Safe Environment Program



Safe Environment Program Office (Diocese of St. Petersburg) at 6363 9th Avenue North, Saint Petersburg, FL 33710 US -   Background Screening

Background Screening

 The Diocese of St. Petersburg is now a Participant in the
Applicant Fingerprinting Retention Notification Program (AFRNP)

Given the opportunity to upgrade the diocese's background screening capability, Bishop Lynch has decided to have the diocese participate in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement/FBI's Applicant Fingerprinting Retention Notification Program.  The AFRNP alerts the diocese immediately when an individual with unsupervised access to children, youth, or vulnerable adults has been arrested or convicted. Click here to view the Announcement MemoClick here for more details.

Fingerprinting Requirement for FDLE/ Level 2 Background Check

  • Employees   All employees 14 years of age and older must be Level 2 (FDLE/FBI) background screened using electronic fingerprinting through diocesan resources.  Go to dosp.sofn.net to register.  .
  • All covered volunteers (Those persons who may have the care responsibility, and or supervision of children, youth or vulnerable adults) must complete a Covered Volunteer Application (CVA).  This form should be completed and turned in to the office of the volunteer's organization (parish, school, other diocesan entity).  The form acts as the organization's permission to expend the funds necessary to fingerprint a covered volunteer. Once the organization accepts the CVA, the covered volunteer must go online to dosp.sofn.net   to register and schedule a printing session. The results will go to the organizational point-of-contact at locaton selected by the voluneer during his/her online registration session.  

The Diocese of St. Petersburg does not accept background screening reports from any federal agency, state agency, or private information vendor regardless of the screening organization and regardless of the position that an individual currently holds or may have held in the past -  with one exception - the Diocese can accept FBI/FDLE Level 2 background checks performed by Qualified Entities of the FBI.FDLE Volunteer, Employee Criminal History System.  Otherwise, fingerprints contained in the FBI database can be used only for the purpose intended and are federal-statute specific.  This means that the sharing of criminal history reports between entities outside of the Diocese of St. Petersburg is not allowed except as noted above.

In order to begin the background screening process, Church Personnel who wish access to children youth, and or vulnerable adults must first obtain and complete either an Employee Application, a Covered Volunteer Application Form, a contract, or a license agreement. These forms can be obtained from the parish, school, or early childhood center where they wish to work or volunteer.  Secondly, individuals must register online at the following secure website:
http://dosp.sofn.net, select a time, date, and location to be fingerprinted and then keep the appointment.  For those individuals who do not access to a computer, please contact the PrideRock Customer Assistance number at 877-323-8885 to register by phone.

Results of criminal history background checks are provided to the pastor of each diocesan entity.  (Note: Every organization within the diocese has a juridic person in charge who is normally the pastor-even for schools and early childhood centers)
 

  • Contractors, vendors, licensees, consultants "contractors"  (See additional information and requirements of what it takes to become a diocesan vendor, contractor, licensee, or consultant)
     
    (Note: In accordance with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's [FDLE] Volunteer, Employee Criminal History System [VECHS] User Agreement signed by representatives of the FDLE and the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg on November 9, 2001, paragraph I.C. states that...current and/or prospective employee and volunteers (which classes of persons shall be understood for purposes of this Agreement to include contractors and vendors who have or may unsupervised access to the children, disabled, or elderly persons for whom User provides care), pursuant to section 943.0542, F.S. [Florida Statutes], and the NCPA (National Child Protection Act), and forms the legal basis for User's access to criminal history record information derived from the systems of the U.S. Department of Justice...) 

    All contractor employers who have employees that provide products and or services to the Diocese of St. Petersburg AND whose employees have or may have unsupervised access to children or youth must register with the Diocese of St. Petersburg Safe Environment Program Office (DOSP).  Said employees must successfuly complete a Level 2 FBI/Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) background check based on electronic fingerprinting performed by the Diocese of St. Petersburg.  Successful completion of a background check by the Diocese means that screened individuals meet the Diocese of St. Petersburg Minimum Standard of Moral Conduct. 

