Training for Clergy, Employees, Volunteers and Children

Safe environment programs are in place to assist parents and children - and those who work with children - in preventing harm to young people. The following age-appropriate safe environment training programs are taught in the Archdiocese of Detroit

For Adults: Protecting God’s Children

  • New Employees and Recurrent Adult Volunteers
    • All new paid employees, stipend individuals, coaches, catechists, shared-time teachers, VBS staff, lunchroom/ playground volunteers, and tutors must complete:
      • A live Protecting God’s Children training, available either in-person or via Zoom
      • The online Vulnerable Adults 2.0 Module
    • The live in-person and Zoom sessions are two-and-a-half to three hours in length and include the Protecting God’s Children 4.0 module. Sessions are available in English and Spanish.
    • Registrants to the live sessions are automatically assigned access to the 40-minute online Vulnerable Adults 2.0 module, which they complete on their own time. The registrant can pause, save, and resume their position in the training if they cannot complete it in one sitting. Individuals in this category will receive certificates showing completion of the live module and the online Vulnerable Adults module.
  • New Intermittent / Occasional Volunteers
    • Occasional new adult volunteers who do not serve in a recurring role with youth (as listed above) may complete Protecting God’s Children certification either through a live session (in person or via Zoom) or by completing the Protecting God’s Children Online Awareness Session 4.0 and Vulnerable Adults 2.0 combined self-paced training module.
    • The online modules take approximately two hours to complete. The online modules are available in English and Spanish, with closed captioning and Polish or Vietnamese subtitles. The registrant can pause, save, and resume their position in the training if they cannot complete it in one sitting. Individuals in this category will receive a certificate showing completion of the combined module.
  • Recertification for All current Adult Employees and Volunteers
    • All priests, deacons, employees, and volunteers who completed a Protecting God’sChildren workshop prior to January 1, 2020, are required to update their certification by completing the Protecting God’s Children Online Awareness Session 4.0 with Vulnerable Adults Training 2.0 combined module. The module is self-paced and takes approximately two hours to complete. Individuals may pause, save, and resume their position in the training if they cannot complete it in one sitting.
    • Everyone who has completed a Protecting God’s Children session (even as far back as 2002) has an individual account in the Virtus platform. As such, please log into your Virtus account to begin your recertification. Please do not re-create an account. Instead, proceed with the username / password recovery option by clicking HERE or contact the Virtus Helpdesk at or 888-847-8870.
    • Once in your account, go to “Online Training Modules” and click “Protecting God’s Children Awareness Session 4.0 and Vulnerable Adults Combined.” 
  • Ongoing Triennial Recertification
    • All individuals will be required to complete the Protecting God’s Children online recertification module within three months of the third anniversary of their previous Protecting God’s Children certification. The Virtus system will automatically send to a participant’s email on file a notification to prompt them to complete recertification.
  • Annual Mandated Reporter Training
    • All priests, deacons, school administrators, teachers, catechists, and coaches are required to annually complete mandated reporter training. The module will review the current Michigan Child Protection Law, which due to central registry reform effective November 1, 2022, has seen extensive statutory changes necessitating comprehensive review. The module will also teach all mandated reporters the various methods available to report suspected abuse or neglect in Michigan.
  • Training for Local Administrators
    • At least one person per site must be identified as a local Virtus administrator. Live and recorded training is available. (See attachment for local Virtus administrator training.)
  • Please note that there is no longer a grace period for new employees or volunteers to complete a Protecting God's Children session and background check.
    • Individuals cannot be employed or serve in any volunteer capacity in the Archdiocese of Detroit until they have digitally signed the revised Code of Conduct, supplied background check information, and have completed the appropriate Protecting God's Children session.

For Children in Grades K-12: Empowering God's Children

  • Youth in Our Schools, Faith Formation and Youth Groups
    • Beginning August 15, 2023, Virtus’ Empowering God’s Children online lessons is the only acceptable safe environment program for school-age youth in kindergarten through grade 12 in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
      This online program is presented by teachers and catechists in schools, parish faith formation, and teen group sessions. Each instructs youth about boundaries, how to recognize boundary violations, how to respond to persons who violate their boundaries, and how to report such violations to parents, family members, and other trusted adults. There are two lessons each year automatically selected to ensure grade- and age-appropriate content.
    • Teachers and catechists are required to document within the Virtus platform when they present the lessons. This record-keeping will ensure that all the Archdiocese of Detroit schools and parishes are following the Safe Environment requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (The Dallas Charter).
  • Teen Volunteers
    • High school students who wish to volunteer at any AOD parish or school must complete Virtus’online workshops: Healthy Relationships for Teens 2.0 Online Module Expansion with SafeEnvironment Components. This module is accessible online through Virtus and is intended to help youth identify the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. The module also equips teens to follow a plan to do the right thing for themselves and others upon recognizing an unhealthy situation. This module takes approximately 35 minutes to complete. To access the module, teen volunteers need to register on the Virtus site. After inputting their date of birth, the system will know they are minor and will assign them the Healthy Relationships forTeens 2.0 module.
    • Certificates and/or notification of completion of the module will be available to local Virtusadministrators.

Coverage from Detroit Catholic: Safe environment programs, annual audits help archdiocese prevent abuse

Background Checks / Screening

Employees and volunteers help the church flourish and are crucial to our parish and school communities.  Our parishes and schools must be safe places.  There’s an assumption that churches and schools are filled with people who love children and can be trusted.  How often do you find children wandering away from their parents and other adults at a parish or school event, whether to the playground or even the bathroom?  Yet, in any place where a group of people is gathered, whether it be a parish or school function, a parish festival, or a regular parish event, there is always a risk of unwanted incidents that could harm children.  Running background checks for ALL employees and volunteers can help deter criminals and sexual predators from participating in any parish or school ministry or event.  If a criminal understands that they’ll have to undergo a background check,  they will less likely attempt to volunteer.  This helps weed out potentially dangerous people before they even begin serving. 

Regular background checks add another layer of security to keep kids safe.  Not allowing potential criminals and sex offenders around children is critical.  Completing background checks and rescreens protects children from harmful people and creates a safe environment for all.  Background checks can also help identify adults who should not drive children and vulnerable adults.

The Archdiocese of Detroit uses the Michigan State Police’s ICHAT system for most background checks in our parishes and schools.  The ICHAT is a simple process; it only requires inputting a person’s name and date of birth.  We do not need a person’s social security or driver’s license number.


Adopted by the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Pastoral and Employee Code of Conduct and Volunteer Code of Conduct outline acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for all clergy, employees and volunteers and all are expected to adhere to the stated practices. All clergy and employees are to receive the Pastoral Code of Conduct. All volunteers are to be provided with the Volunteer Code of Conduct or Promise to Serve Teen Code of Conduct.