis de Oakland, Primero.

The following section provides an overview and details the safeguards and requirements in place to guide this project.

 Background

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth requires that Diocese/eparchies establish “safe environment” programs. Article 12 of the Charter states:

“Diocese/eparchies will establish “safe environment” programs. They will cooperate with parents, civil authorities, educators, and community organizations to provide education and training for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators, and others about ways to make and maintain a safe environment for children. Dioceses/eparchies will make clear to clergy and members of the community the standards of conduct for clergy and other persons in positions of trust with regard to sexual abuse.”

In addition, Article 13 states:

“Dioceses/eparchies will evaluate the background of all diocesan/eparchial and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. Specifically, they will utilize the resources of law enforcement and other community agencies.”

Diocese of Oakland implementation of the Charter

The following are the components of the Diocese of Oakland’s Safe Environment  Project in the implementation of the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Background Screening of Employees and Volunteers

The Diocese of Oakland requires that all employees undergo a background check through LiveScan fingerprinting and receive clearance prior to beginning employment or volunteering. All Clergy, Diocesan chancery employees and School/Parish employees must be cleared through DOJ and FBI.  Volunteers who deal directly with children or vulnerable adults are to be fingerprinted as well and receive DOJ clearance. This includes parent volunteers at Diocesan schools and parish sites. 

  • Livescan fingerprinting of a school or parish employee is to be completed at the beginning of employment at a Diocesan site.  Parishes and/or schools must receive clearance notification from the Diocese PRIOR to beginning employment. Once an employee is cleared through the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), fingerprinting never needs to be repeated and the employee may work on any parish or school in the Diocese. Diocesan clearance forms are to  be included in employee personnel files.
  • Livescan fingerprinting of volunteers who work directly with minors or vulnerable adults for the parish and/or school is required.  Parishes and/or schools must receive clearance notification from the Diocese PRIOR to beginning volunteer ministry.  Once a volunteer is cleared through the California Department of Justice (DOJ) fingerprint clearance does not need to be repeated for any volunteer ministry in the Diocese of Oakland. Clearance dates are to be kept at the site and may be kept electronically for volunteers.
  • Megan’s Law Screening is mandated for all volunteers on an annual basis.  A verification report of this screening is due in the Safe Environment Office by October 31st of each year. The Megan's Law website may be accessed by going to www.MegansLaw.ca.gov. If  a volunteer or employee comes up as a registered sex offender, please call Diana Bitz 510-267-8315, SE Coordinator,  for follow up protocol and procedures.

 Training for Employees and Volunteers

The Diocese of Oakland requires that all employees and volunteers be trained to recognize and respond to the signs of abuse, to be informed of the reporting procedures and to learn how to safeguard the children and vulnerable adults in their care. Training is available thru VIRTUS and can be done online or at a live training.  Registration for either is mandatory.  Trainings are available in Spanish and English. 

To register for either an online or on site course in English, click here 

To register for either an online or on site course in Spanish click here

To view current live trainings and register for a live training, click here

  • Training is required at the beginning of employment or volunteer position. Retraining is required every three years per the diocesan calendar. First time training is the basic Protect Children course. Retraining can include any of the adult courses on Shield the Vulnerable.
  • The online course will issue a certificate upon completion. This information is given to the site coordinator.

Children's Curriculum

The Diocese of Oakland requires that all children and youth (K to 12) receive age-appropriate curriculum through Parish Faith Formation and Youth Programs, or through Catholic School programs. Curriculum focuses on the areas of personal safety with an emphasis on abuse prevention. The school-based curriculum will be more in-depth and will cover safety issues related to a school setting. The parish-based curriculum will be limited in scope primarily because of time constraints in such programs. The Approved children's curriculum for the Diocese is Circle of Grace.

  • Teach the curriculum to the students by the parish/school deadline of February 28 each year.
  • Provide documentation to the Safe Environment Office upon completion of curriculum component.

 Safe Environment Coordinators

Each parish/school will have a designated Safe Environment Coordinator.  We also encourage committees to be established in each parish with the primary goal of assisting the pastor in ensuring safe environments for children. This committee is facilitated by the site Safe Environment Coordinator. The Site Coordinator is to oversee and account for the site compliance of the Safe Environment requirements on an annual basis.  The site coordinator is the liaison to the Safe Environment office for the Diocese.

Employees and volunteers are to be aware of the reporting procedures for suspected abuse.  There are persons deemed mandated reporters and others called ethical reporters.  The Pastor, priests and deacons, professional lay ministers (i.e. DRE's, youth ministers, volunteers who act in a supervisory capacity during activities with children, youth and vulnerable adults, to name a few) are considered Mandated Reporters.   Other persons who suspect abuse of any kind are ethically and morally responsible for reporting.

  • Have all employees who work directly with children and youth and are mandated reporters sign the Child Abuse Reporting and Acknowledgement form yearly. Place in personnel files. (Appendix 4005)
  • Ensure that all mandated reporters know how to report an allegation of child abuse and that they know where the reporting forms and phone numbers are on your site.
  • Publicize to parishioners/school families the policies and procedures related to the Charter. (parish bulletins, school bulletins, announcements at Mass/meetings, brochures, posters in the church vestibule, etc)