| Safe Environments/VIRTUS|
The Diocese of Bridgeport has set new guidelines for all employees and volunteers with regard to the VIRTUS Protecting Godís Children program. Bishop Caggiano has asked that beginning immediately, all employees and volunteers of the Diocese must be VIRTUS trained and renew training every 5-10 years depending on their contact with minor children and/or vulnerable adults by June 1, 2015. They are also required to go through a background check. This is to ensure the safety of all minors at our parish and so that our parish complies with the Safe Environment Code of Conduct.
Safe Environment Handbook--Key Changes. 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 Executive Summary 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 Online and complete a live VIRTUS training session which lasts approximately three 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. Please refer to VIRTUS Online Registration Instructions.
- 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. Please refer to VIRTUS Online Re-Certification Instructions.
Volunteers and Independent Contractors who assist in adult-only ministries and have no supervisory responsibility or scheduled contact with minors 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. St. Thomas More Safe Environment Coordinator, Anna Bauts can assist you with accessing your USER ID and your PASSWORD. She can be reached at 203-655-3580 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com 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.
- Once Logged in, renew your criminal background check. Note, if you are not due for a background check, this option does not appear and you can go directly to the next step.
- Complete re-certification requirements by selecting Protecting Godís Children Online Awareness Session 3.0 located at the bottom of the page. You will need at least an hour to complete this portion, but note you may start the session and return at a later date, if necessary.
- Once you have renewed you background check and completed your virtus training there will be an opportunity to print off and save a certificate of your completion. Send this to Anna Bauts in the Parish Office along with your signed Executive Summary.
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 Coordintor 203-650-3265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Michael Tintrup LCSW 203-241-0987.
Questions or Concerns. All instructions are available on the Diocese of Bridgeport Safe Environments website. Any questions or concerns can be directed to our Safe Environments Coordinator, Anna Bauts at 203-655-3580 or via email email@example.com.