Safe Environment and VIRTUS
VIRTUS - Protecting God's Children
VIRTUS® Protecting God's Children for Adults educates clergy, staff and volunteers who work with children about child sexual abuse and the ways to create safe environments for children. The three-hour session includes videos and facilitated discussions that focus on the prevention of abuse and the protection of children. Adults learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms that an adult is a potential risk of harm to children and how to know if a child is being abused or exploited in some way. You will learn about steps that the faith community can take to create a safe environment for all God's children and how to respond when adults behave in a way that raises concerns.
Who is required to take the class?
- All active priests and permanent deacons
- All seminarians
- All employees of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, including parishes and schools, regardless of position, ministry, part-time and full-time status
- All contract employees
- Volunteer directors/coordinators of religious education
- Religious education catechists and staff
- Volunteers in Youth Ministry programs, including Life Teen, e.g., regular drivers
- Volunteers in parochial and diocesan schools
- Coaches or volunteers in athletic programs
- Volunteers in quinceañera preparation
- Scout Leaders (Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.)
- Volunteers with children and youth choirs
- Volunteers in a parish nursery
- Volunteer coordinators/trainers of altar servers
- Volunteers that include an overnight stay, e.g., retreats, lock-ins, away from the child/youth's home
- Instituted Acolytes
- St. Vincent de Paul sponsored food pantries
Who is recommended to take the class?
Participants in other ministries are recommended to complete VIRTUS if, in the course of their ministry, they come into contact with children/youth. Such ministries would be:
- Liturgical ministers* (lectors, ushers, EMHC's, choirs and wedding coordinators)
- Food Pantry volunteers* (other than SVDP) where families with children are served
- Volunteers in any other public ministry* which carries with it an "implied trust"
*We understand that each parish is unique, and the final decision of who is recommended to take Protecting God's Children is up to the pastor of each parish.
What do I need to bring to the class with me?
All individuals who are required to attend a Protecting God's Children workshop must present a valid, non-expired form of Identification. Anyone with expired IDs or for those who do not have any of the forms of ID listed below cannot take a PGC or KPA workshop. No Exceptions.
The forms of Identification accepted are:
- Valid and current passport.
- Driver's license.
- Texas Identification Card
- Mexico Consulate Identification Card.
- Guatemala Consulate Identification Card.
What to expect at the workshop?
Be sure to arrive on time for the workshop, no one will be allowed to enter after the first video begins. You will check in by signing your name on the pre-registered sign-in sheet at the workshop. You will then be required to fill out the appropriate forms, and turn them in at the end of the workshop.
- All Volunteers:
- Fill out a Volunteer Background Check Form, and a
- Volunteer Code of Conduct Form.
- All Employees:
- Fill out a SE Workshop Attendance Verification Form,
- Volunteer Code of Conduct Form and
- Your Employer should submit your Employee Background Check Form separately.
Credit for attendance is only given if your signature is on the sign-in sheet and complete paperwork is submitted at the workshop. No paperwork equals no credit.
How will I receive confirmation of my attendance?
We do not issue certificates of attendance at PGC Workshops. All paperwork from PGC Workshops are submitted to the Archdiocesan Safe Environment Office for processing. Please be aware the approval process may take up to three weeks before being cleared to work with children and youth.
Once we have cleared the Background Check process and verified attendance of PGC workshop, you will receive an email stating that your attendance has been confirmed if you provided a valid email address upon preregistration.
To view or print your attendance date and confirmation sheet, log into VIRTUS Online and enter your user ID and password. This can be sent to you by the safe environment office or your local parish/school safe environment coordinator. Print the sheet that states "ATTENDANCE CONFIRMED" along with the date, time and location of the workshop you attended.
Keeping the Promise Alive
This is is a mandatory refresher course that went into effect 2011-12. Employees and volunteers are required to attend “Keeping the Promise Alive” after five years of attending the “Protecting God’s Children”® program. It is an hour and a half session with one video that provides ongoing awareness for the prevention of child sexual abuse.
The material covered in “Keeping the Promise Alive” is designed to identify and reinforce the lessons of the original “Protecting God’s Children” program by clarifying some of the more challenging aspects of the sessions and strengthening the participants’ ability to recognize risky behavior by adults in their environments and take action to intervene in potentially threatening situations.
Note: Do not create a new account to pre-register for KPA. Please log into your original account created when you attended a VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children® workshop.