Divine Mercy Academy
Safe Environment Policy
Divine Mercy Catholic Academy follows today’s best practices to insure a safe environment for all children in our school.
We have a formal Safe Environment Policy in place to protect children from abuse, and it has recently been updated under the provisions of PA Act 153. The law dictates that all volunteers in school must complete necessary training and have all clearances approved and on file at the school/diocese before they can be permitted to volunteer in school. Please note: No clearances are required to attend school events for the public, such as Mass, concerts or graduations.
We know the process is cumbersome, but it it necessary, and we thank all of our volunteers for their willingness to help. It is deeply appreciated.
We will do everything possible to assist our volunteers through the certification process. The required training and clearance applications may be completed on-line by using a home computer and printer. We also have paper copies of all clearance forms available for pick-up in each of our campus offices.
Also if you wish, we can arrange for you to use a secure school computer for the on-line training and required certifications. Please contact the principal of the campus where you wish to volunteer for an appointment to use a school computer. THANK YOU.
As an adult interacting with school children, it is important to understand that you are mandated to report any child abuse you may observe. This is a great responsibility, and specific training is required.
All volunteers (including those who simply want to come into our school as a visitor for events such as Parent or Grandparent Lunches), must complete an on-line training program provided by the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. This course takes approximately one hour to complete.
Volunteers who want to work directly with children in responsible supervisory roles such as Homeroom Parent or Field Trip Chaperone, must also complete a second on-line course provided by the University of Pittsburgh. This training takes approximately two hours to complete.
When you first log-on to each of the courses, you are asked to enter your email address and create a password. When the training is successfully completed, an on-line certificate will be generated. Volunteers must print two copies of each completion certificate. They should keep one copy of each certificate for their own records and deliver a copy of each certificate to the office of the school where they will be volunteering.
Please click the buttons below for the links to the two required training courses.
Legal Forms to be Completed by all Volunteers
In addition to the required on-line training courses, every volunteer must obtain certain legal clearance certificates from state and federal government before they can be approved to come into our school and interact with our children. To receive the certificates, you must submit a formal application which the government agency then processes before sending you a certificate. This is usually done on-line, but you may also pick up paper copies of the government forms at your campus office, fill them in and mail them to the agency. Addresses are given on the forms. Processing the forms may take several days. In some cases you will receive a certificate via return e-mail; in other cases certificates will be sent to you via the US Postal Service. The clearances you need are:
1. PA Child Abuse Clearance (Act 151)
To apply on-line, please go to https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home. This will take you to the Pennsylvania Child Welfare portal. If you are a new user, click on the button labeled “Create Individual Account” and follow the instructions. If you have used the Child Welfare Portal before, click on the button labeled “Individual Log-in” and follow the instructions. When the process is completed and you receive your Child Abuse History Clearance, print two copies of it, keep one copy for your records and submit the other to the school where you will be volunteering.
2. PA Criminal History Check (Act 34)
To apply on-line, please go to https://epatch.state.pa.us/ and click the yellow button labeled “New Record Check.” This will take you to several other screens. Follow instructions to complete the requested information. When the process is completed and you receive your Certificate, print two copies of it, keep one copy for your records and submit the other to the school where you will be volunteering.
3. Arrest / Conviction Report and Certification (Act 24)
Click here to download and print this document (PDE-6004). Read and follow the instructions to complete, then print two copies of the form. Please keep one copy for your records and submit the other to the campus where you will be volunteering. Please understand that by signing this form, you obligate yourself to notify the Diocesan Office of Education within 72 hours if you should be arrested or convicted of a reportable offense, as listed on page 3 of the Form.
4. Fingerprint Check (Act 114) (if applicable)
Volunteers who are currently residents of Pennsylvania but have not been a resident for a full 10 years will need to obtain an FBI clearance check, which includes fingerprinting. If you need to obtain this FBI clearance, please visit www.pa.cogentid.com. Choose the PA Department of Education option to begin your registration. Follow the instructions carefully. You will be given detailed directions on how to obtain your fingerprints at a nearby location. When the process is complete, make two copies of your completed form (containing your fingerprints), keep one copy for your records and submit the other to the school where you will be volunteering.
5-8. Diocesan Youth Protection Forms
Finally every volunteer must complete four documents from the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Please click here to download the Diocesan Forms. Complete these forms and deliver them to the office of the campus where you will be volunteering. The school will then submit all forms to the Diocese for processing.