Safe Environment Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who needs a background check?

    • In this diocese certain individuals are specifically obligated to comply with Safe Environment requirements, which include background checks (Safe Environment Policy, p.3) Those individuals are listed below:

      1.       Any person employed, full-or part-time, by the diocese, one of its parishes or schools, or any other organization connected with the diocese

      a.       Diocesan guidelines for employment apply, including those in the diocesan sexual abuse policy. (See Sexual Abuse Policy, Article 12.2.2).

      b.      Safe Environment procedures are required for each employee whether or not that individual is directly working with minors. Employees occupy a visible and important role with real or potential access to information, money, or persons being served.

      c.       Safe Environment procedures are only one part of the process for hiring an individual.

      2.       Adults participating in an overnight situation involving minors or vulnerable adults

      3.       Adults placed in a position of authority, trust, or supervision (of a minor or vulnerable adult)

      4.       Special circumstances: To address risks for a particular setting or event, the diocese, deanery, school, or parish may require Safe Environment compliance prior to any involvement.

      5.       Supervisory adults from other dioceses who are supervising at events within the Diocese of Owensboro must provide documentation from their diocese of compliance with their diocesan Safe Environment policies, as set forth by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

  • How do I get the background check done?

    • The main background check is completed by using the CMG Connect online portal for the Diocese of Owensboro.  A person can go to “Becoming Safe Environment Compliant” to learn more.
  • Are background checks only for those working with minors?

    • No. Volunteers working with minors need to comply with Safe Environment, which includes having current background checks; but Safe Environment policies are encouraged even for those working with vulnerable adults. In addition, ALL employees of the diocese, its parishes, or any Catholic entity that serves minors in any way, must comply with Safe Environment, whether they work directly with minors or not. Employees occupy a visible and important role with real or potential access to information, money, or persons being served. Diocesan policies require that background checks must be completed. The Diocesan Sexual Abuse Policy also specifies that no one will be hired or retained who has had a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor or if such a case is still pending against the person. (cf 402:18 no. 9.6.2 and 9.6.3)
  • How often does a person need a background check for Safe Environment?

    • A background check, training, and acknowledgment of relevant diocesan policies is valid for five years, at which time the individual would need to renew in order to remain compliant with Safe Environment requirements. 

    Are background screenings handled the same way for everyone?

    • No. While it is true that the Office of Safe Environment does a background screening for all employees and for volunteers ministering with minors and vulnerable adults, church employers and others utilize additional resources for further screening.

      The primary Safe Environment focus in evaluating background checks is safety for our minors and vulnerable adults.

      New school employees, under Kentucky state law, are required to have a Central Registry Check (of the states’ child abuse/neglect registry) completed in addition to other background check requirements.

      Employees and prospective employees at parishes, schools, and other Catholic institutions undergo other screenings because employees occupy a visible and important role with real or potential access to information, money, or persons being served.

      Per the Diocesan Sexual Abuse Policy, Art.12.2.2:  The completed Safe Environment background check is one condition necessary for those wishing to be employed by any Diocesan entity:

      • When a person makes application for prospective employment with the Diocese or a Diocesan facility, all references must be contacted. The reference must be asked for any knowledge regarding allegations of sexual abuse made against the applicant in the past. Documentation must be made of the responses given by each reference.
      • Applicants must comply with all other requirements as stated in the Diocese of Owensboro Employee Policy Handbook.
      • No one will be hired against whom a prior allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been substantiated.
      • No one will be hired against whom an allegation of sexual abuse against a minor is still pending, unless express written consent is given by the Bishop and the Review Board.

      Seminarians go through additional screenings, handled by the Office of Vocations.

      International priests coming in to serve the Diocese of Owensboro go through additional screenings, handled by the Vicar for Clergy.

  • How does the Office of Safe Environment evaluate the results of the background checks?

    • The primary concern within the Office of Safe Environment in all evaluations of records is safety for our minors and vulnerable adults.

      Other personnel evaluating background checks as a condition of employment may have additional considerations.

  • Why does the Church do background checks?

    • Background checks have been part of the hiring process for many years; however, additional expectations were put in place by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in Article 13 of their “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” where it states that dioceses are to:

      …evaluate the background of all incardinated priests and deacons…(and)…of all their respective diocesan and parish/school or other paid personnel and volunteers whose duties include contact with minors. Specifically, they are to utilize the resources of law enforcement and other community agencies. Each diocese is to determine the application/renewal of background checks according to local practice. In addition, they are to employ adequate screening and evaluative techniques in deciding the fitness of candidates for ordination (see USCCB, Program of Priestly Formation [Fifth Edition], 2006, no. 39 and the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, n.178 j).

      The Diocese of Owensboro is committed to providing a safe environment for all children and youth who attend our schools, parishes and other programs sponsored by the Diocese or its organizations.  Background checks are part of that effort.