Safety Policy

First United Methodist Church Pflugerville (PFUMC, PfUMC Tomorrow)

Rio Texas Conference, Capital District

Definitions:

A. Abuse: is any deliberate act that inflicts bodily or emotional harm to a Participant. Abuse includes: (a) the infliction of physical or emotional injury by other than accidental means; (b) the creation of a risk, or allowing the creation of risk, to a Participant by other than accidental means; (c) committing or allowing to be committed an act of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation, or prostitution upon the Participant.

B. Adult Leader: is any person including any paid employee, volunteer, clergy, or lay person in the conference, district, or local church who has the responsibility for the care and Supervision of a Participant at an event. Adult Leaders shall no longer be in High School.

C. Applicant: is any person 18 years of age or older seeking to become an Adult Leader in a local church or for a district or conference event.

D. Assistant Leader: is any person 16 years of age or older who has been through the application and safety certification process, but does not qualify for a background check. These are still considered to be Participants and cannot fill the role of a mandatory Adult Leader.

E. Day Ministry Event: is a local church, conference, district sponsored activity, or occasion that involves a gathering and care of Participants during the hours of 7:00am-10:00pm, and does not occur for more than four hours per day in duration of four or more consecutive days.

F. Exploitation: is obtaining or using another person's income, assets, or possessions with the intent to deprive the person of those resources.

G. Neglect: is failure to provide nutrition, medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the well-being of the Participants.

H. Overnight/Extended Hour Ministry Event: a local church, conference, or district sponsored activity, or occasion that involves a gathering and care of Participants for more than four hours per day in duration of four consecutive days or involves an overnight stay.

I. Participant: is a Child, Youth, or Vulnerable Adult that is registered, enrolled, attending, or otherwise participating in an event or activity sponsored by the annual conference, a district, or a local church in the Rio Texas Conference.

1. Child: is any person 11 years of age or younger.

2. Youth: is a person 12-17 years of age.

3. Vulnerable Adult: persons over 18 years of age with physical, mental, and/or developmental disabilities.

J. Prostitution: to engage in, to offer to engage, or to force a Participant to engage in sexual contact by either soliciting or receiving a fee or other benefit.

K. Rule of Three: The presence of two unrelated Adult Leaders at all ministry events involving Participants. Any engagement with a Participant requires the presence of two Adult Leaders.

L. Sexual Abuse: is any sexual contact, sexually explicit language, gestures, or images directed to a Participant.

M. Sexual Exploitation: is any deliberate act that allows or encourages a Participant to engage in an act of obscene or pornographic photography, filming, or depiction of a Participant as prohibited under Texas law.

N. Supervision: is the leadership role of a person who is in charge of a group of Participants, giving direction, setting boundaries, disciplining appropriately, maintaining safety and being the leader in all situations.

Statement of Policy

These procedures are adopted by the PFUMC and are to be reviewed annually by the Staff - Parish Relations Committee. It will be used to guide all PFUMC events beginning September, 2018. These procedures are in accordance with the Rio Texas Conference Child, Youth, and Adult Safety Policy adopted by the Annual Conference in June 2018.

SAFE MINISTRY MANDATES

All church ministry events must provide adequate Supervision from Adult Leaders.

A. All ministry events with Participants shall follow the Rule of Three with a minimum of one Adult Leader for every eight Participants.

B. Any one-to-one mentoring or consulting shall be conducted in sight of another Adult Leader.

C. Adult Leaders and Assistant Leaders working with children and youth must be at least five years older than the oldest Participants with whom they work.

D. Assistant Leaders must work under the Supervision of two Adult Leaders.

E. Overnight Ministry Events

1. Co-ed Overnight Ministry Events require co-ed Adult Leaders.

2. Sleeping accommodations shall include sleeping distance of no less than three feet between Adult Leaders, Assistant Leaders, and Participants.

3. Every Participant shall have a completed medical release and parental/legal guardian permission form before they will be permitted to participate at any Overnight Ministry Event.

F. Travel

1. Only Adult Leaders will be permitted to drive Participants to ministry events. Drivers must be:

a. 21 years or older

b. have a valid driver’s license

c. proof of insurance at the state’s minimum limits

d. not be otherwise disqualified from driving (i.e., under medication, impaired, etc.).

2. Written permission from a parent/legal guardian is required for events requiring transportation to and from the event location.

G. Phone, video, and online communication:

1. Adult Leaders must notify parents/legal guardians before requesting access, friending, texting, contacting a Participant via social media, or using any other form of online phone/video communication.

2. Using the Rule of Three, all group or social media communications must include two Adult Leaders who serve as administrators/moderators. All groups must be closed, private, and shall require the site administrator’s approval to join.

H. Adult Leaders shall not photograph Participants for use on internet or in print media without written permission of parent/legal guardian. A Social Media best practice resource will be provided by the Mission Vitality Center of the Conference and followed.

