Brookfield Massachusetts, 01506-0457
As a community of faith committed to following Jesus Christ, we strive to extend a generous welcome to all who enter our doors and to treat them with the love and dignity that God bestows upon each and every one of us. We want our church to be a safe place for everyone.
We cannot simply assume that our church is a safe place. We know that we cannot eliminate all risks, but we can strive to reach that goal by taking intentional and direct actions. The Safe Church Team wants people of all ages to be able to deepen their relationship with God and each other in an environment that is safe and secure. It is in this spirit that Brookfield Congregational Church Safe Church Policies and Procedures Manual was created. We consider this to be a living document which will be amended over time as new issues arise. We hope that this document will provide guidelines to create a safe environment at Brookfield Congregational Church for our members, guests, ministers, staff and volunteers.
What is safety?
Safety means that a person’s spiritual, emotional and physical self is protected from injury. For example:
The policies and procedures included in this document apply to all activities which take place within the building and properties of Brookfield Congregational Church, as well as programs, activities, or events scheduled as part of the ministry of this church which take place elsewhere. The policies and procedures apply to all involved in them.
A Safe Church Policies and Procedures Manual will be provided to each new employee and to each board or committee chair. All volunteers who will be working with children, youth, or vulnerable adults will review (or be provided access to) the manual. Manuals are located in identifiable binders in six locations.
The Safe Church Team’s function is to oversee the implementation of the Safe Church Policies and Procedures.
The team will be comprised of a member of:
The Safe Church Team will:
It is the responsibility of Brookfield Congregational Church to maintain physical safety of the church building.
Brookfield Congregational Church will:
Care will be taken to secure entrances to the church by limiting access of keys that cannot be duplicated to appropriate individuals who:
All outside groups who rent or use the church facilities will receive a copy of the Safe Church Policies and Procedures Manual. If groups agree to comply with its provisions as pertain to their use of the building, they will sign the Use of Facilities form (Form B-2).
It is not the practice of this church to carry or hand out cash to anyone. If someone is requesting assistance, please refer them to contact the church office at 508-867-6262 to make an appointment to speak with the Pastor.
If emergency assistance is needed, please call the appropriate resource number.
CORI Processor: a state-certified Brookfield Congregational Church employee or volunteer who manages the CORI process.
Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI): Criminal conviction information of persons within the Massachusetts Court System. Regulated by the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) and maintained by the Board of Probation.
Staff or paid employee: Any individual called, hired or compensated by Brookfield Congregational Church on a part-time, full-time, permanent or temporary basis.
Brookfield Congregational Church welcomes volunteers to become involved in the programs offered as part of our ministries. For those volunteers who work with youth and children on a regular basis, volunteers should generally be at least five years older than the youth or children they work with, have been part of the church community for six months. Volunteers must complete both the CORI background check (Form E-1) and a Church School/Youth Worker Disclosure Form (Form D-4).
Brookfield Congregational Church uses the Massachusetts CORI verification process and may also use a national criminal background verification service selected by the Safe Church Team. Brookfield Congregational Church requires a CORI report on:
Anyone convicted of any felony or a felony default by the court, with child or elder abuse, whether physical, emotional, or sexual, will not be considered, under any circumstances, for a position at Brookfield Congregational Church.
The Brookfield Congregational Church will appoint an authorized CORI processor whom will be required to obtain training from the Criminal History Systems Board to review and interpret CORI records.
Ministerial staff will provide CORI applications (Form E-1) to volunteers and turn them in to the CORI processor. The CORI processor will submit CORI applications and receive CORI reports. The CORI processor will consult the Safe Church Team when there are concerns. The ministerial staff will solicit approval for volunteers from the CORI processor. All attempts will be made to maintain confidentiality.
CORI reports are repeated every two years and are maintained in a secure/locked location in the Brookfield Congregational Church office.
If a criminal record is received from Criminal History Systems Board - CHSB:
Concerning the Process in Correcting a Criminal Record (available on request) and Information Concerning Establishing Yourself as the Victim of Identity Theft for Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) purposes (available on request).
The Safe Church Team may consult with the church's ministerial staff as well as an attorney retained by Brookfield Congregational Church (if necessary) regarding background check findings and reports.
