What is Substantial Contact with children? 


Substantial contact is used to refer to volunteer roles where the adult works in direct contact with youth on a regular and ongoing basis as part of the ministry, or in which there is potential for contact with youth outside the sight or hearing of other responsible adults. 

There are numerous and wide-ranging opportunities to serve the Church/School, a commonsense approach to determining who has “substantial contact” with child is necessary.  

Substantial contact with children can be defined as contact that is not incidental, or where the service is such that is reasonable to think that the person may at some point have contact with children outside the sight or hearing of other responsible adults. 

It only takes one of the two parts of the definition for it to be considered substantial contact

Whether or not an individual has the possibility of substantial contact during his or her volunteer service with children is determined by the pastor or principal. 


Some the volunteer roles that fall under substantial contact and are required to become compliant are the following: 


-Recess Duty 

-Chaperoning Fieldtrips: Yes, having oversight of other children. 

-Cafeteria Duty: Yes ,when the adult is in arms reach. If they pass out food and there is a barrier, then no. 


For example, if your pastor or principal has a reasonable suspicion that a volunteer could have substantial contact with children during that volunteer’s service activities then he or she is expected to be compliant and proceed  with the online background checks and other policy requirements of the Office of Child Protection. 

Do open events (anyone can attend) require substantial contact? 

The policy states that a person only must be compliant if they will have substantial contact with children that are not their own. 

Example: In the case of a festival where it is reasonable to believe that parents will be in attendance with their children the parents are reasonably expected to be watching over and protecting their own children. Therefore, a general volunteer would not have to be compliant in most cases, subject to pastor approval. Of course, a location will probably want to have sufficient staff and/or compliant volunteers to handle items such as maintaining secured or isolated areas, i.e., ensuring that secluded areas are monitored frequently, keep restricted areas locked, etc. 

What is the diocesan policy for having one adult take a child to the restroom? 


The OPCYP provides certain guideless which are applicable to all situations: at least two compliant adults involved in every program

We also provide recommended chaperoning ratios and enforceable ratios for certain types of events. This can be found in the Code of Conduct. 

What we do not provide is policy on specific situations. Bathroom policy is complicated subject for which we cannot possibly provide a comprehensive answer that is both sufficient to cover all needs of some locations while not contradicting the possibilities at another location. Too many factors come to play, such as whether the doors of the bathroom shut, or lock, whether the bathroom is open, the relationship of one (or many) bathrooms with respect to the location of the program, even the gender of the children, etc.

The decision for local policy falls to the pastor/principal to be made with prudent judgement understanding the needs for safety, security, and privacy. Take into consideration the needs of the children as well as any voiced concerns from parents or volunteers to ensure that all involved feel the matter is safe, handled appropriately and uniformly enforced. 

If there are concerns, being voiced by the staff or volunteers, it may be wise to review the current policy. If there is no clear policy or if the policy needs revision, the OPCYP is glad to provide advice to the pastor or suggestions to the parish staff.