Safe Environment Program

Safe Environment Program Office (Diocese of St. Petersburg) at 6363 9th Avenue North, Saint Petersburg, FL 33710 US - From the Desk of the Safe Environment Program Manager

From the Desk of the Safe Environment Program Manager

To Protect and Heal

Ten years ago few in the church had heard the voices of those abused by its clergy. The U.S. Catholic bishops, meeting in June 2002 in Dallas, Tex., changed that, however, as they came to grips with a problem that was deeper and more extensive than they had realized. Their soul-searching led to the passage of a “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” and to several structural changes. Among the most significant of these is the creation of two new ministries, the Safe Environment Coordinator and the Victims' Assistance Minister.

PROGRAM UPDATE - 2009-2010

The Safe Environment Program of the  Diocese of St. Petersburg ("Program") must be updated periodically as changes occur in the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, new developments in the field of Child Safety, state and federal law, changes in technology, changes in policies and procedures, and other seen and unforeseen developments that impact the Program.

In January of 2010, the Bishop authorized an update of the Program. The following is a synopsis of those Program changes: 

Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults

  • For the purposes of the policy, vendors and contractors are considered Church Personnel as regards background screening and Safe Environment Program training requirements
  • The age of an adult is now post-high school and 18 years of age
  • Reporting
    • Under Florida law, everyone is a mandatory reporter with confinement and financial sanctions for willfully not reporting actual or suspected child abuse
  • Level 2 Background Screening
    • Level 2 Background Checks are good for 5 years
    • Contractors and Vendors must now be fingerprinted at diocesan printing sites
    • Employees between the ages of 14 -17years of age must also be background screened
  • Safe Environment Program (SEP) Training
    • SEP training is now good for 5 years instead of 3 years from the original date of training for adults who wish unsupervised access to children, youth, or vulnerable adults.
    • Initial SEP training must be face-to-face in a live training session 
    • SEP Recertification may be accomplished by attending another live training session or by completing an online course 
For a complete line by line summary of the 2009 changes to the  Diocese of St. Petersburg Policy for the Protection of Children and  Vulnerable Adults, click here

Minimum Standard of Moral Conduct and Appeal Process (Eff. 1/2010)

The School Scholarship Accountability legislation enacted by Florida changed the criteria and methodology for determining eligibility for employment in our schools.  The penalty for non-compliance is loss of scholarship funding.  This change added 13 additional crimes to those that will eliminate an individual from employment or volunteering in any position in the diocese.  The most significant change is the addition of domestic violence arrests, injunction and protection orders. 

Specifically, a
ny person who is either the victim of domestic violence has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence, has standing in the circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.

These new changes apply to all Church Personnel, which includes clergy, employees, volunteers, and contractors/vendors subject to
 the provisions of the Diocese Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults.


·        Applies to all screenings and five year re-screenings conducted after February 1, 2010


·        Appeal Process discontinued for reinstatement of employment eligibility for those entities receiving scholarship money.


·        Each entity currently receiving scholarship money.must conduct an internal compliance audit to identify any employee who does not meet the new standard or who has had their eligibility reinstated under the current appeal process.


·        Affected Church Personnel must be removed from contact with scholarship students any individual who does not meet the new standard or who has appealed and had eligibility reinstated.

Please click here to view the revised Minimum Standards of Moral Conduct (Eff. 1/2010).

Protocols: Ministry to Adolescents (Revised 11/2009)

The Diocese of St. Petersburg Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable adults redefined who an adult is.  The age of an adult is now 18 years and no longer in high school.  Please click here to view the revised protocols

Did you Know?  
 Learn about the accomplishments of the Safe Environment Program in the U.S. Catholic Church




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