All staff members, teachers, and youth leaders who work with youth and children will receive training on Safe Church Policies and Procedures. They will sign a Participation Covenant (Form D-2) which will be kept on file with the Safe Church Team. Each will be given a copy of the Safe Church Policies and
Procedures and Information for Volunteers (Form D-3) to review and an opportunity to ask questions.
Those individuals who have regular, direct contact with youth will also receive education about child abuse awareness and reporting procedures.
Brookfield Congregational Church is committed to creating a safe and healthy environment in which children from Nursery to Grade 12 can learn about and experience God’s love. Therefore, we provide supervision for all activities and programs involving children and employ practices that provide for the safety of children and those who care for them.
Aide: a volunteer who functions in a non-supervisory role in one of the church school classrooms or nursery/ toddler room in the presence of an approved teacher or caregiver. Aides generally should be at least 12 years of age.
Nursery/Toddler Caregiver: a volunteer who supervises activities in the nursery/toddler rooms. The caregiver must be at least 18 years of age.
Teacher: a volunteer who leads classroom activities. Teachers must be at least 16 years of age. However, if under 18, must have an Adult Aide over 18.
One-time Volunteer: someone who assists in a classroom or helps with a trip or event but has not committed to a regular role such as aide or teacher.
Each class should have at least two teachers [lead teacher and assistant]. If a second teacher is not available, the teacher may either:
Bathroom Assistance: teachers/aides who accompany a child to the bathroom will wait outside the bathroom door unless the child needs assistance. In which case, two Caregivers or adults will be present or the bathroom door left open; if necessary a Caregiver will request assistance from the parents/guardians.
Windows in classroom doors will remain uncovered.
If circumstances dictate that a child must be alone with a teacher, the teacher should notify another teacher, a parent or guardian and wait with the child with the door open or in a public space on church grounds.
The Board of Christian Life will require parents or guardians of all children participating in the educational ministry program to complete a registration form for each child (Forms E-1, E-2). The registration form includes contact information and information regarding allergies or any other relevant medical concerns. This information will be included in the classroom attendance folder. Welcome forms for visitors are available in the sanctuary with church school sign-in forms. (Form E-3).
The purpose of discipline is to maintain order in a manner consistent with the teaching of Christian responsibility, respect and cooperation.
If in the context of a class or other event, a child discloses information that raises concern about his or her safety, the incident should be discussed promptly with the ministerial staff to clarify and determine an appropriate level of response.
Brookfield Congregational Church is committed to creating a safe and healthy environment in which young people can learn about and experience God’s love. Therefore, we will provide supervision for all ministries and activities involving youth and employ practices that provide for the safety of all youth participants as well as teachers, leaders or helpers who serve in these ministries.
Youth Fellowship (YF): a fellowship, worship and service program for students in grades 6-12.
Adult Volunteer: A person 18 years of age or older. Generally be at least three to five years older than the youth..
Chaperone: A CORI checked volunteer 18 years old or older who assists with supervision of youth for a special activity.
Driver: The driver should be at least 23 years of age with a valid driver’s license and have been CORI checked.
Helper, Assistant: A volunteer worker for regular youth activities who functions in a non-supervisory role (e.g. high school student who helps in YF). Helpers function under the supervision of the leader or teacher and generally should be 3 years older than the oldest youth participating in the program.
One-time Volunteer: an adult who helps with an event (trip, retreat) but has not committed to regularly helping with youth activities
Teacher, Leader: A paid or volunteer adult worker who has direct responsibility for the care of youth under their supervision. Teachers and Leaders are CORI checked and have been part of a church community and volunteered in some capacity outside of youth activities for six months.
Assistant Teacher, Leader: A volunteer adult worker who assists the supervision of the youth during regular youth activities. Should be 3 years older than the oldest youth they are assisting (e.g. Jr. Youth group. Assistant Teacher/Leaders must also be CORI checked and have been part of a church community and volunteered in some capacity outside of youth activities for six months.
Off-Site Event: A scheduled youth event requiring transportation that is scheduled off Brookfield
Congregational Church property. Off-site events may last an hour or include overnights that last several days (e.g. bowling, mission trip, retreat).
Youth: All students participating in the Youth Fellowship ministry from 6th to 12 grade.
The Two Adult Policy is intended to protect youth and prevent adults from encountering a situation where they could be wrongfully accused.
It is recommended that there be a ratio of one adult for every six youths at all youth programs or activities. If these ratios are unable to be met, the youth activity may be canceled at the discretion of the minister or lay leader.