    The Diocese of St. Petersburg does not accept background checks performed by any other organization except from a FDLE VECHS member organization also known collectively as Qualified Entities.  In accordance with FBI/FDLE authority and the Diocese of St. Petersburg Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, the Safe Environment Program Office performs Level 2 background checks on contractor employees who have or may have unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults.

    Type 1 Contractors This category of contractor contains those firms whose employees have unsupervised access (aka care, responsibility, and or supervision) to children, youth and or vulnerable adults on diocesan property or to and from diocesan property.  The employees of these firms must (1) successfully complete a FDLE/FBI Level 2 criminal history background check, (2) attend Safe Environment Program training, and (3) meet additional requirements as listed in the DOSP Contractors/Vendors/Licensee Registation and Certification Procedures (as amended) to become a certified contractor with the diocese. 

    Type 2 Contractors  Those contractors whose employees perform such services and or provide products as lawn service providers, HVAC repair persons, vending machine stockers, and similar businesses whose employees have short-term access to children, youth or vulnerable adults in diocesan schools, early childhood centers, parishes, or other diocesan entities must be under escort at all times while providing their services or products while on diocesan property. 

    (Note: This clause cannot be used as a work-around, or act as a loop hole, or act as as an avoidance ploy to defeat the requirement to successfully complete a FBI Level 2 background check.)

    Diocesan contractor employees can submit a set of fingerprints at any diocesan Fingerprinting Site once their firm is registered with the Safe Environment Program Office.  These individuals can register online at www.dosp.sofn.net

    Once a contractor employee goes online, he/she will land on the SOFN login screen where he/she must register as a contractor/vendor when asked to enter "Applicant Type".  (Note:  For the purposes of background screening,  the term "contractor/vendor includes "licensees" and "consultants")  For "Job Location", select "Pastoral Center".

    Enter the firm's contractor/vendor number.  If unknown, contact your employer.  Your employer may have to contact the Safe Environment Program Office at 727-343-1611, ext 5377 to obtain one.   The online registration software provides Fingerprinting Locations as part of the online registration process. For all cleared contractor employees, the Safe Environment Program Office will provide the employee's employer representative with a FDLE/FBI Level 2 clearance letter for each employee screened.  The letter will state that the screened employee can or cannot have access to diocesan property to provide products or services to the contracted parish, school, or other diocesan entity on behalf of his/her employer.  This clearance letter will provide the 5-year expiration date of the individual contractor employee’s background check and will act as proof of successful completion of a FDLE/FBI Level 2 background check to any diocesan entity. 

    In those instances where a contractor employee does not successfully complete a FDLE/FBI Level 2 background check because he/she does not meet the Diocese of St. Petersburg Minimum Standards of Moral Conduct, the diocese will issue a non-clearance letter to the respective employer.  The non-clearance letter will state that the firm's employee cannot have access to diocesan property to provide products or services on behalf of his/her employer.  

    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI prohibits the Diocese from divulging details of a contractor's employee background check to his/her employer.  However, the individual contractor employee is entitled to a personal copy of the report upon which the Diocese made its decision.  This request must be in writing and addressed to the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Safe Environment Program Manager, 6363 9th Ave., North, St. Petersburg, FL33710.  

    The contractor employee is free to share the results of his/her background check with his/her employer if he/she wishes to do so.  (Note: Contractors not have access to the diocesan appeal process.)
     

    Contractors (Types One and Two) of Diocese of St. Petersburg must meet the requirements of the Safe Environment Program (SEP) as contained in the Diocese of St. Petersburg Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (as revised).
     

    Type 1 contractor firms are those firms whose employees have unsupervised access (aka care, responsibility, and or supervision) of children, youth and or vulnerable adults on diocesan property or to and from diocesan property.  The employees of these types of firms who provide products and or services to the Docese must successfully complete a Level 2 FBI/FDLE criminal history background check, attend Safe Environment Program training, and meet additional requirements as listed the diocesan  Contractors/Vendors/Licensee/Registration Procedures to become a certified contractor with the diocese.  Type 2 contractor/vendors have less restrictive requirements as listed in the aforementioned procedure.

