Home > Children > Protection Policy

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County
Child and Youth Protection Policy


[Our standard navigation bar would make this page awkward to print and sign. Please use the "breadcrumbs" at the very top of the page to get to our home or children's pages.]

Preamble

We, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County, as an institutional body of religious community, recognize the importance of creating a community where everyone, and especially our children and youth, are safe. We recognize that religious communities - which should be dedicated to the creation of safe environments for all their members - are particularly vulnerable to incidents of abuse because of the high level of trust, the welcoming spirit and the strong need for volunteers, especially in children and youth programs.

We recognize the importance in a religious community of those very factors of trust, welcome and volunteer commitment, and the necessity to adopt requirements, with explanatory guidelines, to guard against incidents of abuse. We further realize that institutions operating in the best manner possible with all due concern still cannot guarantee an absolutely risk-free environment.

We recognize that to adequately address the need for safe enjoinments, it will mean change and sacrifice of some convenience, yet we know our responsibility to respond to the reality of our situation and to our children and youth.

In this spirit, we endorse the following requirements for church events.

I. Screening and Selection of Workers with Children and Youth

Workers who provide direct care or supervision to children or youth at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County (UUFSC) events or programs must meet the following criteria:

II. Definitions

A "group" is defined as those children who have been assigned to a nursery, preschool, or individual elementary class or specific program or activity within the context of that class, as well as youth who are taking part in a planned, organized component of their program.

"Supervision" is defined as the reasonable exercise of thoughtful action and responsibility by adults working with their respective age groups, realizing that the immediacy of such direct supervision will vary with the ages of those in a group and the context of the activity.

III. Supervision Guidelines and Policies

There will be a minimum of two persons scheduled to supervise each group. The Director of Religious Education (DRE) may make exceptions to this two-person rule on a case-by-case basis.

If any adult is alone with a group of children at the church, the window coverings will be open and/or the door to the classroom will remain open and the DRE or her/his designated representative will check-in with the group.

Corporal punishment or abusive language will not be used under any circumstances.

Two adults will be present during all disciplinary meetings. Disciplinary meetings between a teacher, adult sponsor, advisor or other volunteer and a child must include another worker or the Director of Religious Education. If such a meeting is necessary, the parents will be informed and the contents of the meeting will be discussed with them as soon as possible or when they pick up their child.

If an adult other than a parent or guardian (see also the section below "Counseling by Minister or DRE"), has a private on-site, one-on-one meeting with a child or youth, the Director of Religious Education or another member of the Religious Education Committee should be immediately notified of the meeting and its purpose. Such meetings are strongly discouraged and must be conducted in a room with a window or open door. At church-sponsored events, no adult volunteer or compensated employee, other than the parent or guardian, is to be alone with a child or youth offsite without prior parent arrangement approved by the DRE.

Counseling by Ministers or DRE

UUFSC professional staff, the Minister or DRE, counseling children or youth must inform the other member of the professional staff or, if unavailable, the Chairperson of the Religious Education Committee, of the counseling meeting and the name of the counseled. Advanced scheduling is strongly encouraged, but notice immediately after counseling is permissible if prior notice is impossible. Standard rules of ministerial confidentiality will be respected. Parents will be informed of the meeting, again respecting rules of confidentiality, unless it is deemed that to do so would endanger the child or youth.

Transportation to, from, and during Church or District Events

It is the responsibility of parents to provide safe transportation to and from UUFSC for Church and District events. Volunteers and compensated employees are not allowed to pick-up or drive children and youth home from UUFSC or to be alone in a car with one child or youth except by prior parental arrangement or a signed UUFSC permission slip.

Special Cases

For children with special needs, it may not be possible to serve a child's needs through the classroom setting with two volunteers and other arrangements may be made. In such cases, the DRE and the child's parents will try to work out a reasonable supervision arrangement. Such arrangement will be agreed to in writing between the DRE and the child's parents. The Religions Education Committee will approve the arrangement.

