Volunteer Screening Program
Strengthening our parish communities is a core standard of care embraced by all clergy, religious orders of clerics, sisters and brothers, employees and volunteers working in the parishes and ministries of the Diocese of Calgary. The core standard of care involves policies and procedures designed to create and maintain a safe environment in our parishes and programs. It also includes a Model Code of Conduct that must be embraced by all those who make up the personnel of the Diocese.
This core standard of care includes assessing all activities in parishes and ministries of the Diocese to identifying all positions especially those which could put children, youth or other vulnerable persons at risk of being harmed. The goal at all times is the protection and safety of our children, our vulnerable people, our volunteers, our clergy, religious, employees and our Church. Thus, it is a permanent policy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary that all positions are assessed, assigned appropriate risk levels and that appropriate screening and management practices are maintained consistently throughout the Diocese.
In 2011, Bishop Henry asked all parishes in the Diocese, approximately 88 in all, to implement a new program entitled, CALLED TO PROTECT. The major component of this program is the Volunteer Screening Program.
Each ministry in the Diocese has the responsibility to follow a practice called Duty of Care which is a legal principle. It identifies the obligations of individuals and organizations to take reasonable measures to care for and protect those who participate in their programs.
The purpose of the Volunteer Screening Program is essentially to assist ministries in the Parish to better provide this safe and positive environment by practising due diligence and using best practices in the coordination and management of volunteers. This, in both the short and long term, will benefit everyone, particularly our children and those most vulnerable.
There are, to date, 21 ministries at St. Patrick’s. In total, there are approximately 240 volunteers who occupy 306 volunteer positions.
Overall, the ministries have been divided into three categories: Low Risk, Medium Risk and High Risk with different screening requirements for each Risk Level.
The basic process is as follows. Two main forms need to be completed. The first, an Information Form, assists the Parish to maintain an up-to-date registry of all volunteers. It is necessary to know where volunteers are active and twice a year the diocese is asking the Parish to forward the numbers of all active volunteers to Calgary. The second form, The Agreement to the Model Code of Conduct, creates awareness and expresses the essence of how the diocese would like those representing the diocese and parish to conduct themselves while performing their responsibilities. For those volunteers under 18 years of age, Parental Consent forms will be asked for. Interviews are required for those in Medium and High Risk ministries. In addition, for High Risk volunteers only, a Police Information Check is to be completed, at no charge to the volunteer, which is good for a 5 year period.
Statistics indicate that there is a 10% increase in volunteers in a year after screening has been implemented because there is better recruitment, more awareness and more people step up to the plate.
For further information on the Volunteer Screening Program, connect to the Diocesan website at www.calgarydiocese.ca.
Ministry Risk Levels at St. Patrick’s
Bible Study Coordinator
Baptismal Preparation Coordinator
Extraordinary Minister of Communion
Finance Council Chairperson
Finance Council Member
Funeral Vigil Coordinator
Funeral Vigil Member
Liturgical Hospitality Coordinator
Liturgy Hospitality Ministers-Greeters and Ushers
Maintenance Committee Coordinator
Maintenance Committee Member
Marriage Preparation Coordinator
Marriage Preparation Facilitator
Pastoral Council Chairperson
Pastoral Council Member
Altar Server Coordinator
Collection Counter Coordinator
Extraordinary Minister of Communion Coordinator
Extraordinary Minister of Communion to Homes/Institutions
Legion of Mary Coordinator
Legion of Mary Member
Liturgy of the Word for Children Coordinator
Liturgy of the Word for Children Team Member
Pastoral Care Coordinator
Pastoral Care Visitor
Sacramental Preparation Coordinator
Sacramental Preparation Team Member
Volunteer Screening Coordinator
Volunteer Screening FAQs
After volunteering for so many years why do I have to go through this screening process, particularly when nothing has ever happened in all my volunteer experience?
Times are changing. Screening is not something that is an option. The degree of screening that must be done will depend upon the duties you do. The church cannot go on gut feel—which people need screening and who does not. It is something that must be done by all. We have to start somewhere and have everyone screened. A great portion of the screening that new volunteers will have to go through is being waived for current volunteers. Screening is not only designed to protect the church, it also protects the volunteer. Insurance companies are starting to insist on screening of volunteers.
I read an article and the Bishop of Hamilton said this: “Our Lord Jesus encourages us to care for others. Throughout the Diocese of Hamilton many volunteers assist in a wide range of activities and services. It is expected that those who volunteer wish only to help and serve with love, and not to do harm. Experience has shown that this is true in the vast majority of people who generously offer their time, energy, skills and resources. Some people, however, may seek out the vulnerable to exploit or abuse them. Organizations that do not have established screening procedures cannot fully protect their volunteers and those whom they serve. For this reason, it is important to develop, adopt and implement thorough, appropriate, consistent and on-going screening measures according to established procedures.”
(From the website www.stpaultheapostleburlington.com)
What good is signing some forms going to do?
Screening is fundamentally about making decisions and judgments; however, these actions should be based on clear principles and values, and backed by consistently applied policies and procedures. Like most forms of insurance, screening is intended to prevent the problem that likely won’t occur. However, screening addresses the reality that it is possible a person could seek an organization with the intent of stealing money, property, or harming people.
Increasingly, if a volunteer harms a participant and your organization has created or permitted a situation that results in harm, the courts are holding non-profit and charitable organizations accountable for their volunteers’ actions. The forms very clearly lay out the policies and procedures of what you can and can not do and by signing the screening forms you endorse these policies and procedures. It is like a contract that you will follow and abide by them.
I feel insulted and not appreciated by being asked to fill out these forms and for being asked to get a police check!
The forms make a firm commitment between the church and the volunteer. A police record check (at no cost to the volunteer) is only for high risk applicants who may be in a position of trust, working with vulnerable persons, dealing with confidential material. A great deal of trust is placed in the volunteers but checks and balances must also be put in place to keep both the volunteer and the church safe. We have an obligation to the congregation to ensure we have done everything possible to keep them safe. Try not to think of it as insulting or not being appreciated but rather the church is being pro-active completing the checks prior in order to limit the chances of something happening in the future.