This article describes our parish’s efforts to create a safe environment which protects children and young people.
As a community of faith and as individuals we have a responsibility for creating and maintaining a safe environment for children and young people. Because we take this responsibility seriously, we require that any adult (over 18 years of age) who volunteers to assist with programs involving children, young people, or vulnerable adult such as: our Sunday nursery, our Children’s Liturgy of the Word, our ccd or preschool program or our school or an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion to be a Virtus trained volunteer.
If you are not already a Virtus trained volunteer, we invite and encourage you to consider becoming one, so that we have abundant and trained volunteers for activities and ministries which are directed at our young parishioners.
Throughout the year there are other opportunities throughout our diocese to participate in a Virtus training class. This information can be found in our diocesan newspaper, the Messenger.
Our parish usually schedules a Virtus training class in July & August.
In order to participate in a training class you must:
1) complete and return a Volunteer Application to the church office;
2) read the 2015 Edition of the Policies and Procedures for Addressing Sexual Misconduct for the Diocese of Covington;
3) complete the 2015 Edition Acceptance Form and return it the church office;
4) register on line for and attend a live Virtus training class and conduct a criminal background check.
If you do not have access to the internet or an email address, which is necessary, we are able to assist you in this area. Please contact the church office at 234.5444. Also contact us to pick up the necessary forms, policy statement and directions.
Sometimes there is confusion about the Virtus program and what it means. The primary goal and purpose of Virtus is to create and maintain a safe environment for children and young people.
There are five steps in creating this kind of environment:
1) control access – in order to volunteer and have contact with or supervision of children and young people you must pass a criminal background check. Volunteers are disqualified if a background check reveals a previous conviction involving either sexual misconduct or violence.
It is also required that every five years a criminal background check be enlisted for all active Virtus trained volunteers. Some of our volunteers have reached the five year mark and so a background check will be enlisted for these volunteers.
2) know the warning signs about child abuse – that is why our ongoing formation is important. Reading monthly online Virtus bulletins and completing quarterly training modules are the ways to keep our eyes and skills alert to the signs of child abuse. This is also the way a person continues to remain an active Virtus trained volunteer.
3) monitor all programs & volunteer status – this ongoing step is important to make sure that standards for adult supervision and that each volunteer is in compliance with their ongoing training. Twice the status of every volunteer will be verified. This process will allow us to maintain a safe environment for children and young people.
4) be aware – while it is not difficult to maintain awareness of what is going on with your own children; it is not always easy to keep that close eye on other children. Each volunteer needs to be aware of all children under our care. We know that every child deserves our care and protection. So every volunteer must take this responsibility seriously.
5) communicate your concerns – be ready to report strange behavior to the appropriate person. Virtus bulletins and training modules address how to communicate a concern as a reminder of how best to address an awkward situation in the most effective way.
As you can see without the commitment of our Virtus volunteers, activities for children and young people in our parish and school would no longer exist.
Without active Virtus trained volunteers in our parish and school no one would be permitted to work with children and young people. In the name of our children who are helped by your efforts and your Virtus training, we THANK our volunteers!
Our Virtus program is the way all parishes in the Diocese of Covington create a safe environment for children and young adults. It is not an option. It is a requirement for any adult having contact (even just one time a year) and supervision of children and young people.
It is important for each of us, as individuals and as a parish, to make a commitment and to be vigilant in creating and maintaining an atmosphere which places the protection of children and young people in high priority.
At times we may forget the reason behind our Virtus program and lose our focus concerning the safety of children. We ask you for your full cooperation, understanding and determination to help us protect God’s children and young people.
PROCEDURE TO REMAIN AN ACTIVE VIRTUS TRAINED VOLUNTEER
To be compliant, you may not fall behind more than one monthly training bulletin.
MONTHLY TRAINING BULLETINS begin only after you have completed your live training session and all paperwork and background check has been processed.
Your bulletin will arrive by email from firstname.lastname@example.org on the first Sunday of the month.
When you are ready to read your bulletin, use these directions:
Go to www.virtus.org Enter your User ID and Password
Click on "My Training" at the top toolbar. Look to the right side of the screen.
Click on "Training Bulletin Report" rectangle on the right side to see your complete report.
Under TYPE, Click on "Click here for details"
Read the Bulletin you choose. Answer the question at the bottom.
Click on "Submit" after EACH bulletin.
If you have any questions, please contact Mary Grable at 234.6541
(instructions revised September 1, 2012)