IV. Conduct for Adults Working with Children and Youth

Adults who work with children and youth at UUFSC are expected always to have the best interests of children and youth at heart. They are expected to nurture their physical, emotional, and spiritual growth by fostering an environment of kindness, trust, respectfulness, and hopefully, fun. No one's enjoyment should ever be at the expense of another person's health or self-esteem. In this manner, we hope to create an environment in which children and youth will be able to explore the spiritual and religious nature of their lives.

To accomplish the above there are specific expectations that UUFSC has for employees and volunteers.

"Friendship" with Youth

Although we hope that youth and adults will have genuine fondness for one another, any adult who looks to youth for friendship is not sufficiently mature to be in a position of responsibility. A "friendship" is reciprocal, where neither person has more responsibility for the health of the relationship than the other does. This is antithetical to the adult/youth relationship, where the adult is the one who assumes primary responsibility for maintaining appropriate boundaries and cultivating an atmosphere of health and trust. Therefore, it is the adult volunteer or compensated worker's responsibility to avoid or discourage inappropriate friendships.

Unofficial Contact with Youth

Sometimes a genuine mentoring relationship will develop between a youth and an adult. If an adult wishes to be in contact with a youth outside of the normal channels of church events, activities must take place with the knowledge and consent of the youth's parents/guardians. Adults can protect themselves from false accusations of misconduct by keeping the parents informed of their actions.

Sexualized Behavior

It is never appropriate to engage in any manner of sexualized behavior with a child or youth. This refers not only to explicitly sexual behavior, but also to sexually provocative behavior or language. It is inappropriate to tell jokes with sexual content, for instance, or to make "double entendres." Physical expressions of affection such as hugs certainly have their place, but it is best to allow the child or youth to initiate them.

Confidentiality

If an adult learns that a child or youth is the victim of abuse, is suicidal, has a serious drug problem, etc., it is UUFSC's policy that information be communicated to the Church's professional staff immediately. CONFIDENTIALITY IS NOT SECRET KEEPING. A covenant of confidentiality will mean that you do not repeat information told to you in confidence, however, when the information indicates harm to self or others report the incident to the DRE immediately.

Acceptance with this Policy and Code of Conduct

Any church employee or volunteer working with children or youth who disagrees with any provision of the Policy or the Code of Conduct is free to discuss their opinions with the leadership of the church, but must abide by the Policy/Code as written. Signing the Code indicates the signatory has read the Policy and the Code and agrees to abide by them. The signatory further acknowledges that failure to abide by the Code or the provisions of the Policy will result in dismissal from either paid or volunteer positions involving children and youth at UUFSC.

V. Reporting and Response Procedures

If a worker, volunteer, or any other adult suspects abuse of a minor during a UUFSC program or event, the adult must immediately report it to the DRE or the Minister. California State Law (Section 11166 of the California Penal Code and section 15632 of the California Welfare and Institution Codes) requires that a person suspecting the abuse of a child report these suspicions immediately or as soon as practically possible to a child protective agency, or a local law office. The minister and/or DRE will need to prepare a written incident report thereof within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident.

The Minister or DRE will alert the CYRE chairperson that an abuse situation has been reported. Otherwise, the matter is to remain confidential. Release of information could interfere with successful prosecution, could result in unwarranted damage to the reputation of the accused, or may endanger the child.

If the reported abuse involves a worker or volunteer at UUFSC, the supervisor of that person will immediately relieve that person of any duties involving supervision, care or teaching of children and youth at UUFSC until the matter is resolved. The supervisor will keep a written record of who reported the suspected abuse and any circumstances.

VI. Responding

If the media contacts UUFSC about an alleged abusive situation involving UUFSC, only the DRE or Minister will speak for UUFSC. In general, the following guidelines apply for these situations with the public media:

Because of the issue of confidentiality, in the best interests of the child, we cannot discuss specific cases in a public context. It is important that we protect the interests of the child and UUFSC, particularly if litigation seems possible. The designated spokesperson will freely discuss what steps we have taken to guard against abusive situations.