IMPLEMENTATION: SCREENING, TRAINING, AND ACCOUNTABILITY

A. SCREENING

1. Adult Leaders and Assistant Leaders shall submit an application for ministry along with three (work, volunteer, or ministry) references.

2. Applicants should be active in the local church/ministry for a minimum of six months prior to the event or provide additional references affirming their positive leadership with Participants in another ministry setting. In the case of new staff hires, references deemed adequate by the hiring supervisor will replace the six-month waiting period. In the case of Adult Ministry Leaders or Assistant Leaders, previous ministry experience within the Rio Texas Conference may be transferred in lieu of the six-month waiting period pending approval of Rio Texas Conference office.

3. References shall be checked by conference, district, or local church staff responsible for Applicants.

4. Adult Leaders shall:

a. Submit a signed authorization form for a criminal background screening to be completed by the Rio Texas Conference office every two years. This will include a signed statement that they are not aware of any allegations that would prevent them from working with Participants.

b. If results of the screening raise questions about fitness of the Applicant, the Rio Texas Conference office shall disapprove the application and notify the event leader and/or local church. Results of criminal background screenings shall be kept confidential. Applicants can request that the conference office share the results of their criminal background screening with another district or local church in the Rio Texas Conference via a signed request authorization form.

B. TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION

All Adult Leaders and Assistant Leaders must be certified for their work at conference, district, and local church events. Certification includes:

1. Evaluation of and submission of the local church, district, or event policy every year.

2. Completion of Abuse prevention training every year.

3. Safety Certification every two years. Certification will include the following modules:

a. Overview of Rio Texas Conference policy.

b. Abuse prevention.

c. Creating safe spaces, best practices for ministry, sexual ethics and appropriate leader behavior.

d. Overnight/extended hour ministry training.

e. The certification process will be designed by the Rio Texas Conference and will be offered by trained persons in every district.

C. ACCOUNTABILITY

1. This Policy of PFUMC shall be compliant with the minimum standards of the Rio Texas Policy and must be reviewed annually.

2. PFUMC shall submit this policy and a report on how it is in compliance with this policy annually to the District Superintendent at its charge or church conference.

3. The Senior Pastor shall document the date and name of the facilitator when the completed safety certification is submitted to the District Superintendent annually via the annual inventory/clergy consultation form.

REPORTING ABUSE

Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Abuse Texas State Law Obligation To Report

A person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person is obligated by Texas law to immediately make a report to a law enforcement agency or to the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (1DPRS) Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-252-5400). If the person is in doubt regarding whether a report should be made, he or she shall telephone the agency and discuss the situation with a counselor to determine whether a report should be made. This call may be made anonymously. A person shall make a written record of the name and title of the counselor with whom he or she spoke and the recommendation made by the counselor.

Notification to Capital District Event Leader/District Superintendent

• Any person having cause to believe that a child or youth is subject to abuse in connection with any district event should immediately report the incident to the Event Leader. If the allegation is in relation to the Event Leader, the person is to contact the District Superintendent. If the allegation is in relation to the District Superintendent, the person is to contact the Bishop.

• Should abuse allegations occur:

o Respond to each allegation in a serious manner,

o Treat each allegation with confidentiality and respect for the privacy of all involved persons;

o Cooperate fully with civil authorities;

o Extend genuine care to all victims of abuse.

Responding to the Report

When someone receives a report of an incident of abuse, or suspected abuse, he or she shall immediately take steps necessary to ensure the safety of the alleged victim.

A. Any Adult Leader or Assistant Leader accused of Abuse shall be immediately relieved of duties related to any PFUMC event.

B. In the case of Abuse allegations, the senior pastor, District Superintendent, and/or Bishop shall be notified immediately. Parents or legal guardians should be notified in appropriate circumstances.

C. It shall be the goal to provide supportive care to both the victim and the accused and to restore such persons to wholeness. The PFUMC should provide a supportive atmosphere to all those who are affected, offering both objectivity and empathy as it seeks to create a climate in which healing can take place. Supportive care can include the procedures of the criminal justice system, provisions of the current Book of Discipline, appropriate counseling referrals and continued pastoral visitation.

D. Statement to the Media: PFUMC shall follow the guidance of The Conference Coordinator of Communications for communications with media about the incident(s) which may have been reported.

EXCEPTION FOR CHILD CARE FACILITIES SUBJECT TO STATE REQUIREMENTS: It is recognized that PFUMC operates a licensed childcare facility that comes within the purview of the State of Texas. Nothing in this policy is meant to alter or change any requirements imposed by the State. This policy exempts those facilities from its requirements because the State requirements are deemed sufficient.

It is a privilege to work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults. Great responsibility is required. Those who violate this policy shall immediately be removed from contact with children and youth. Appropriate authorities shall be notified immediately.

Adopted by the First United Methodist Church Pflugerville on September 12, 2018.