In an effort to strengthen our church communities to be safe spaces for all people , Franconia Mennonite Conference works diligently to provide resources regarding preventing abuse, supporting all survivors and ensuring child protection.
Confidential Communication with Clergy Regarding Child Safety:
Holding a Sunday Service on Child Safety:
(All books listed below are available at the Conference Center Library for checkout, unless otherwise noted.)
- Order of Service Sample for a Child Safety Sunday Service
- Readings For Child Safety Sunday
- Reflections on Planning Implementing a Child Safety Service
- Inviting Survivors Reflections– Questions Used
- Reflections on Abuse from Survivors at Salford Mennonite Church
Child Protection Resources:
Books to use with Children
Ages 0-5: God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies, by Justin S Holcomb & Lindsey A. Holcomb
Ages 3-5: The Story of Me (God’s Design for Sex Book 1), by Stan and Brenna Jones
Ages 5-8: Before I was Born (God’s Design for Sex Book 2), by Carolyn Nystrom
Ages 8-11:What’s the Big Deal? Why God Cares About Sex (God’s Design for Sex Book 3), by Stan and Brenna Jones
Ages 11-14: Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You (God’s Design for Sex Book 4), by Stan and Brenna Jones
Helpful Websites for Parents
- Mandated reporting of Suspected Child Abuse – handout from the Mandated Reporter Training
- Child Protection Seminar Slides – June 2015 EDC/FMC Seminar with Ms. Mundy from NOVA.
- Dove’s Nest – Dove’s Nest mission is to empower and equip faith communities to keep children and youth safe in their homes, churches, and communities. Dove’s Nest began as a grassroots movement among concerned Mennonites at the 2009 Mennonite Church USA Convention. This group consisted of volunteers that included pastors, social workers, therapists, and other professionals concerned about the issue of child and youth protection in Mennonite churches.
- Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) – NOVA is a nonprofit organization that helps victims of all types of crime and is local to Bucks County, Pennsylvania
- Keep Kids Safe PA – is the Pennsylvania government website with all information related to the new child protection laws enacted in 2015.
General Addressing/ Preventing Abuse of All People Resources:
- Preventing and Responding to Sexual Abuse: Some Much-Needed Resources
- Understanding Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
- Healing Through Truth Telling and Open Ears
- Body and Soul: Healthy Sexuality and the People of God (Faith & Life Resources, 2010).
- Brown, Christa. This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang. Foremost Press, 2009.
- Coleman, Monica. The Dinah Project: A handbook for congregational response to sexual violence. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2004.
- Cooper-White, Pamela. The Cry of Tamar, Violence against Women and the Church’s Response, 2nd edition. Fortress Press, 2012.
- Fortune, Marie M. Sexual Violence, The Sin Revisted. The Pilgrim Press, 2005
- Gaede, Beth Ann, editor. When a Congregation is Betrayed: Responding to Clergy Misconduct. The Alban Institute, 2006.
- Heggen, Carolyn Holderread. Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches. Herald Press, 1993. Reprinted Wipf & Stock, 2006.
- Jung, Patricia Beattie and Darryl W. Stephens, eds. Professional Sexual Ethics: A Holistic Ministry Approach. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013.
- Langberg PH.D., Diane Mandt. Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse. Xulon Press, 2003.
- Langberg PH.D., Diane Mandt. Suffering and the Heart of God: How trauma destroys and Christ restores. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2015.
- McCintock, Karen A. Preventing sexual abuse in congregations: A resource for leaders. The Alban Institute, 2004.
- Melton, Joy Thornburg. Safe Sanctuaries for Ministers: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church. Discipleship Resources, 2008.
- Melton, Joy Thornburg. Safe Sanctuaries for Ministers: reducing the risk of abuse in the church for children and youth. Discipleship Resources, 2008.
- Mennonite Quarterly Review (ebook), January 2015. This issue is devoted to the theme of sexual abuse–and the related motifs of discipline, healing, and forgiveness–within the Mennonite Church, with a particular focus on the controversy surrounding the actions of its mostly widely recognized theologian, John Howard Yoder (1927-1997).
