Sexually Safer Congregation Policy

Unitarian Society of Hartford Sexually Safer Congregation Policy 

Approved by the USH Board 7.9.19

Sexually Safer Congregations Team

The Unitarian Society of Hartford will have a standing Sexually Safer Congregations Team, which will include one of the ministers, the Director of Religious Education (DRE), a member of the Board of Directors, and at least two members of the congregation recommended by the Ministers and the DRE and appointed by the Board.  This policy, related procedures, and the current members of the Sexually Safer Congregations Team will be regularly shared with the congregation.

Background Checks for Staff

All staff, including the ministers, will have Connecticut background checks on file. All new staff hiring will be subject to Connecticut background checks and completion of the screening form and annually thereafter. New hires will be contingent upon satisfactory reports about sexual offenses and violence. All records relating to background checks will be kept confidential.

Background Checks for Volunteers working with Children and Youth

All volunteers who work regularly with children and youth in any capacity, including the Safe Congregations Team members, will be subject to a Connecticut background check before they begin working with children and youth and annually thereafter.  Volunteering with children and youth will be contingent upon satisfactory reports about sexual offenses and violence, and agreeing to our RE Code of Conduct.  All records relating to background checks will be kept confidential.

Two Adults in any Activities with children and youth

Two unrelated adults, at least one of whom has passed the background check (though usually both), must be present at any church activity with primarily youth under age 18 (including, but not limited to, classrooms, worship, youth group, youth outings, picnics, and potlucks).   No child should be left in a room alone with a non-guardian adult.   Except for meetings with professional staff with parent/guardian permission.

Social Media &  Electronic Communications and Youth

Any social media group where the congregation has an official presence is only open to congregants grade 9 (or equivalent) and above.  Any electronic or social media communications with children and youth must include the parent or guardian as well, unless the parent/guardian specifically requests otherwise.  All parent/guardians will be asked annually to give consent for (or opt out of) sharing of photos of their children.

People with a history or active accusation or conviction of sexual misconduct Congregants, staff, or any other adults using the building with a history or active accusation of sexual misconduct or abuse may participate in the life on the congregation only if they 1) inform the minister 2) agree to and sign a Limited Access Agreement created with the Sexually Safer Congregations Team limiting their participation for the safety of both children and the person, following the best practices recommended by the UUA.

Any person accused, convicted, or with a history of known sex offenses who will not sign or abide by their Limited Access Agreement will be denied access to all programs and services at the congregation.

Regular renters will be informed that they must inform USH staff if they have knowledge that anyone attending events or functions of the renter at USH has a history or pending accusation of sexual misconduct, abuse, or violence.  In such an event, renters will work with USH staff to come to an agreement for the protection of all concerned.

In all cases, we are committed to taking great care in respecting individual privacy concerns and detailed information will be shared only with the Sexually Safer Congregations Team. (Editor’s note: another copy of this policy is in the members-only section with the other policies: https://www.ushartford.com/members/policies/safer-congregation-policy/)