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Safe Environment Overview

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Safe Environment Overview

Office of Safe Environment

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.


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  Office in the implementation of the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Background Screening of Clergy, 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 with direct, ongoing, contact 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. 

  • All Priests and Deacons are live scanned fingerprinted and cleared through the Department of Justice and the FBI. No faculties are given to any priest who is not live scanned and cleared for the Diocese of Oakland. 
  • 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. 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 in the Virtus data base on the volunteers profile.
  • Megan’s Law Screening is mandated annually for all volunteers.  Megan's Law clearance for each volunteer is entered in the volunteers Virtus profile. 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 clergy, 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.  Pre registration online 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 by the individuals 3 year renewal date.
  • 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 or the Benziger Family Life Series; or the online Virtus Teaching safety program.

  • Teach the curriculum to the students by the parish/school deadline of November 1 each year
  • Documentation is done for each parish and school on the Virtus website each year no later November 30.

 Safe Environment Coordinators

Each parish/school will have a designated Safe Environment Coordinator. The Site Coordinator is to oversee and account for the site compliance of the Safe Environment requirements on an annual basis. 

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, all school faculty and staff 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)