Safe Environments / VIRTUS

Safe Environments / VIRTUS

All clergy, employees, lay ministers, volunteers and members of groups are required to be VIRTUS trained by the Diocese of Bridgeport.  They are also required to go through a background check. This is to ensure the safety of the minors of our parish and makes sure everyone complies with the Safe Environment Code of Conduct.

2015 Updates

The entire code of conduct was revised for the beginning of 2015. Please see the letter from Bishop Caggiano. Many people will now have to be recertified or be trained for the first time to cooperate with the new rules, including background checks.  This must be done by April 1, 2015. Please read below for instructions on how this is to be done.

KEY CHANGES IN THE DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT SAFE ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM 2015

THE SAFE ENVIRONMENT HANDBOOK:

All of the policies related to Safe Environment programs in the Diocese of Bridgeport are included in the 2015 Safe Environment Handbook. This Handbook replaces the 2003 Sexual Misconduct policy and the 2004 Code of Conduct.  The Executive Summary which applies to your role must be signed and provided to each location where you work or volunteer and it must be re-signed when there is a change in role or a change in diocesan location. Carefully read the Safe Environment Handbook, paying particular attention to the sections that apply to your work and ministry, acknowledge your receipt and understanding of the Handbook by signing the attached form, and return the form as directed.

VIRTUS AWARENESS TRAINING & CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS:

NEW PERSONNEL: Prior to working or volunteering, all new personnel are required to register online with VIRTUS www.virtusonline.org and complete a live VIRTUS training session which lasts approximately three 3-hours. The Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) criminal background check and an electronic acknowledgement of the Safe Environment Handbook is included in the new registration process.
RENEWALS: Effective as of January 1, 2015, all members of the Clergy, Religious Sisters and Brothers, Lay Employees of the Diocese (Full-time, Part-Time and Per-Diem) age 18 and above and all volunteers who are working in scheduled contact with minors and vulnerable adults must, every five (5) years, undergo a criminal background check and must complete online VIRTUS re-certification on child abuse prevention.
Volunteers and Independent Contractors who assist in adult-only ministries and have no supervisory responsibility or scheduled contact with minors or with vulnerable adults  must, every ten (10) years, undergo a criminal background check and complete online VIRTUS re-certification on child abuse prevention. Examples of the positions that fall into the (5) or (10) year re-certification requirement are available on the diocesan website.
The first step is to access your own VIRTUS account by visiting www.virtusonline.org. Each diocesan location has a local Safe Environment Coordinator who will assist you with accessing your USER ID and your PASSWORD. It is very important that you do not create multiple VIRTUS accounts. If you attended a VIRTUS training in the past, you should have an account.  You may contact the Diocesan Safe Environment database manager, Michael DiToro at 203-416-1407 mditoro@diobpt.org or you may contact the VIRTUS helpdesk at 1-888-847-8870 for assistance. If you do not own a computer or if you do not have access to the Internet, you may attend another live VIRTUS class and return your completed MYB background check authorization form to the Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Safe Environment.

ANNUAL CONTINUING EDUCATION:

All diocesan clergy, lay personnel and volunteers who work with minors are required to participate in annual awareness programs concerning Safe Environment issues.  Beginning in 2016, online opportunities will be made available to meet the requirements for ongoing education on protecting children in subject areas of technology safety, mandated reporting and additional subject areas that expand on the VIRTUS program.
For questions related to the Safe Environment program or to report suspected abuse of a minor involving a person from the Church, please contact Erin Neil, LCSW Director of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance Coordinator (203) 650-3265 or email eneil@diobpt.org or Michael Tintrup LCSW (203) 241-0987.

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  • Before you can volunteer, you will need to complete/submit the following:

    1. Completion of Virtus Course (we will need a copy of your Certification Card)
    2. Completed Background check Authorization (Document Link Below)
    3. Completed Signature Page (only) of Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Policy (Document Link Below; Please read and PRINT the last signature page for return to our office).

    All volunteers in our parish (lectors, choir members, religious education volunteers, etc.) need to take a free ONE time 2-3 hour SAFE ENVIRONMENTS VIRTUS training course before they can volunteer in our parish. The program is offered all year long at both the Catholic Center in Bridgeport and at all the various Parishes in the Diocese.

    If you have already taken this class at Holy Cross or another Parish, please let us know ASAP, so we can verify your status. You do not have to take this class again.

    The program lasts about 2-3 hours and is held both during the day or evening, so you can choose a day and time and location that works best into your schedule. We would encourage all new volunteers to take the course as soon as possible so that they can begin their ministries in a timely manner.  New volunteers to the Religious Education program are encouraged to take the course over the summer BEFORE classes begin in the fall.

    The class is free. To register for the class and find times/day/locations, please click the link below.

    On the left side will be a link for REGISTRATION. This link gives you the opportunity to both view the next scheduled sessions and to register for a particular class. When prompted for ‘organization’, scroll to Bridgeport, CT (Diocese). You must register for classes in advance.

    Once you have completed the course, you will be issued a Certification Card. You will need to give a copy of the card to our Parish Office.

    In addition to that card, we will need you to grant authorization for a Background Check and have you sign off on the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Policy.   Both forms are attached.  Please complete the Background Authorization form and return it to the Parish office along with a signed Acknowledgement of Receipts (Page 10 of the Sexual Misconduct Policy).

