ParishSOFT’s Safe Environment Program Success Story from the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls

Posted on June 21, 2016

by Dawn Wolf, Database Administrator, Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls


The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls first rolled out ParishSOFT’s SEP Manager in 2008. Initially it was used to track Diocesan youth events and their volunteers. We had two youth ministers on opposite ends of our diocese as our first online/remote SEP Manager users.

Our diocese hosts several weekend youth retreats throughout the year in various locations and started to use SEP Manager to track the adults that volunteer at these events.

When a background screening check and some other inappropriate behaviors raised a red flag for one young adult, we were able to flag the individual’s record in the SEP database and add a note to contact the diocese if the individual volunteered to work with youth. This individual was spoken to privately and it was explained that they were no longer allowed to volunteer at these weekend youth retreats.

A few months later the same individual registered to attend a weekend youth retreat on the opposite end of the diocese (a 4 hour drive away). While checking the list of retreat volunteers against the SEP database, the youth minister noticed that there was a red flag on the individual’s record and called the diocese’s safe environment office as requested. Diocesan and retreat staffs were able to be proactive and prevent the individual from even entering the retreat facility. We feel very strongly that with the SEP database program and the diligent staff who utilize it, we are in a much better position to be able to proactively protect the youth and vulnerable in our diocese.

Using SEP manager has saved our parishes and schools many hundreds of dollars in background check charges. In the past, when someone would volunteer for school and parish events, both organizations would order and pay for a background check. Now with SEP Manager central database, only one background check is run and paid for. In 2010, the Diocese refunded over $600 to one of our school systems because background checks had already been run by another organization within the diocese.

The time that the staff around our diocese has saved by not duplicating efforts has been noticeable. It has also helped us build stronger partnerships with our parishes and schools because we are all working in one database and working toward one goal, protecting the youth and vulnerable.

And lastly we have created much goodwill with our volunteers because we are not hassling them multiple times to fill out the same form over and over. They are able to fill out the proper forms once and it is tracked in the central SEP database.

Submitted by ParishSOFT User:

Dawn Wolf, Information Systems Director
Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls
523 N Duluth Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-2714