VII. Awareness and Implementation

The UUFSC Board of Trustees approved this policy and it will be communicated to the congregation and implemented as follows:

  1. Annually announcements about the updated Child and Youth Protection Policy (Policy) will be made in the order of service for two consecutive Sundays and copies will be made available to the congregation in the back of the Sanctuary.
  2. The policy will be posted and kept updated on the UUFSC website, with a link from the Children's page. The signed original, along with copies, will be kept in the Fellowship office.
  3. Parents, teachers, and volunteers will receive a copy of the Policy each year at registration and be asked to sign a form indicating that they have read and understand the Policy. As new children enroll in the RE program their parents will receive copies of the policy and be asked to sign a form indicating that they have read the Policy.
  4. The Policy will be included in all new member information packets.
  5. At least once a year at the Church Council meeting the Policy will discussed.
  6. Teacher training on child sexual abuse awareness and prevention will be conducted annually.
  7. The DRE, Minister and volunteers who supervise or care for the children and youth of our community will be required to agree to a criminal background check. Background checks will be kept in a locked file.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County's Code of Conduct

Statement of Position:

Adults and older youth in leadership roles in this congregation are in a position of stewardship and play a key role in fostering the spiritual development of both individuals and the community. It is, therefore, especially important that those in leadership positions be well qualified to provide a positive sense of self and a sprit of independence and responsibility. The relationship between young people and their leaders must be one of mutual respect if the positive potential of their relations is to be realized. Respect on the leader's part must include recognition of the absolute right of children and youth to the privacy of their bodies and minds.

Statement of Expectation of Behavior:

As specified in the UUFSC Child and Youth Protection Policy all compensated and volunteer staff are expected to adhere to the following behavior.

Statement of Agreement:

I have read and understand the UUFSC Child and Youth Protection Policy and the Code of Conduct. I agree to abide by the provisions of this Policy and the Code of Conduct and to honor and preserve the trust placed in me by the members of this congregation.

Name (Printed): _____________________________________________________

Signature: _________________________________________________________

Date: _______________________________________________






Church Copy - Please sign and return to DRE

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County's Code of Conduct

Statement of Position:

Adults and older youth in leadership roles in this congregation are in a position of stewardship and play a key role in fostering the spiritual development of both individuals and the community. It is, therefore, especially important that those in leadership positions be well qualified to provide a positive sense of self and a sprit of independence and responsibility. The relationship between young people and their leaders must be one of mutual respect if the positive potential of their relations is to be realized. Respect on the leader's part must include recognition of the absolute right of children and youth to the privacy of their bodies and minds.

Statement of Expectation of Behavior:

As specified in the UUFSC Child and Youth Protection Policy all compensated and volunteer staff are expected to adhere to the following behavior.

Statement of Agreement:

I have read and understand the UUFSC Child and Youth Protection Policy and the Code of Conduct. I agree to abide by the provisions of this Policy and the Code of Conduct and to honor and preserve the trust placed in me by the members of this congregation.

Name (Printed): _____________________________________________________

Signature: _________________________________________________________

Date: _______________________________________________


Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County

2172 Kiernan Avenue
Modesto, California     See a map
(209) 545-1837

We have no mail service on Kiernan; please use:
PO Box 1000
Salida, CA 95368

Questions about our fellowship? Go to our Staff Page for all the e-mail addresses you'll need.
Broken links, typos, navigation problems? Write to Ted Pack, our web master.

We are a liberal church and the only UU congregation in Stanislaus county. We serve Ceres, Denair, Escalon, Hickman, Hughson, Keyes, Manteca, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson, Ripon, Riverbank, Salida, Turlock and Waterford. We welcome Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Deists, Free-thinkers, Humanists, Jews, Pagans, Theists, Wiccans, and those who seek their own spiritual path. We welcome people without regard to race, physical ability, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Visits since April 17, 1999
Page updated: September 08, 2014