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Diocesan Requirements for Adult Volunteers – Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults


The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures originally established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in June 2002. Among other guidelines, the Charter provides standards regarding requirements for adult volunteers from the standpoint that no one has the right to have access to children. Thus, if individuals wish to serve as volunteers in a parish or Catholic school setting, they must follow diocesan procedures on background checks, safe environment trainings, policies, and codes of conduct.

The USCCB has found that background checks and safe environment trainings work1. Background checks both discourage potential predators from volunteering and they help deter past offenders. However, background checks alone do not suffice as a preventative measure. When used in conjunction with safe environment training, we can make the largest impact. Safe environment training is effective in helping adults recognize grooming techniques that are precursors to abuse. Beyond learning mandated reporting laws and how to report, adult volunteers are taught to recognize the behavioral warning signs of potential child abusers, which are also violations of our Diocesan Adult Code of Conduct. Remember, experience shows that one cannot predict who will be an abuser – even the nicest person can abuse.

In the Diocese of San Jose, all adult volunteers who serve in positions of trust with children and/or vulnerable adults, or minister to the home-bound must:

  1. participate in a Safe Environment Training AND
  2. complete the proper background screening requirements.

The Safe Environment Training may be completed through VIRTUS© online course at www.virtusonline.org. If you prefer a live training, please visit the website for the training schedule at www.dsj.org/opcva. The safe environment training certification is required prior to beginning volunteer service, and the training must be renewed every three years.

Adult volunteers must also complete the appropriate background screening. The Diocese of San Jose employs two principal forms of criminal background screenings:

  1. Live Scan Fingerprinting Submission
  2. Professional Background Check

Please check with your parish or school to confirm which background screening is applicable for your volunteer service role.

If you want to volunteer and are not yet compliant with all requirements, please take a moment to contact your parish or school’s volunteer coordinator to begin the process. The OPCVA is also available to answer your questions at (408) 983-0113 or via email at protection@dsj.org.

Thank you for your commitment to making the Diocese of San Jose a safe environment for all.

1 Ten Points to Create Safe Environments for Children. (2018). United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved from www.usccb.org.