Divine Mercy Catholic 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 clearance 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 visit in our school 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 three hours to complete. Once you register and begin the course, you can save your work and restart at a later time as convenient for your schedule.
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. You will need to create a Keystone ID, and then the state will send you a password to the site. If you have used the Child Welfare Portal before, click on the button labeled “Individual Log-in” and follow the instructions. Fees are waived for volunteers. 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 Record 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. This process is free for volunteers. 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. 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 https://uenroll.identtogo.com Follow the instructions carefully. To register, you will need a service code. Code for school volunteers is: 1KG6Y3 You will be given detailed directions on how to obtain your fingerprints. There are two Johnstown locations where you can get your fingerprints. You may make an appointment on-line or walk-in. Locations and hours are listed below. Fees are waived for volunteers. When the process is complete, please 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.
Johnstown fingerprint locations include:
Advantage Resource Group
160 Jari Drive, #110
Johnstown, PA 15904
Phone: (814) 266-1606
Hours for walk-ins:
Mon-Fri 8:30 AM to 4 PM
(Closed 12-12:30 PM)
The Learning Lamp
2025 Bedford Street
Johnstown, PA 15904
Hours for walk-ins:
Monday-Friday: 10 AM – 2:30 PM
Also Thursday Evening: 5- 7 PM
4. Diocesan Youth Protection Forms
Finally, every volunteer must complete Application Forms from the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Please click here to download the updated 2020-21 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. Also: It is a good practice to make a copy of the completed forms and keep that copy for your records.