- Tchividjian, Basyle. Protecting Children form Abuse in the Church. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2013.
- The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Sexual Abuse: Hope through Trauma
- Salter PH.D., Anna. Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists & Other Sex Offenders: Who they are, how they operate, and how we can protect ourselves and out children. New York: Perseus Books Group, 2003.
- Smith, Andrea. Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide. South End Press, 2005. (*not available at the Conference center)
- Understanding Sexual Abuse by a Church Leader or Caregiver (PDF download), 2nd edition. Mennonite Central Committee, 2011.
- West, Traci C. Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter. Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.
- Yoder, Carolyn. The Little Book of Trauma Healing: When Violence Strikes and Community Security is Threatened. Good Books, 2005.
- Clergy Sexual Misconduct Awareness and Prevention, Baylor University
- Dove’s Nest, Faith Communities Keeping Children and Youth Safe
- Faith Trust Institute
- Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE)
- The Hope of Survivors
- Safe Church Project, Samaritan Counseling Center
- Our Stories Untold
- Survivors Network of Persons Abused by Priests
- United Methodist Sexual ethics
- Prevention and Response: Sexual Abuse and Non-Credentialed Individuals – MC USA’s Panel on Sexual Abuse Prevention created guidelines for response when non-credentialed individuals are accused of sexualized violence in the context of congregations, conferences and organizations.
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:37 (NIV)
Pennsylvania’s Child Protection Law requires clearances on employees and volunteers who have “direct contact” with children and makes all those with frequent direct contact with children and all credentialed leaders (clergy) mandated reporters. Franconia Conference has decided to implement the same requirements for all of the Conference’s credentialed leaders regardless of the state they live and serve in. Under this new law clearances are also required for other church volunteers. Understanding who needs clearances and getting all of the documents in order can be overwhelming. To aid in this process here are the need to know items.
If you have any questions regarding the needed clearances please feel free to contact the Conference office at 267-932-6050.
Who needs clearances?
All employees age 14 and older and volunteers over the age of 18 who have “direct contact” with a child or children. This includes all credentialed leaders regardless of their contact level with children. A child is defined by the law as anyone under the age of 18. Direct contact can be defined as those acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent or guardian, someone providing care, guidance, supervision and or has routine interaction.
For Franconia Mennonite Conference congregations, individuals needing clearances include:
- All credentialed leaders
- Sunday School Teachers and assistants
- Nursery volunteers
- Any childcare worker during special events or service times
- Youth sponsors/ leaders
- Chaperones for events
What clearances need to be obtained?
Below you will find information and links to assist you in obtaining the necessary clearances for your state. Please note that your congregation, employer or Conference may require additional forms and background checks. Below are the ones required by law.
These background checks are valid under Pennsylvania law for five years. However, some organizations require them to be renewed yearly. Franconia Conference requires credentialed leaders to renew their background checks every three years with a credential renewal cycle.
NOTE: all clearance information will be sent back to you and you are responsible for showing the original to your church and/or conference office.
It is expected that if an individual has lived in in their current state of residence for the last 10 years and/or is applying for a volunteer (unpaid) position that they would:
- sign a “swear and affirm” document as they are not required to complete the FBI background check.
A sample of a “swear and affirm” document can be found here. Also, Souderton Mennonite Church currently uses a “Volunteer Covenant” that can be viewed here. Regardless of the length of residency, all credentialed leaders in Franconia Conference are required to complete FBI background checks.
- Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check (SPA-164) can be obtained online through the Pennsylvania State Police web-based computer application called “Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History,” (PATCH) here: Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) website. Additional Instruction: NOTE: look for the “Certificate Link” once you have completed all the steps. The certificate is what is needed for those requesting your clearances. A sample can be seen here. 1) Click “Submit New Record”; 2) Complete the form and click “Next”; 3) Fill out additional information and click “Proceed”; 4) Complete form and click “Enter this Request”, then “Finished”; 5) On the next page click “submit”; 6) On the following page you will need to click the “control number” and on the final page click “certificate form.” 7) Save the certificate for your record and submit to the person/organization requesting your clearance.
- Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance can be submitted and paid for online through the Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS) self-service portal. You will need to create an “Individual Login” and then proceed with the required steps. Once your login is created you will need to login to submit a clearance request. Once your clearance is processed you will receive an email notifying you. At that time log in again and obtain a pdf of your certificate (sample here). This certificate is what is needed to prove you are cleared. Remember your login for the Child Welfare Information Solution self-service portal is vital as this portal is also where you will submit suspected child abuse.
- The State of Pennsylvania recently transitioned to a new FBI Criminal Background Check vendor. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Background Checks (Act 114) are now processed through IDEMIA, and are required for individuals in paid positions OR volunteers who have lived outside of their current state of residence in the past 10 years. To complete this item you will need to register online and make an appointment to be fingerprinted. CLICK HERE and enter the following Service Code: 1KG756. From there, click “Schedule or Manage Appointment” and fill out the form. Upon submission, the system will prompt you to enter your zip code and choose a location to schedule an appointment to be fingerprinted; if an appointment is unavailable you can choose to be a “walk-in.” You will be required to pay the fingerprinting fee of $27.50, and payment will need to be made on-site at the time of your fingerprinting; you cannot pay online. You will also need to present a valid U.S. driver’s license or one of the identification documents from this list at your appointment. Once you have been fingerprinted, you should receive a certificate in the mail in 6-8 weeks; this is what is needed to prove you have the appropriate clearance. If you are a credentialed leader in Franconia Conference, this certificate will need to be presented to Conference to fulfill this background check requirement.
- National Child Protection Act FBI National Record Check requires that you submit a fingerprint card. 1) Go to the IdentoGO website and enter the following Service Code: 1KG756. 2) Click “Submit A Fingerprint Card By Mail” and fill out the form. For “Employer Information” enter your congregation or Conference’s information. For “Would you like to locate the IdentoGO Enrollment Center nearest you?” Click “Yes.” On the “Location” section select “Mail A Fingerprint Card”. 3) Complete the Payment information. 4) Go to the appropriate site to get your fingerprints taken. 5) Follow the instructions for mailing in the Fingerprint cards. 6) When you receive the results in the mail, send them to your church or Conference.
- Criminal Record Check & Child Abuse Clearances are required by Franconia Conference for credentialed leaders as it is Pennsylvania Law. However, these clearances are not available for employment purposes for residents of California. Therefore, Franconia Conference requires those working with children in California to complete this Swear & Affirm Statement indicating they have not been charged with any of the offenses that would have come up in either of those clearances.
For New Jersey:
- New Jersey Criminal Record Check (Form C) requires fingerprinting and is done through MorphoTrust USA. You will need to download the appropriate Universal Fingerprint Form and bring this form with you to your scheduled fingerprint appointment. In addition to this form, you must bring proper identification as outlined on the form. The home address that you fill out on the Universal Fingerprint Form should be the same as the home address printed on the identification that you provide to MorphoTrust USA. YOUR EMPLOYER / VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION ADDRESS MUST BE COMPLETE AND ACCURATE, AS RESULTS ARE SENT OUT VIA US MAIL. To ensure accuracy, please legibly complete blocks #9 thru #26 on the front of the form prior to scheduling your appointment. The fee for this service is $40.66, which includes the $10 vendor fee and associated state sales tax. The following forms of payment are accepted: VISA, Master Card, American Express, Discover, prepaid debit cards, or electronic debit (ACH) from a checking account. Accounts will be debited immediately. At the time of scheduling your appointment, payment will be required and charged to your account. You must schedule an appoint and can do so by clicking here. For more information visit the NJ State Police FAQs by clicking here.
