[updated April 2016]
In accordance with the UUCSS Religious Education Program’s mission statement, we are responsible for nurturing our children’s growth in spirit, mind, and body with the commitment to creating a safe and loving environment as well as fostering a sense of community with responsibility to self and others. These policies have been developed to provide guidelines, based on the RE Program’s mission statement, to offer moral and legal safeguards for our church community.
Screening of Volunteers
The volunteers who are assisting in the implementation of the RE Program can be members as well as non-members of UUCSS. While there is no specific requirement in terms of minimum length of church membership, all volunteers will be screened by the RE Program Committee or by one of its subcommittees, even if the volunteer will only be involved in a one-time event.
The volunteers will fill out a screening form which will state their name, address, and phone numbers, as well as questions about their interest areas for volunteer work, prior experience, and any record of criminal convictions which involved sexual or physical abuse. The selected volunteers will then be interviewed by at least two members of the congregation for the purpose of an informal orientation, interest areas of volunteer work, and prior experience. The RE Committee will keep all screening information on file to be available for the RE Director. The Volunteer Placement Committee will receive information on the volunteer’s area of interest for entry in the skills-and-interests database.
No person shall be eligible to supervise children or youth who has a history of crimes involving children.
Orientation and Training
Orientation will be provided for any new volunteers by the RE Director or his/her designee as part of the screening procedures.
The fall volunteer orientation, to be completed each year prior to the start of the church year program, shall include all volunteers who are expected to be involved in activities, which involve children and youth. The child safety component of the training shall include:
- Child Safety Policies
- Child Abuse Awareness and Procedures for Reporting
- Safety and Emergency Guidelines
It is required that two adults supervise children and youth during classroom, RE sponsored or childcare, activities. Teachers should contact the RE Director to facilitate adequate coverage in case there are not two adults available to carry out the activity. In case of activities with very low numbers of children (i.e., one or two), the teacher will designate a back-up person to fill the role of the second supervising adult. For childcare situations, a teenager may take the place of a second adult. The above screening, orientation, and training requirements will apply to the teenager.
Field Trips and Outside Activities
The RE Director must approve all field trips and activities requiring overnight arrangements which involve minors. Parental permission forms for minors containing emergency and medical information shall be required for any activity, which involves transportation and/or overnight arrangements. Before the event, the volunteers will receive a list of all participants. District wide programs occur under the authority of the district and therefore under its guidelines rather than those of our congregation.
Transportation may be provided by volunteers. Children under age four and less than 40 pounds must be transported in approved child safety seats, installed according to the manufacturer’s instruction.
The volunteer to child ratio on field trips must be as follows:
- Preschoolers: 1 adult for every 3 children
- Grades K to 6: 1 adult for every 5 children
- Grades 7 to 12: 1 adult for every 7 youth
A minimum of two adults at every event is required.
The volunteers and children or youth participating in activities requiring overnight arrangements will receive an orientation on the Rules for Overnight Accommodations, developed by the RE Committee, prior to the trip or event. The volunteers will be charged with the enforcement of these rules. At least one person with current first aid and CPR training must be in attendance on overnight events.
Qualified teenagers may act as drivers to church-sponsored events, but youth riding with them must have written permission from their parent.
Volunteers who are made aware of or suspect child abuse or have a concern about the child’s safety for himself or others must report this information to the RE Director or the Minister immediately. All volunteers and church employees are required by law to report suspected child abuse to the proper agency. The Board of Trustees must be informed immediately if a staff member is involved in suspected abuse, and the Board shall decide what action will be taken in respect to continuing staff responsibilities during the investigation.
Any information concerning suspected child abuse shall be kept in strict confidence.
Response Plan to Investigation of Suspected Abuse
In case a volunteer participating in RE and/or child care activities is subject to an investigation of suspected abuse by the appropriate agency, the Minister is responsible to inform the RE Director and the Board President about the investigation. The volunteer/s who are subject to any investigation will be relieved of their volunteer responsibilities by the RE Director, the Minister, or the Board President, pending the outcome of the investigation. Any information concerning the investigation shall be kept in strict confidence. After the completion of the investigation, the affected volunteer/s will participate in a re-screening process conducted by the RE Committee, as determined by the committee.
Other Policies Related to Child Safety
A first aid kit will be available and visibly accessible in each church building. On a monthly basis, these kits will be surveyed and any missing items will be replaced.
An emergency escape plan shall be posted in each room.
Accommodations in accordance with the American Disability Act will be made for volunteers, children and youth with disabilities.
Parents who expect medication to be administered by volunteers or staff must supply instructions in writing.
Vaccination Policy for Religious Education
In order to participate in UUCSS Religious Education (RE) classes, events and activities, all children and youth, eighteen and under, are required to be vaccinated in accordance with the schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Maryland. We believe in each individual’s right to choose whether to vaccinate their child(ren), but making such a choice will cause them to be excluded from UUCSS RE classes, events, and activities. All families wishing to participate in UUCSS RE classes, events, or activities will be required to verify compliance. We will allow participation from those with a medical exemption. Visitors who are not in compliance with our policy will be permitted to attend UUCSS RE classes, events, and activities on their first visit and will be informed that they must be in compliance on any future visit.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring
Religious Education Program
Confidential Volunteer Screening Form
For RE Activities With Children and Youth
This application must be completed by all volunteers who are supervising children or youth as part of UUCSS’s RE activities. The completion of this screening form complies with UUCSS Child Safety policies, which were established, to provide a safe and secure environment to those children and youth who participate in our program and use our facilities.
City: __________________Zip: __________ Telephone: __________
Do you have a current driver’s license: Yes __ No __
If yes, please list your license state and #: ______________________
Area of RE activities you are interested in: ____________________
Any training or prior experience in youth-related work:
Do you have any criminal convictions for physical or sexual abuse, or crimes involving children?
Yes __ No __
Name: _________________________________ Telephone: _____________
Name: _________________________________ Telephone: _____________
I understand that the information that I have provided may be verified, if necessary. I hereby release and agree to hold harmless from liability any person or organization that provides or receives information or references in connection with this application. I agree to participate in an orientation and training session.
Signature: _________________________________Date: _____________