At least two chaperones should wait with youth being picked up after an off-site event. In the event that an adult is alone with a youth waiting to be picked up, they should wait in a public space.
It is permissible to have one adult per car carrying youth to an off-site event, but at no time should an adult be alone with a child other than his/her own. Two children and one adult in a vehicle is appropriate.
All youth participating in youth programs must have a Brookfield Congregational Church Youth Fellowship Registration Form (Form E–1) and Medication Consent Form (Form E–3) on file. Completed forms will be brought on all youth off- site events by the adult leader. An Brookfield Congregational Church Youth Fellowship Permission Form (Form E–2) will be filled out and handed in for any off-site overnight trips. These forms will be kept on file for minimum of 3 years within the church.
All youth participating in programs will develop and sign a covenant with their leaders at the beginning of the year. See Form F-5 for Youth Covenant: Mission Trip/Event & Social Networking.
All participants are expected to act in a respectful manner toward all others participating in a Youth Fellowship function. Participants are expected to follow the covenant developed with the minister. The purpose of discipline is to maintain order in a manner consistent with the teaching of Christian responsibility, respect and cooperation. No youth will be disciplined by use of any form of humiliation or by any other form of verbal, physical, psychological or emotional punishment.
Mutual respect in communication between youth and leaders, teachers and chaperones is expected. Appropriate behavioral expectations will be clearly communicated.
Disruptive, disrespectful or dangerous behavior will be addressed by the leader, teacher or chaperone in charge. If this behavior occurs on a trip or at a meeting, the leader reserves the right to contact the parent/guardian and send the youth home at the parents’/guardians’ expense.
Adult volunteers must report all infractions of youth rules to the minister or adult leader of the group.
If in the context of a class or other event, a youth discloses information that raises concern about his or her safety, the incident should be discussed promptly with the ministerial staff to clarify and determine an appropriate level of response.
The internet and social media are evolving tools which offer great promise for developing and deepening ministries but also pose significant safety challenges.
Church Sponsored Sites: any group, page or list-serve that is created by a designated member of Brookfield Congregational Church for the purpose of establishing, maintaining or growing ministries to and with youth and/or adults.
Inappropriate Content: refers both to content that is improper or offensive [i.e. illicit, unsavory, abusive, pornographic, harassing, discriminating or disrespectful].
Accounts should be established for the Youth Leader position and not the individual person. i.e. BCC Youth Leader. This account should be:
Adults should refrain from submitting or accepting “friend” requests from minors or youth that are associated with the Youth Fellowship ministry.
Youth should refrain from submitting or accepting “friend” requests from adult leaders that are associated with the Youth Fellowship ministry.
All youth and adults should be informed that any communication that is sent via digital means (email, social networking site notes or posts, texts, etc.) is not confidential and may be reported or shared with others.
Photo consent forms should be filled out and signed before pictures are posted to websites/ social media. Photos posted online should be dignified and respectful of those in the photo. If any, only first names should be used to identify youth in pictures used on social media sites/online. Do not ‘Tag’ people or allow youth to be tagged in photos
See G.4 Facebook Page Member for additional information on the Youth Group social networking site.
We recommend leaders should:
The Members of the Brookfield Congregational Church Fellowship Youth Group will be allowed a secure Facebook page for social networking and to post Youth Group activities.
Access to the Youth Group site for Adults over 18 years old will be limited to only: parents and CORI’d church leadership. Parents will receive a copy of our Safe Church Policy if they join the social network group and must abide by the policy or they will be removed.
A Social Networking Covent will be signed by all that are given access to the Facebook Page. See Form F-5 for Youth Covenant: Mission Trip/Event & Social Networking.
Any inappropriate material that is covered by Mandatory Reporting laws must be reported to the Brookfield Congregational Church Council, documented for church records, and then deleted from the site.
See “Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting: A guide for Mandated Reporters” (Appendix L) or visit the Mass Dept of Children & Families website: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dcf/.
Adult leaders are not responsible for internet youth pages that are not sponsored by the Brookfield Congregational Church.
Adult members who seek religious or spiritual advice from clergy via digital means (email, social networking site posts, texts, etc.) should be informed that their communication is NOT confidential. Use of digital means to communicate nullifies confidentiality.
Ministers who are leaving or retired from Brookfield Congregational Church should refrain from offering pastoral care with members of the Brookfield Congregational Church or youth group members through digital communication after the end date of their contract with Brookfield Congregational Church.