     

Background Screening Procedures

The Diocese places two rings of protection around its children, youth, and vulnerable adults - a criminal history background check and safe environment program training(It is important to note that covered volunteers must complete a Covered Volunteer Application BEFORE they go online to register to be fingerprinted.  This application form can be obtained from the parish or school office or on this webpage (see right-hand column).  Once completed and accepted by the parish or school, the Volunteer Application Form becomes the authorization document to be fingerprinted and acceptance of the initial cost of the fingerprinting session by the covered volunteer's parish or school.

The first line of defense, then, is a FDLE/FBI Level 2 Criminal History Background Check  of anyone who wishes to have unsupervised access to children, youth or vulnerable adults.  A FDLE/FBI Level 2 Background Check is a check of an individual's background predicated upon an electronically taken and transmitted set of digital fingerprints matched against prints contained in the FBI's National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's (FDLE) Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System (VECHS) database. 

A FDLE/FBI Level 2 criminal history background check gives the Diocese access to all arrest records to include: expunged records, sealed records, missing persons records, sexual predator listings, outstanding warrants in all 3,200 counties of the United States and the five U.S. Territories, as well as access to the Interpol criminal records database internationally.  Click here to register to be fingerprinted online once permission from the parish or school has been obtained www.dosp.sofn.net.

The second line of defense is Safe Environment Program (SEP) Training.  Both SEP Training and the FDLE/FBI Level 2 Criminal History Background Check are required before an individual can have the care, responsibility, and or supervision of children and youth or access to vulnerable adults.  The order in which these two requirements is not important, i.e. the training can come first or the fingerprinting session can come first. 

It is important to note that the following classes of adults must have their backgrounds checked for criminal history:

1.  All Employees regardless of age

2.  Adult Covered Volunteers who wish or may have unsupervised access to children, youth, or vulnerable adults (A Covered Volunteer is one who may have unsupervised access to children, youth, and or vulnerable adults).

3.   Contractors, vendors, licensees, and consultants who wish or may have unsupervised access to children, youth, or vulnerable adults.  (A vulnerable adult is a person 18 years or older whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection is impaired due to a mental, emotional, physical, developmental disability dysfunction, brain damage, or the infirmities of aging.  This requirement then applies to those who provide pastoral care in the homes of vulnerable adults and to those Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion who take Communion to the Sick and Shut-in (Eucharistic Ministers to the Homebound).

Not all volunteers need to be screened for criminal history.  Non-covered volunteers include those individuals with such job titles as Eucharistic Ministers at Mass (not Eucharistic Ministers to the Sick and Shut-In), Lectors, Cantors, money counters, parish council members, etc. who do not have unsupervised access to children, youth, or vulnerable adults do not have to be screened.  However, the pastor does have the authority to screen anyone who he thinks could possibly have unsupervised access to children, youth and or vulnerable adults.

Non-employees under the age of 18 and post high school do not need to be screened for criminal history or Safe Environment Program trained.  Why?  It is because these non-employees under the age of 18 and post high school are not allowed to have unsupervised access to children, youth, or vulnerable adults.  This includes youth ministers, coaches, mentors, scout leaders, babysitters, etc.  These individuals who may assist with children, youth or vulnerable adults must be supervised by a volunteer or employee who has completed a Safe Environment Program Workshop and has successfully completed a FDLE/FBI Level 2 Background Check.

In an effort to protect our children, youth, and vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect, the Bishop has instituted the Diocese of St. Petersburg Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults as revised.  This policy applies to Church Personnel who may have the care, responsibility, and or supervision of children or unsupervised access to vulnerable adults.  Church Personnel is defined as clergy (priest, deacon, or religious), employee (any lay person who is employed by or engaged in ministry who is given payment for services in any form), covered volunteer (any unpaid person who is engaged or involved in any diocesan institution or parish activity as a ministry ) or contractor/vendor/licensee/consultant (This class of person shall be understood to be an employee for purposes of the policy and in accordance with the VECHS User Agreement to include contractors, vendors, licensees and consultants who have or may have unsupervised access to children, disabled, or elderly persons for whom the diocese provides care, responsibility, and or supervision).  

