Safe Environment

Our Safe Environment Program

All members of the Church are called upon to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults in our parishes, schools, families, and local communities. In an effort to respond to this responsibility, the Diocese of Sioux Falls requires all adults and minors who are active in a diocesan organization to complete a safe environment program that teaches how to recognize and report abuse, and how to maintain proper boundaries. The safe environment program follows the guidelines and policies outlined in the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Diocese of Sioux Falls Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Who is required to complete the program?

ADULTS: All active parish, Catholic school, and/or other diocesan organization adults (aged 18 or older) who are currently or will be active as:

  1. Clergy/Religious Personnel: includes pastors, priests, candidates for ordination, deacons, deacon candidates, religious sisters, and visiting clergy
  2. Employees: includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees
  3. Educators: includes certified teachers, substitute teachers, and student teachers
  4. Volunteers w/minors: includes adults who have ongoing and/or unsupervised interaction with minors; includes parish religious education teachers/substitutes, and all chaperones. Also includes those who volunteer in a professional capacity, but are not around children, such as those who do accounting and maintenance.
  5. Homebound Ministers: includes those who visit the homebound to administer Holy Communion

MINORS: All minors (aged 18 or younger and who are enrolled in a Catholic School, parish religious education program, and/or family formation group) must complete a Bishop-approved, age-appropriate safe environment PK-12 Curriculum. Parental guardians may choose to opt-out their child from the safe environment program lesson, and if requested, be provided with a paper copy of the safe environment lesson being presented to their child.

Minors who are an employee or who volunteer and have ongoing and/or unsupervised contact with other minors must complete the Youth Code of Conduct and an age-appropriate safe environment lesson. Parental guardians of minor employees and volunteers cannot opt-out their child from the safe environment lesson.

What are the program requirements?

A Criminal Background Check is required for all adults upon hiring and/or recruitment and is a condition of new and continued employment and/or volunteering. The criminal background check must be renewed every six years through the diocesan-approved vendor in CMG Connect. A fingerprint background check is required for all new hires and student teachers in Catholic schools per SDCL 13-10-12. After six years, Catholic school personnel can renew their criminal background check through the diocesan-approved vendor in CMG Connect. Criminal background check results completed by other schools or vendors are not accepted.

The Annual Awareness Curriculum w/Code of Conduct is required for all adults who have ongoing and/or unsupervised interaction with minors, AND adults who are employed by a parish, Catholic school or other diocesan organization. This curriculum must be completed upon hire or recruitment. This curriculum must be renewed every year after July 1.

The Vulnerable Adult Curriculum w/Code of Conduct is required for all adults who serve as a Homebound Minister. If an adult is also an employee or volunteers with minors, he/she will also complete the Annual Awareness Curriculum. The Vulnerable Adult curriculum is completed every three years.

Summer Events, Camps, Missions: Adults who are hired or recruited before July 1 for programs that are only active during July and August, must complete the safe environment program at the time they are hired or recruited. If the person plans to be active after the summer program ends, he/she will need to complete the annual awareness curriculum that began after July 1 to remain compliant.

When do I complete program requirements?

Adults must complete the safe environment program requirements upon hire or recruitment, then every year after July 1 or before volunteering with minors and/or vulnerable adults. For best practices, current employees and volunteers should complete before October 1.

Where do I complete program requirements?

Requirements for the safe environment program are completed through CMG Connect, the diocese’s online learning platform. All curriculums that the adult is required to complete will appear under “Required Training” except for the Criminal Background Check curriculum which appears under “Optional Training”. NOTE: Each adult needs only one CMG Connect account; if an adult is active at multiple locations, he/she will use the same account.

How do I know if I completed program requirements?

After you have completed the curriculum in CMG Connect, the button below the curriculum will be green and read “Completed”. In addition, you will have the option to download a Certificate of Completion by clicking on the gray “Download Certificate” button beneath the green “Completed” button.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is safe environment web address?

How do I create a new account? Go to

How do I sign-in to my old account? Go to

Do I create a new CMG account every year? No, each adult should have only one CMG account.

This program isn’t working on my computer! This program works best in Google Chrome; however, some issues may be the result of your internet speed. Please contact your local coordinator to schedule a one-on-one training or go to for more information.

I do not have a computer or internet! Please contact your local coordinator to schedule a one-on-one training


Who pays for the criminal background check? Your parish, school, or diocesan organization.

I just turned 18, do I need a background check? If you are enrolled as a student in a PK-12 school, then no. However, if you are not enrolled as a student in a PK-12 school, then yes.

Can I volunteer without completing a criminal background check? Exceptions to this requirement will not be granted.

I just had a background check for my employer or other organization, can you use that one? No, we can only accept background checks submitted online through your CMG Connect account. Catholic school teachers should contact their local coordinator for special instructions.

Does the diocese review my credit report? No, only the criminal history is reviewed.

What is reported on my background check? Criminal charges and convictions. Our vendor,, searches local, state and federal law enforcement agency’s criminal databases.

I know there will be an offense on my results, what should I do? Past criminal convictions do not necessarily prevent an individual from employment or volunteer ministry in the Church. The Diocese takes into consideration the nature of the offense, how much time has passed since the conviction, and other factors when determining one’s suitability for ministry. If you are aware of an offense that may/will appear on your results, you are invited to self-disclose the details of the offense to the parish’s pastor or the local hiring/HR representative.

Why does the background check require the use of my Social Security Number (SSN)? A background check is required before any adult can volunteer or work on behalf of the parish, school or diocese. The CMG platform is secure and encrypted. The vendor,, is a professional company bound by federal laws regulating investigations into criminal histories. Your SSN is safe when entered into this platform. Your SSN will not be used for other purposes. Using an individual’s SSN to review a criminal history increases the search’s accuracy and reduces costs to the Church.