Former youth members and adult leaders of Youth Fellowship, due to departure by removal or loss of eligibility (aged out of a program) should be removed from digital communication youth groups (Facebook groups, list serves, etc.). (See Guidelines for Making Digital Covenants, Form G-1).
In the Bible a covenant is an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people and, usually, requires certain conduct from them. Likewise, a covenant is be made between members of youth fellowship and adult leaders to create an environment of trust, acceptance and Christian values. For that reason a Youth Covenant for Mission Trip/Events and Social Networking has been created. See Form F-5 for Youth Group Covenant: Mission Trip/Event & Social Networking.
See Form G-1 for guidelines on creating additional Digital Covenants.
Through our Safe Church Policies and educational programs, we seek to prevent abuse occurring at Brookfield Congregational Church. Allegations or reasonable suspicions of abuse will be responded to seriously and reported to appropriate church and state authorities. All the actions and documentation described below must be held in the strictest confidence and as such as few people as possible are informed. It is the responsibility of all concerned to maintain confidentiality.
Child: A person under the age of eighteen.
CORI Processor: Submits and receives CORI forms. The CORI processor will consult the Safe Church Team (See Section A.4) when there are concerns. All attempts will be made to maintain confidentiality.
Department of Children and Families (DCF): The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) manages child abuse and neglect reports.
Incident Report: a written report (Form A -1) of any unusual occurrence at Brookfield Congregational Church.
Mandated Reporter: a person who, by virtue of his/her profession or position, is required by law to report all reasonable suspicions of child abuse. Church mandated reporters include: clergy, authorized ministers (ordained, commissioned and licensed), persons performing duties on behalf of the church (e.g. Deacons), church employees and volunteers who supervise, educate, coach, train or counsel children on a regular basis (Children, Youth and Music positions).
Moderator: The lay leader of Brookfield Congregational Church and the presiding officer for all meetings of the Church Council.
Church Council: Please refer to church bylaws.
Brookfield Congregational Church observes the Massachusetts standard for reporting abuse. Anyone with "a reasonable cause to believe" that a child under age 18 is suffering or has suffered from abuse or neglect will follow the Response and Reporting Policies and Procedures.
"Reasonable Cause" - after examining all the facts in a particular situation, most people with similar training and experience would also suspect abuse. This is the 'reasonable person' standard commonly used in the law - Questions and Answers About Reporting Child Abuse ©: Dayl Hufford.
To protect children, any circumstance of abuse that poses imminent risk of serious harm will be reported to the Brookfield Police Department at 9-1-1 or 508-867-5570. Because of the vulnerability of children, their right to our protection supersedes a counselee’s right to confidentiality.
If in the context of a class or other event, a child discloses information or an adult otherwise has a reasonable cause to believe that a child is not safe, the incident must be discussed promptly with the ministerial staff to clarify and determine an appropriate level of response.
Incident Reports (Form A-1) are required for all unusual occurrences at Brookfield Congregational Church. They must be submitted to the Safe Church Team or the appropriate staff member even if it is determined that an oral or written report will not be filed with DCF. These forms will be stored in a secure and confidential location.
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the Massachusetts agency with responsibility for protecting children from child abuse and neglect. No one is prohibited from making a report directly to DCF, and may do so as either an identified or anonymous reporter. Reporters can file anonymously by calling The Child-at-Risk-Hotline at 1-800-792-5200 anytime of the day or night. For more information see http://www.mass.gov/dcf
An oral / telephone report to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) will be made within 24 hours as recommended by the Massachusetts Conference, UCC. Written reports will be completed within 48 hours as required by Massachusetts law. Mandated reporters who fail to report suspected child abuse may be subject to criminal prosecution.
Any person raising a concern of abuse should contact the Safe Church Team and/or confidentially discuss their concern with the Brookfield Congregational Church minister, or the Minister of Education.
The role of the Safe Church Team is to receive the allegation, provide leadership and to guide the reporter through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) contact process. Investigation and evaluation of concerns of abuse is the role and obligation of DCF and not of the reporter, minister, or the Safe Church Team.
If there is an allegation against the Ministerial staff, the deacons will be notified and they will contact the Personnel Committee and/or the Area Minister (if necessary). The church will seek the counsel of the Association Committee on Church and Ministry regarding action to be taken.
