Preventing Child Abuse Through Targeted Training
Training Programs for Children and Adults
Child abuse prevention training is essential for reducing the risk of harm to minors and protecting their fundamental rights. The USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People mandates that Dioceses and Eparchies maintain Safe Environment Programs which offer training in the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse and neglect. The Diocese of Burlington fulfills this Charter requirement by providing separate, age-appropriate training programs for children and adults to educate them in child abuse awareness:
Virtus Program for Adults:
Adult employees or volunteers who have direct contact with children or youth in the diocese are required to complete training annually through the Virtus program, in addition to fulfilling other Safe Environment Program requirements.
Circle of Grace Program for Children, by the Archdiocese of Omaha:
Children and youth in the Diocese must be trained annually in the Circle of Grace program, which is based in the Catholic tradition and fits into a traditional classroom learning model.
Please note: Parishes and Catholic schools may opt to use other programs promulgated by the Bishop for use during the current academic year. But the Circle of Grace program exists as the primary program used to train children and youth in our diocese.
- Bishop Christopher J. Coyne’s Letter of Promulgation on the use of these programs within the Diocese of Burlington.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Circle of Grace, the Virtus Program and the background check process
- Frequently Asked Questions about child and youth protection
- Review Board Members
- Stonebridge Auditors Letter of Compliance
The Virtus Program
The Diocese of Burlington uses Virtus programs to train adults in child safety curricula. The Virtus program is a child safety course designed to educate and train adults (clergy, religious, teachers, staff, volunteers, and parents) about the dangers of abuse, warning signs of abuse, ways to prevent abuse, methods of properly reporting suspicions of abuse, and responding to allegations of abuse. Virtus will automatically remind users to remain up-to-date with their training requirements. The program also offers a platform for parishes and Catholic schools affiliated with the Diocese of Burlington to have administrators run reports and check the status of users registered to their location at any time. Virtus training is completed online using a personal computer or other compatible device, and the training comes at NO COST to the user or their parish or Catholic school.
The program must be completed by adult employees and volunteers who work with minors in the diocese, including priests, deacons and seminarians; catechists, classroom aides and directors of religious education; Catholic school teachers, aides, administrators, sports coaches, volunteers and other staff; field trip and event chaperones; diocesan office staff; youth ministry leaders; camp counselors and more. New or updated courses will be required each year. Courses focus on the prevention of abuse and child safety. Users will have a different experience with the program based on whether they are a first-time user or a returning user.
- First-time Users: Click the “Virtus Login” button to access the Virtus login page. On the login page, follow the on-screen instructions in the center of the page and enter a new User ID and password, then click the “continue” button.
- Returning Users: Click the “Virtus Login” button to access the Virtus login page. Enter your existing username and password in the “Login for Existing Accounts” area in the upper left. If you do not remember your username or password, please click the red “Need login information” link.
The Circle of Grace Program
The Circle of Grace is a safe environment program for children and youth that is designed for use both in Catholic schools and in parish religious education programs. The program follows a traditional lesson plan format, and it fits in best to a classroom-style learning format. Developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha, the Circle of Grace is the fruit of collaboration among clergy, principals, teachers, school counselors, directors of religious education, catechists, youth ministers and mental health professionals. Sound in content and methodology, the program is designed for kindergarten through grade 12.
Circle of Grace’s curriculum is steeped in the truths of the Catholic faith and provides a holistic approach to the safety, well-being and spiritual formation of children and youth. It was introduced in the Diocese of Burlington in the 2013-2014 academic and catechetical year, and it is used annually as the primary safe environment program for children and youth in the Diocese.
To view the curriculum designed for each grade, please visit the “Circle of Grace Login” page. The password can be acquired by contacting your local parish, Catholic school or the Office of Safe Environment Programs. Each year, parents and guardians may choose to opt their children out of the program. Parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children, and we respectfully acknowledge their choice to opt their children out of safe environment training. Please note that the opt-out procedure is tracked and documented entirely through your local parish or Catholic school.
Circle of Grace Copyright
All Circle of Grace materials are protected by copyright by the Archdiocese of Omaha and licensed for use in the Diocese of Burlington through March 2023. Duplication, distribution or sale of all or any part of the Circle of Grace program outside of parish or school use is not permitted. Permission for any other use must be obtained from the Diocese of Burlington prior to access. Electronic or print copies may not be offered for sale or distribution to any third party.
Access to the Circle of Grace materials online is provided exclusively for the benefit of the priests, deacons, administrators, directors of religious education, principals, educators, catechists, classroom aides and volunteers of the Diocese of Burlington. It may not be accessed for sale or distribution to any third party.
Circle of Grace Disclaimer
The Diocese of Burlington makes all reasonable efforts to ensure the quality and accuracy of materials on this web server. However, to the extent permitted by law, the Diocese of Burlington accepts no liability for any loss or damage resulting directly or indirectly from the use of these materials. By making use of material on this web server you accept these copyright and disclaimer provisions.
Safe Environment Reporting, Compliance, and Yearly Audit Information for Local Coordinators
For more information about yearly audit and reporting information, as well as ongoing record keeping and compliance information, please consult the following link: