Effective January 1, 2016, the Archdiocese of Atlanta began utilizing VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children for Safe Environment training, which replaced the You Matter custom program. VIRTUS is a nationally recognized vendor utilized by 120 dioceses across the United States, offering a comprehensive program including Safe Environment training for adults, children and youth. VIRTUS also provides a convenient way for participants to register for training sessions, and allows participants to read and sign Safe Environment policies online.
The VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children Program incorporates proven best practice standards for the prevention of child sexual abuse by clergy, staff, volunteers, and others who interact with children within the Catholic Church and School environments. Participants are made aware of the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and are presented with five easy steps to prevent child sexual abuse. Two videos are the centerpiece of the training. Facilitators incorporate Archdiocesan policies and procedures into the training, defining child sexual abuse and addressing the legal requirements of reporting child sexual abuse.
“The VIRTUS training program implements safety mechanisms that send a message to all abusers and potential abusers: Child Abuse is not tolerated. Children are vigilantly protected. Victims are listened to, heard, and shielded from further abuse. And offenders are identified and punished.” – VIRTUS Online Website
Recognizing that each individual is created by God, the Archdiocese of Atlanta is committed to the safety and well-being of its children and vulnerable adults and implements procedures to minimize risk and barriers to build and foster a culture of a safe environment. Requiring clergy, employees, and volunteers working with children and/or vulnerable individuals to attend the VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training is part of a comprehensive Safe Environment training package.
The Archdiocese does not tolerate abuse or neglect of anyone. It will comply with all obligations of civil and Canon Law; it will promote healing where it is needed, provide education, training and guidance when it is appropriate, and endeavor to prevent any abuse of minors or vulnerable adults with firm justice and mercy towards all.
Current clergy members, employees and volunteers who have already completed the Safe Environment requirements in the last five years will NOT be required to attend a Protecting God’s Children training session UNTIL your Safe Environment clearance is nearing expiration. For example, if John Doe has a Safe Environment clearance dated 01/01/2012, he will be due for the Protecting God’s Children training on 01/01/2017.
Individuals will be notified by their Safe Environment Coordinator when it is time to renew their background screening and/or take the refresher course: both are required to be renewed every five years.
New clergy, employees, and volunteers working with children and/or vulnerable individuals must attend a VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children training before they begin paid or volunteer work for the Archdiocese of Atlanta or within 60 days of their scheduled start date*. Continuing Education training consists of monthly bulletins sent via email to each user after attending a VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children.
*The 60 day grace period is ONLY applicable for employees and/or volunteers who DO NOT work with children and/or vulnerable adults.
Please note that background screenings will be renewed every five years.
Every parish and school in the Archdiocese of Atlanta has a designated Safe Environment coordinator who will be assisting employees, volunteers and parents with this transition. Please do not hesitate to contact your parish/school coordinator or the Safe Environment office with your questions or concerns.
You can review all available VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children (PGC) sessions scheduled within the Archdiocese of Atlanta by using the Session Calendar and Search box below. You may attend any session convenient to you as long as it is not listed for a certain group or location exclusively. You will know if a session is reserved for a specific group if it is included in the session’s notes.
The VIRTUS PGC Session Calendar will show all the dates in which a VIRTUS session is scheduled in bold. By clicking on the bold day numbers you can view the date time and location of the VIRTUS PGC session. The Search for VIRTUS PGC sessions allows you to set search for sessions in a specific date range, by proximity to a specific zip code, by language (Categories), or by parish/school name (Locations). Once you complete the fields, click Submit Search and a list of available sessions will appear on a separate window.
To register for a session, please follow the instructions in the section below, HOW DO I PRE-REGISTER FOR A VIRTUS PROTECTING GOD’S CHILDREN TRAINING SESSION?
A summarized version of the registration steps are listed below:
Those who have already attended a Protecting God’s Children training session in another diocese will not be required to retake it since VIRTUS training records are transferrable within dioceses in the United States. However, they may be required to attend a refresher course depending on the date of their last VIRTUS training.
Contact the diocese in which you attended the training and confirm that you have established an approved and active account with them. Then contact VIRTUS at 888-847-8870 to have your account transferred to the Archdiocese of Atlanta and updated with your current location, role/title, and personal information.
As always and on behalf of Archbishop Gregory, we thank you for your commitment to keep our parishes and schools safe for our children, youth, vulnerable adults and our entire community.