Frequently Asked Questions

1. What steps does the Diocese of Brooklyn take to ensure the safety of all children?

  • Thoroughly screening and supervising all members of the clergy (priests and deacons), as well as all employees and volunteers who work with children and young people as part of their ministry.
  • Providing appropriate training in recognizing and reporting child abuse to appropriate civil and Church authorities.
  • Holding all members of the clergy, employees and volunteers who work with children and young people to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

2. What information does the Diocese obtain from the background check?
We verify a person’s identity and background based on their name, date of birth and social security number. We also check to see is there is any relevant information in the agency’s database of criminal records and in state sexual-offender registries. We do not ask for any financial information about the applicant.

3. What if a person doesn’t have a valid Social Security number? Do they still need a background check?
Yes. We still have to verify the person’s identity and check his or her background. People without a valid Social Security number should complete the background check authorization form and leave the line for Social Security blank. Make sure to provide a date of birth.

4. What about volunteers or employees who are under 18?
High-school-aged employees or volunteers have the choice of attending a VIRTUS workshop or completing the online teen training course, Shield the Vulnerable. Applicants under the age of 18 do not need to fill out a background search authorization form. All employees and volunteers must read and fill out a Code of Conduct.

5. What are the requirements for Shield the Vulnerable?
High school students in grades 9 and 10 are required to do the online program. Juniors and seniors who do not have parental permission to attend a VIRTUS workshop  should also do the online program.

6. I have 7th & 8th grade students volunteering in my program. Are they required to complete the Shield the Vulnerable program?
No. The Safe Environment Office is not recommending this program at this time for students who are not yet in high school. These children need to be part of the Child Lures Prevention Program.

7. Is a certificate issued for the online program, and who tracks completion?
The students can print a completion certificate to turn in to their supervisor. The Safe Environment Office is notified of all online completions.

8. What if I already had child abuse training or a background check from another job (e.g., I’m a public school teacher, social worker, or Boy Scout leader)?
Training programs from other agencies, or those required by state authorities, certainly provide ample education about child abuse in general. However, they do not provide the necessary training for the diocesan Code of Conduct and our reporting requirements – both of which are required by the Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. As a result, personnel and volunteers in the diocese must attend the VIRTUS “Protecting God’s Children” training class, even if they have already had the New York State child abuse awareness training class.

Even if you’ve already had a background check from another agency or program, we still require everyone submit to a background check with us. Our standards are different from other agencies, and we have to makes sure everyone satisfies those standards.

9. What is the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People?
The Charter is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in June of 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, accountability, and prevention of further acts of abuse. A full copy of the Charter is available for download from the USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection website. The Charter has been published in diocesan newspapers and websites and through special bulletins. You can also order copies from USCCB Publishing.

10. How is compliance with the Charter monitored?
In June 2003, the Office (now Secretariat) of Child and Youth Protection began an audit process of all dioceses and eparchies throughout the United States. The audit is used to determine if the diocese is implementing the practices required by the Charter. An Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter is prepared by the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.