This section includes important information on how to create and maintain a safe environment for youth ministry activities. Our efforts to ensure the safety of young people include a variety of components: background checks, training for adults, training for young people, reviewing best practices for youth activities, prudent decision making about potential volunteers, liability and medical release forms, and driver safety.

Diocesan Policy on the Protection of Children/Young People and Prevention of Sexual Misconduct and/or Child Abuse is a twenty-five page document that can be found at (www.arlingtondiocese.org/Child-Protection/policy-child-protection-smca.pdf) along with all other important forms from the Office of Child Protection and Safety. You should be familiar with this document and have a copy of it for reference as it provides valuable information regarding procedures in the case of an allegation. Your parish is responsible for downloading updated copies of this document for you to distribute to all new volunteers within your program. An adult volunteer or employee may not begin service until they are fully compliant with the requirements of the Office for the Protection of Children/Young People (OPCYP). Information about what comprises full compliance is found within the Notification of Child Protection Policy, OPCYP Compliance Requirements and Mandatory Training & Checklist of Paperwork for Volunteers in OPCYP Compliance Packet sections of this chapter.

In addition to protecting young people you should also take measures to protect yourself. It is important to follow the necessary steps to prevent unfounded claims on behalf of a young person. Following the Code of Conduct for Church Personnel and Volunteers found in this chapter, will allow you to operate safely while creating a fruitful environment for youth ministry.

Although we can never completely remove risk, there are certainly steps we can make to reduce problematic situations and to create a safe and healthy environment. Enclosed is some information from the Diocesan Office of Risk Management, as well as sample permission slips and release forms for various circumstances.

As a youth worker in the Diocese of Arlington, you should make yourself quite familiar with all of the information below.

May we always keep the safety of young people as a top priority in our ministries, and may God bless us with good health and safety at all of our events!