These Church Personnel must successfully complete a FDLE/FBI Level 2 Criminal History Background Check.  The Diocese of St. Petersburg Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (as amended) instituted the Minimum Standards of Moral Conduct (as amended) and promulgated by the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Church Personnel who wish to serve in any position of service must meet these Minimum Standards of Moral Conduct, which are now a prerequisite to service in the Church.  Any individual found guilty of one of these crimes contained in the Diocese's Minimum Standard of Moral Conduct cannot be employed by the Diocese or allowed to volunteer in any capacity, or to provide products or services on behalf of their employer (contractor/vendor/licensee).  However, in the case of employees and volunteers, the Diocese has instituted an appeal process, which is available through the Office of the Tribunal.  The appeal process is not available to contractors ,vendors, licensees, and consultants.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg Safe Environment Program Office is responsible for performing all FDLE/FBI Level 2 Criminal History Background Checks.  This background check is based an electronic fingerprint search that is processed through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)/FBI Volunteer, Employee Criminal History System (VECHS)  fingerprint database.

A FDLE/FBI Level 2 Criminal History Background Check currently cost $55 per session effective July 1, 2013.  This fee covers the costs charged by the Volunteer, Employee Criminal History System (VECHS), the state-wide check by Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the national check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the processing fees charged by the vendor to cover the cost of equipment, processing, and administrative costs.  Who pays for the cost of keeping the children and vulnerable adults of the diocese safe?

The cost of fingerprinting those wishing access to these protected groups will be billed to the organization requesting the background check.  The recovery of the cost of individual fingerprinting sessions by their organization depends on individual entity policy.  Please check with the parish/school/diocesan entity regarding their reimbursement policy.  Contractor/vendor/licensee/consultant employers will receive an invoice that accompanies each clearance letter issued by the Safe Environment Program Office.

Please direct all questions regarding fingerprinting to the Safe Environment Program Manager of the Diocese of St. Petersburg Safe Environment Office at 727-344-1611, Extension 5377 or via e-mail at ag@dosp.org.

ELECTRONIC FINGERPRINT/BACKGROUND SCREENING PROCESS - NEW PROCESS

As of January 17, 2014, the Diocese of St. Petersburg upgraded its state of the art electronic fingerprint/background system with a feature called the Applicant Fingerprint Retention notification Program (AFRNP).  This program will better serve the needs of our diocesan community by allowing a diocese to directly receive immediate notification if an individual is arrested after initially being cleared. 

To facilitate this process, EVERYONE MUST BE PHYSICALLY FINGERPRINTED AGAIN once his or her prints expire - even though you were printed initially and told that you could renew you background check online once your prints expired.  You must again register online and schedule an appointment. The process is the same.

Following is an outline of the same print-taking process: 
  1. Registration must be made online at: wwwdiocese.sofn.net.
  2. Step by step instructions are provided - enter information under all “red” fields. It is important to select the correct parish/school where you volunteer or are employed. 
  3. You will be prompted to schedule an appointment at one of the fingerprinting centers – you will receive an e-mail confirmation
  4. Upon completion of all required “red” fields, you will be provided with a “bar code” - you must have this code number with you at the time of your appointment along with the Government issued Identification card you entered under “Type of Identification”.
  5. Please make every effort to attend your appointment - contact your appointment center if you need to reschedule. 
  6. Results will be forwarded to the parish/school/diocesan entity you designated during registration by the Fingerprinting Department at the Diocese of St. Petersburg.  Contractor/vendor/licensee employers will receive individual clearance letters for their employees screened by the Diocese.
  7. The billing of $55 will be made directly to your school, parish, or employer. No payment will ever be accepted at the fingerprint site. 
Click on the following link to locate a fingerprinting location near you:  Current Fingerprinting Locations

IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO REGISTER ON-LINE, YOU CAN CONTACT THE FOLLOWING PRIDEROCK CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE NUMBER TO REGISTER: 877-323-8885.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact: Ellen Halloran, Fingerprinting Department at 727-344-1611 ext 5303 or e-mail: emh@dosp.org or write to her at  Diocese of St. Petersburg,  6363 9th Ave. No, St. Petersburg, FL 33710  

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