    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to the Parish Office at (203) 372-4595 

    Thank you for taking the time to volunteer!

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    Protecting All Children™ for Adults

    Every member of church staff, every parish volunteer and every contractor hired by us to work on our premises, even those not in direct contact with minors, undergo a background check and receive Virtus training from the diocese of Bridgeport.

    Parents, while not required are encouraged to take advantage of the training. There are two great reasons to do so:

    1. You will learn how to recognize if someone who works with your child is behaving suspiciously. You will leave feeling empowered to protect your children anywhere.
    2. As more people in our Diocese receive this training we will have increased numbers of eyes and ears that can spot problems and know when and how to alert the proper authorities. This will not only possibly alleviate a child’s suffering it may even prevent it.

    The class is free. It is offered frequently throughout the Diocese. (remote learning is currently offered) You can find out more about when there are classes and how to go about registering for one by visiting the Diocese of Bridgeport website where you will also find other resources for parents. Do take a look.

    Click below for the Diocese of Bridgeport Safe Environment Webpage and resources. 

    Diocese of Bridgeport Safe Environment Office

    Click below for the Diocese of Bridgeport
    2020 Safe Environment Handbook

    2020 Safe Environment Handbook

    Click below to view the Virtus Site and register for an upcoming training

    Virtus Online

    For more information about upcoming dates or requirements, please contact Eileen Burke
    in the parish office at 203-746-2200.

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    Safe Environments

    Safe Environments – Protecting God’s Children

    The Diocese of Bridgeport requires that all volunteers attend one three-hour session calledProtecting God’s Children. This includes: Ushers, Lectors, Choir Members, Teachers of Religious Education.

    Awareness training sessions called Protecting God’s Children for Adults are being held across the Diocese by VIRTUS trained facilitators. This is a special 3-hour training that teaches adults in the Catholic community to create safer environments and become part of the solution to prevent child abuse. This training has met with positive responses from parents and volunteers from across our Diocese. The training provides adults with awareness of the issues surrounding child sexual abuse and some important steps that we can all take for the protection of children. Adults learn about the warning signs of potential sex offenders and unsafe situations that could place a child or a vulnerable adult at risk of abuse. At every session adults learn how to respond if they should suspect abuse and how to make a report in the State of CT and in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Participants are provided with an overview of the Diocese of Bridgeport Code of Conduct and our Diocesan Policy relating to Sexual Abuse of Minors.

    To register for the awareness training please go to Virtus On-line and select Registration. Then select Bridgeport, CT. You will be directed to the most current schedule of upcoming sessions in your area. All participants who attend this training will receive a card as proof of attendance.

    All parents, grandparents, and interested parishioners are welcome and encouraged to attend Protecting God’s Children. Employees and volunteers from the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of Norwich are welcome to attend. Please notify your local Safe Environment Office if you are from another Diocese.

    Please visit the Diocese of Bridgeport website for more information.

    Please click here for parents to view with their appropriate grade level children the video that matches their grade level/age group. 

    If you suspect a child or vulnerable adult is in imminent danger from abuse, please call 911 immediately.

    To report suspected child (or vulnerable adult) abuse, contact:

    The CT Department of Children and Families  1-800-842-2228

    and 

    The Diocesan Victim assistance Coordinator within 12 hours of becoming aware of this information, regardless of when the abuse occurred. 

    Erin Neil LCSW : Victim Assistance Coordinator & Director of Safe Environments for the Diocese of Bridgeport:   (203) 416-1406  eneil@diobpt.org 

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The Diocese of Bridgeport’s Policy on Safe Environments

Summary of Safe Environment Requirements for all Clergy, Lay Employees, Volunteers,
Parent Volunteers, and Independent Contractors

Everyone who works or volunteers for the Diocese or any parishes or programs must attend an awareness training session and complete a criminal background check.

NEW PERSONNEL: Prior to working or volunteering, all new personnel are required to register online with VIRTUS www.virtusonline.org (click on “Registration”). At this point, you can view the upcoming sessions. To continue with the registration, click on “Begin the registration process”. On the next screen select “Bridgeport”.  You will be asked to create a user id and password.

The Mind Your Business (MYB) criminal background check and an electronic acknowledgement of the Safe Environment Handbook is included in the new registration process. If you do not have internet access, call Elva Giuliani (203.869.9393) to pre-register.

RENEWALS: Effective January 1, 2015, all members of the Clergy, Religious Sisters and Brothers, Lay Employees of the Diocese and all volunteers who are working in scheduled contact with minors and vulnerable adults must, every five (5) years, undergo a criminal background check and must complete online VIRTUS re-certification on child abuse prevention.

Volunteers and Independent Contractors who assist in adult-only ministries and have no supervisory responsibility or scheduled contact with minors or with vulnerable adults must, every ten (10) years, undergo a criminal background check and complete online VIRTUS re-certification on child abuse prevention.

The first step is to access your own VIRTUS account by visiting www.virtusonline.org.  Contact Elva Giuliani (203.869.9393) if you need help with accessing your USER ID and PASSWORD. It is very important that you do not create multiple VIRTUS accounts. If you attended a VIRTUS training in the past, you should have an account.

If you do not own a computer or if you do not have access to the Internet, you may attend another live VIRTUS class and return your completed MYB background check authorization form to the Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Safe Environment.

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