Brookfield Congregational Church wishes to create and maintain a community in which members, friends, staff, and volunteers can worship and work together in an atmosphere free of all forms of discrimination, harassment, exploitation, or intimidation.
Ministerial Relationship: exists between a minister and the recipients of their ministry.
Harassment: repeated misconduct, whether verbal or physical, that creates an environment that is uncomfortable, unwelcoming, discriminating, or intimidating, or leads to an atmosphere in which a person's ability to participate in worship and activities at the church is compromised.
Sexual Exploitation: activity or conduct of a sexualized nature in which a minister engaged in the work of the church takes advantage of the vulnerability of an individual by causing or allowing the individual to engage in sexual behavior with the minister or staff member.
Sexual Harassment: repeated or coercive sexual advances toward another person contrary to his or her wishes. It includes behavior directed at another person's sexuality or sexual orientation with the intent of intimidating, humiliating, or embarrassing the other person, or subjecting the person to public discrimination. Prohibited Sexual Harassment includes unsolicited and unwelcome contact that has sexual overtones. Sexual Harassment also includes continuing to express sexual interest after being informed directly that the interest is unwelcome – and using sexual behavior to control, influence, or affect the career, salary, work, learning,
or worship environment of another.
Brookfield Congregational Church is strongly opposed to Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Harassment and
Harassment of any kind, and such behavior is prohibited. It is the intention of Brookfield Congregational Church to respond to allegations of behavior that are contrary to this policy and, if necessary, to discipline those persons who violate it and/or report it to the appropriate authorities. Every individual always has the right to report allegations to local authorities.
All persons engaged in the ministry of Brookfield Congregational Church are responsible for knowing the possible impact of their words and actions in ministering to the emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of persons who come to them for help or over whom they have any kind of authority. Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Harassment or Harassment in a Ministerial Relationship is unethical and unprofessional behavior and will not be tolerated.
The utmost respect shall be given to the confidentiality and privacy of all parties. Any person who brings a concern or complaint forward, or who assists in investigation of such a report, will not be adversely affected in terms and conditions of employment or church membership, or otherwise discriminated against or discharged. Information will be shared only on a need-to-know basis.
When the Safe Church Team is requested to initiate a formal proceeding, the following procedure will happen:
If the person(s) involved is not satisfied with the disposition of the matter, he or she has the right to appeal to the church council to appoint a committee to review the complaint.
The Brookfield Congregational Church Safe Church Policies and Procedures were developed by the 2016-2017 Safe Church Task Force:
Cheri Carty, Darlene Dean and Jan Wilson
The Safe Church Policies and Procedures will be reviewed each year by the Safe Church Team. The Team may recommend revisions to be approved by the Church Council.
Adopted by: Brookfield Congregational Church of Brookfield, Massachusetts Date: ____________
Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Sex Offender Registry Board http://www.mass.gov/sorb; (2016).
Connecticut Conference, United Church Of Christ. “Internet Safety Guidelines” [link on Insuance
Board website] http://www.ctucc.org/resources/onlinesafetyguidelines.html (May 3, 2010).
Criminal History Systems Board. "Criminal Offender Record Information-CORI." http://www.mass.gov/chsb/cori/cori_cert.html (2010).
Department of Children and Families Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting; A Guide for Mandated
Edwards Church of North Hampton, (United Church of Christ) North Hampton, Massachusetts. "Safe Church Policies and Procedures." (July 2, 2012).
General Laws of Massachusetts. "Protection of Children Chapter
119:Section 51A Injured children; reports." http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/119-51a.htm
General Laws of Massachusetts. "Protection of Children Chapter 119:Section 51B Physically or emotionally injured children; duties of department; disclosure of information to department." http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/119-51b.htm .
Insurance Board "Safe Conduct Workbench" http://www.insuranceboard.org/safety_solutions/safe_conduct_workben ch.aspx.
Insurance Board "Creating Safer Places for Ministry" http://www.insuranceboard.org/assets/1/AssetManager/Loss%20Control%20Manual%20Vol
%204%20-% 20Camps%20-%202010-11%20Edition.pdf [2011 edition]
United Church of Christ. "Making Our Churches Safe"
United Church of Christ. "The Time is Now!" Guide to developing abuse prevention policies "http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/unitedchurchofchrist/legacy_url/247/ morehelpnow.pdf?1418423609" .