- New Jersey does not allow Child Abuse Record Information to be released to those out of New Jersey. Therefore please complete a Swear and Affirm statement you can access form here and submit to your church leadership and/or to conference office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For New York:
- New York Criminal Record Check requires fingerprinting and is done through MorphoTrust USA. 1) Contact MorphoTrust USA to schedule an appointment to have your fingerprints taken by visiting the IdentoGO website or call 1-877-472-6915. 2)Provide the following information, either online or by phone: Personal Record Review service code 15465F. 3) Schedule and attend your fingerprint appointment. 4) At your finger print appointment provide one form of identification. Visit the IdentoGO website or call 1-877-472-6915 for information about acceptable forms of identification. Also, payment of $62 will be due. Credit cards, checks and money orders are accepted. Personal or business checks, certified checks, bank checks or money orders must be made out to “MorphoTrust USA”. For more information, click here.
- New York Child Abuse & Neglect Information Form must be completed and notarized. The “Agency” you are having the information released to should be your church or conference. Please complete the form here, have it notarized and mail the form to: New York State, Office of Children & Family Services, Statewide Central Register, PO Box 4480, Albany, NY 12204-0480.
- Vermont Criminal Record Check can be obtained in person or via the mail through the Vermont Crime Information Center, certified results are required. More information can be found by clicking here.
- Child Protection Registry Self Inquiry Request Form should be completed and notarized. Then mail the form with a self addressed stamped envelope to Department for Children and Families – Child Protection Registry, 280 State Drive, Waterbury, VT 05671-1080. Upon receiving your results you must show the original to your church or conference office. More information can be found here.
- National Child Protection Act FBI National Record Check requires that you submit a fingerprint card. 1) Go to the IdentoGO website and enter the following Service Code: 1KG756. 2) Click “Submit A Fingerprint Card By Mail” and fill out the form. For “Employer Information” enter your congregation or Conference’s information. For “Would you like to locate the IdentoGO Enrollment Center nearest you?” Click “Yes.” On the “Location” section select “Mail A Fingerprint Card”. 3) Complete the Payment information. 4) Go to the appropriate site to get your fingerprints taken. 5) Follow the instructions for mailing in the Fingerprint cards. 6) When you receive the results in the mail, send them to your church or Conference. NOTE: If there is not an IdentoGo location near you, your local police jurisdiction or State Police, may be able to assist you. More information can be found here.
- Virginia Criminal Record can be obtained via mail, certified results are required. The record check needed is form SP-230 and can be obtained by completing an online form here. Requests should be submit on a SP-230 form. Purpose is Employment. “Mail Reply To:” Can either be yourself or your congregation or Conference. There is a $20.00 fee that can be paid online or via company check or money order to: Department of State Police, P. O. Box 85076, Richmond, VA 23261-5076.
- VA Department of Social Service Central Registry Form should be completed and submitted. Instructions and the form to request your background search can be found here. “Mail Search Results To” should be your congregation or Conference. Note: This form needs to be notarized.
- National Child Protection Act FBI National Record Check requires that you submit a fingerprint card. 1) Go to the IdentoGO website and enter the following Service Code: 1KG756. 2) Click “Submit A Fingerprint Card By Mail” and fill out the form. For “Employer Information” enter your congregation or Conference’s information. For “Would you like to locate the IdentoGO Enrollment Center nearest you?” Click “Yes.” On the “Location” section select “Mail A Fingerprint Card”. 3) Complete the Payment information. 4) Go to the appropriate site to get your fingerprints taken. 5) Follow the instructions for mailing in the Fingerprint cards. 6) When you receive the results in the mail, send them to your church or Conference. NOTE: If there is not an IdentoGo location near you, you are able to have your finger prints taken through the Virginia State Police. You must complete the following form to obtain your fingerprint cards COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA – DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE REQUEST FOR FINGERPRINTS. More information can be found here.
