Safe Environment Program
Saint Thomas Aquinas Church is mandated to participate in the Diocese of Columbus Safe Environment Program. This program provides for background checks (BCI&I and/or FBI) and training through the Protecting God’s Children workshop. The goal of the Safe Environment Program is to protect the children and youth who are participating in our evangelization and catechesis programs, who are students in our school, or who are present at any other type of parish event where adults are responsible for their care and custody.
The Safe Environment Program requirements apply to parish staff, school faculty/staff, parishioners, volunteers, visitors, and private contractors and vendors. More specifically, the program provides very specific guidelines for anyone who has the care and custody of children and youths. We strongly encourage all parish volunteers to complete civilian criminal background checks and attend a Protecting God’s Children workshop, even if you will not directly have care, custody, or control of children and youth, as the safety of young people is best assured when all adults have been trained and understand how to build a safe environment.
Protecting God’s Children Workshop
Who is required to take the class?
The following adults 18 years or older are required to attend a Protecting God’s Children class:
- All parish, school and diocesan employees, regardless of their level of contact with children
- All clergy and applicants to clerical formation who serve in the Diocese
- All volunteers in a school, program or ministry for children and youth, regardless of their level of contact with children
- Volunteers for other parish programs or ministries who have been delegated care, custody or control of children
How do I register for the class? All class registration is online at www.virtus.org. These workshops are free and last about three hours.
Background Check (fingerprinting)
Who must have a background check? The following adults 18 years or older are required to attend a Protecting God’s Children class:
- All paid diocesan, parish and school staff members, regardless of their level of contact with children.
- All volunteers in a school, program or ministry for children and youth, regardless of their level of contact with children.
- All volunteers who have been delegated care, custody, or control of children or youth.
- Anyone returning after a significant gap (1-1/2 years) in volunteer service.
What level of background check is required?
- BCI&I Check is required if a volunteer or applicant has lived in Ohio for the past 5 consecutive years. All requests for BCI&I civilian background checks must be submitted electronically through WebCheck. Locations are listed by county on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
- FBI Check is required if a volunteer or applicant has lived outside of Ohio at any time during the past 5 years. All requests for FBI civilian background checks must be submitted electronically through WebCheck. Locations are listed by county on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
What do I need to know before visiting a provider? Before scheduling an appointment with your local law enforcement agency, make sure they have the capability to do checks electronically. Bring a valid form of identification and provide them with the following codes:
- All parish employees and parish and school volunteers should use ORC 2151.86.
- Licensed school employees should use ORC 3319.291.
- Non-teaching school employees should use ORC 3319.39B1.
If I was fingerprinted for my job or another volunteer position, can I use that report?
- The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I) has now determined that while the Diocesan Safe Environment Program is allowed to provide copies of background reports to the parishes and schools, the reverse process violates the FBI policy against third party dissemination. To be compliant, effective October 1, 2015, ALL background reports will have to come from the BCI&I directly to the Diocesan Safe Environment Program. We are not legally permitted to accept reports, or copies of reports, from parishes, schools, agencies, or individuals. The Diocesan Safe Environment Program contact information is:
Safe Environment Program
Diocese of Columbus
197 E. Gay Street
Columbus OH 43215
- If a person has been fingerprinted within the last 30 days, that person may contact the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I) and request a copy of that report be sent to the Diocesan Safe Environment Program. There is no charge for this request.
- If the most recent report was completed more than 30 days previously, but less than 12 months previously, that person may make a written request to the BCI&I to have a copy sent to the Diocesan Safe Environment Program. There will be a charge for this request.
- If the most recent report for a new employee or volunteer is older than 12 months, the person will need to be re-printed and have a new background check conducted. BCI&I does not provide copies of reports older than 12 months.
How are my results filed?
- The Diocese receives and retains the background check results (both BCI&I and FBI) and the verification of Protecting God’s Children workshop attendance.
- This information is then made available to individual parishes so we know which of our employees, volunteers, etc. have completed the PGC workshop and the background check requirements. Please note that criminal background reports are treated confidentially by both the Diocese and our parish.
- Individuals with no break in service who are transferring between diocesan parishes can request that their information is transferred to Saint Thomas Aquinas Church for retention in our parish database.
- After Saint Thomas Aquinas Church receives verification that both the Protecting God’s Children workshop and the background check have been successfully completed, the volunteer is then ready for service.
Safe Environment Office Reminder: Effective July 1, 2013, all background reports MUST be sent directly from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII) to the Safe Environment Office (SEO) (formerly the Safe Environment Program). SEO will provide copies of the reports to all schools and to parishes and agencies as requested. If someone, employee or volunteer, wants a copy of his/her background report, he/she must contact SEO and request a copy. If SEO has the report, the staff will make a copy of it, and leave it in a sealed envelope at the front desk of the Catholic Center. The person requesting the report must come to The Catholic Center, with photo ID, and sign for the report. The official report is the one maintained by SEO, not the copy provided to the parish or school. SEO is the only entity that may release a copy of someone’s background report. It is a violation of FBI and BCII policies for anyone else, such as the staff at a parish or school, to provide a copy of a background report.
Acknowledgements & Policies