Safe Environment Office for the Protection of
Children and Youth
The Office for the Protection of Children and Youth is committed to protecting all of God’s children and providing a safe environment where children and young people can learn, thrive, and grow. The office oversees the training and background checks for all Archdiocesan clergy, employees, and volunteers. It also disseminates the Archdiocesan standards of behavior for individuals working with children and young people, provides safe environment training for children, young people and adults, and trains parish and school staff to monitor compliance with archdiocesan policies and the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Compliance Guidelines (English | Polish | Spanish) have been created outlining what is required of school and parish employees, school and parish volunteers, priests, deacons, seminarians, and pastoral center employees.
Criminal Background Screening
All employees must complete an online criminal background check for the Archdiocese of Chicago. [cite policy Book II, The People of God, Part I, Policy 603.2 LINK] All volunteers who work with children must complete an online criminal background check. The Criminal Background Screening is an online application through eApps that must be filled out in its entirety and submitted during the work/volunteer application process. Criminal background checks conducted for other purposes cannot be accepted. No one can begin to work/volunteer until the background check is completed and approved. An access code is needed to complete this application and can be retrieved from the location where you work/volunteer. For any questions or concerns regarding this process please contact your primary site (parish or school).
A criminal background check will not be processed on a minor (under the age of 18 years old) who is hired or wishes to volunteer. Those 18 yrs. or younger should not be left alone with children. They must be supervised by an adult who is in full compliance.
Code of Conduct
All employees and all volunteers who work with children must read and sign the Archdiocese of Chicago Code of Conduct and sign the Personal Acknowledgement Form prior to beginning employment or service in the Archdiocese of Chicago. This document explains the professional role that must be maintained when working with children and young people, the measures to aid in observance of protecting a safe environment, and practical conduct suggestions on what is and is not permissible. The signed personal Acknowledgement Form is to be kept in the personnel file or volunteer file at the place of employment/ministry. Click the following link in the language you prefer to download and print the form. This must be completed and submitted to the location you work/volunteer at the time of hire.
Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) Form
The CANTS form is an authorization form giving the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) permission to conduct a search in their database to determine whether an individual has been a perpetrator of an indicated incident of child abuse and/or neglect or involved in a pending investigation, as well as gives consent for DCFS to release such information to the Archdiocese of Chicago. This form must be completed and submitted to the location you work/volunteer at the time of hire. A completed CANTS Form is to be submitted to DCFS annually.
Protecting God’s Children for Adults Virtus Training
Protecting God’s Children for Adults is training conducted by certified facilitators on the prevention of child sexual abuse. The training makes participants aware of the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and five easy steps one can use to prevent child sexual abuse. Two videos are the centerpiece of the training: A Time to Protect God’s Children and A Plan to Protect God’s Children. The facilitators incorporate Archdiocesan policies and procedures into the training defining child sexual abuse, addressing the reporting of child sexual abuse, the screening and selection of employees and volunteers. “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 Website
All employees and all volunteers who work with children and young people must fulfill this compliance requirement. Anyone employed two months or longer who has not attended Protecting God’s Children cannot continue to work or volunteer in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Participants must be present for the entire training session to receive credit for attendance.
All Archdiocese employees and all volunteers who work with children create and maintain an online account with Virtus when they register online to take the training. After attending Protecting God’s Children for Adults training (must attend within 60 days of being hired) submit the certificate of attendance to the location you work/volunteer at, and continue the monthly ongoing education through online training bulletins posted to their online account.
- If you have never taken training: Click here to find and preregister for an upcoming training session and create a new account.
- If you have already taken training for the Archdiocese of Chicago: Log in to your account at www.virtusonline.org and make sure it is approved, activated, and updated with your current location, role/title, and personal information.
- If you have taken this training in another diocese: Contact the diocese you took the training in 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 Chicago and updated with your current location, role/title, and personal information.
- If you have already created an account, preregistered for a training session, did not make that session, and need to transfer your account to a different training session: Click here to view upcoming sessions, and be sure to use your existing account to transfer to another session. If you are unable to transfer your account to another session email the date and location you would like to attend training along with your Virtus user id to email@example.com.
- If you have already attended a training session but never created a Virtus account online go to www.virtusonline.org and create a new account. Be sure to choose the training session you attended from the drop-down box when asked. When completed, contact us to have your account approved/activated at 312.534.5206 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.