Healthy boundaries are a gift. They are helpful guidelines that give shape to our relationships. God set boundaries in the creation of the world, not to limit creation, but to protect it and let it flourish. Having healthy boundaries is a prevention to abuse. Franconia Conference conducted Healthy Boundaries trainings in 2018.
Mandated Reporter Training
Each state has their own laws regarding who is legally mandated to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Franconia Conference holds that all credentialed leaders are ethically and biblically responsible to care for the most vulnerable and therefore even if not required by law should report any suspected abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities. All credentialed leaders in Franconia Conference are therefore required to be trained in mandated reporting for the state in which they live/work. See below for info on obtaining this training.
Those who did not attend the in-person trainings hosted by Franconia Conference must complete the training online. Click here for info.
Complete the online training provided by the California Department of Social Service. If you are a credentialed leader you are required to complete both the General Training course and the Clergy Module. Instructions for both are below. To complete the training:
- Access the General Training course by visiting: http://mandatedreporterca.com/training/generaltraining.htm
- Click “Take this Class Now”
- This course may take up to 4 hours to complete and participants will receive a certificate upon completion. (If you are a credentialed leader/ clergy, continue to number 4, if not you have completed your necessary training).
- If you are a credentialed leader/ clergy, go to the Clergy’s Module that addresses the specific issues and concerns of clergy in regard to mandated reporter training. This can be accessed here: http://mandatedreporterca.com/training/clergy.htm. The General Training must be completed first!
- The is a self-paced module and may take up to 2 hours. A final test is given at the conclusion that requires 80% or higher to pass. Upon passing, you will be able to print out a certificate of completion; note, this certificate is only valid if you have completed the general training already. Once you have completed this please provide both the General Training and Clergy Module Certificates to Franconia Conference.
Complete the 2-hour web-based online Mandated Reporter Training provided by The New York State Office of Children & Family Services. To do so complete the following steps:
- Create a STARS Human Service Learning Center account. Instructions and registration Instructions for New HSLC User can be found here.
- When you receive a username & password by email with a link to the HSLC homepage, visit the homepage and in the main menu, select “User”, then “My Registration” and you will be directed to the current registration page. Click the mandated reporter class title in the grid and then click on the link below “Content” to start the class.
- You must complete the class within 30 days. You will receive a certificate of completion after taking the course; please provide a copy of this certificate to Franconia Mennonite Conference.
“New Jersey is a mandatory reporting state. This means that any person with reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected must report those concerns or findings immediately.” The only training available in New Jersey for mandatory reporting is designed for school personnel. Franconia Conference highly recommends that all credentialed leaders complete the training which can be accessed here: http://www.state.nj.us/education/students/safety/socservices/abuse/training/
Credentialed leaders must familiarize themselves with New Jersey law and how to make a report if necessary and sign the Affirmation Form stating they have done this. The Affirmation Form with instructions on what to do to familiarize yourself with New Jersey law and mandated reporting can be found here.
Complete the online training provided by the Vermont Agency of Human Services-Department for Children & Families. To do so:
- Go to https://goto.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1087433 – fill out the form to enter the webcast, or log in if you have previously registered.
- This training takes about 2 hours to complete, and participants will be given a final test to receive a Certificate of Completion; A copy of this certificate must be provided to Franconia Mennonite Conference if you are credentialed with the Conference.
Review A Guide for Mandated Reporters In Recognizing And Reporting Child Abuse And Neglect and complete the online training provided by the Virginia Department of Social Services. To do so:
- Go to http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/cps/mandated_reporters/cws5692/index.htm to begin the course. The program includes two modules that take about 30 minutes each to complete. Because no certificate is offered at the end, credentialed leaders are required to sign and return an Affirmation Form and a copy of the final training screen showing a 90% or higher score on the training quiz for their credential credit. The Affirmation Form can be accessed here.
- It is advised that all credentialed leaders and anyone working with children familiarize themselves with A Guide for Mandated Reporters In Recognizing And Reporting Child Abuse And Neglect (click the title to access the document).