Frequently Asked Questions

Why screen? Who must be screened? When should we re-interview? Answers to these and other good questions


We are a community within which love, justice, truth, peace and self-discipline are nurtured and valued. The overall aim for the Screening in Faith policy is to ensure that there is a safe environment in every parish, ministry, and activity.

How do parishes move forward?
Have parishioners involved in writing job descriptions and determining risk. Follow the Ten Safe Steps developed by Volunteer Canada.

Who must be screened?
Assess each job description, to determine the level of risk.

Who should be screened?
  • Churchwardens, to show solid leadership.
  • Parishioners, especially those in obvious leadership roles
  • Leaders of diocesan ministries involving vulnerable people
  • All volunteers working with vulnerable people

Do we need to screen everyone, even occasional helpers in the nursery?
Use up to date job descriptions to determine the level of risk. Nursery supervisors should be fully screened, while occasional helpers, who are never alone with children, require less.

Who does the screening?
Generally the people responsible for supervising the volunteer must do the screening. A parish may choose to set up a screening committee for support and to track progress. Some police forces ask a church to apply for record checks on behalf of all their volunteers at once.

How do we deal with someone who has done pastoral work for 30 years and resents being screened? Involve them in writing their own job description or in developing parish guidelines for other pastoral care workers. Assure them it is about the position, not the person.

Can you ask if someone has a police record? No.

What about records from other groups such as Scouts?
We are screening for the position, not the person, so the job description would not be the same. Recent Police Record Checks, i.e. within six months, are acceptable though.

How do we screen those who are under 18?
A detailed job description, references and an interview will help screen youth, even without a Police Records Check.

How are types of abuse other than sexual, i.e. abuse of authority, to be checked, especially for adults?
Try to develop clear job descriptions, mentioning attitude and appropriate /inappropriate behaviour. Interview for attitude and make sure that the volunteer's training and evaluation are ongoing.

What is our responsibility re judgment calls?
Better to be safe than sorry. If we offer a program, we must fulfill our "Duty of Care".

What is our "Duty of Care"?
This is a legal concept, which identifies the obligation of individuals and organizations to take reasonable measures to care for and protect their participants. Failure to meet the Duty of Care can result in an accusation of negligence.
If someone has "done their time", shouldn't the church allow them to do ministry?
In the Diocese, a criminal conviction for a sexual offense involving a minor disqualifies an applicant from working with children. In "ministering" to the redeemed, the church must be careful not to lead anyone back into temptation. Other types of ministries may be explored.

Why should I interview all volunteers when some are people I see each week over the coffee hour?
An interview provides the ministry leaders with the opportunity to review important items about the job description and the volunteer's application form. In addition, it gives the interview team a feeling about how well this person would "fit" in a particular job or ministry.

How often should people be re-screened?
When a volunteer changes position significantly or takes on a new ministry, the person should be re-screened. Based on the new job description, try an interview, orientation and perhaps an appropriate records check, for example, a credit check for treasurers.

When is it appropriate to re-interview?
If the interviewer is uneasy about the "fit" of a person for a particular position, book a second interview. Invite an extra screener, often someone who is familiar with the ministry. You are looking for the right match of person and ministry.


Could more materials on abuse be available so people could recognize its many forms?
Clear job descriptions, outlining appropriate and inappropriate behaviour are important. So is proper supervision and feedback. Materials on abuse, physical and emotional, are available from the Synod Office.

Are the clergy and churchwardens liable if there is an offence in a parish?
Anyone who sues will sue the Diocese, the parish and the parish corporation (clergy and churchwardens). The Diocese carries insurance in case this happens.


How useful is a Police Records Check?
It is only one tool. It may discourage an inappropriate person from applying for ministry. It is not a substitute for the other steps of screening.

Who pays for a Police Records Check?
The cost of a police check varies with local police policy. Many are free to volunteers. If further identification is required, there may be an RCMP fingerprinting charge. Each parish should decide how to meet this expense.

How long is a Police Records Check valid? The diocesan standard is that a police check should be renewed every five years at least. If a person is taking on a new, more sensitive or higher risk ministry, then that person may need a new police check.


How do parishes "reduce the risk"?

  • Have a buddy system (two adults, for example, for youth-related activities)
  • Have a third party present in any situation where there is a chance that safety may be compromised or a conflict arise
  • One on one? Leave doors and blinds open!

What renovations do you recommend to improve physical safety?
Inside and out, install windows in doors, security locks, and adequate lighting for safety. More information: Safe People.

Are we covered when some other person or group uses our church building?
The Church is assumed to be a safe place, even when used by others. Since the Diocesan insurance policy does not cover third party liability actions and claims, it is highly recommended that you insist all groups using your facilities obtain insurance coverage. Pearson-Dunn Insurance & Financial Services Inc. provides coverage for such occasions, with rates that are affordable.


What should we do with the Police Records Check? It is the property of the person. A photocopy, with date, would be sufficient for screening records.

What do we do with information, records & forms?
The parish needs a secure, locked, fireproof filing cabinet to store these records. It also needs a bring-forward system, for renewing the screening every 5 years.

Does the person being screened have access to their file? Yes.

Who else has access to these screening files?
Only the screening committee of the parish.

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