By Anne Marie Amacher
New staff and volunteers at parishes, schools and other diocesan entities can now take safe environment program training online. And the five-year renewal program and Spanish for both versions are in the process of going online, too.
Mary Wieser, safe environment coordinator and faith formation director for the Diocese of Davenport, said Protecting God’s Children for Adults training sessions are part of the diocese’s commitment to remaining in compliance with the national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Live, in-person training sessions have been held throughout the diocese over the years and will continue to be offered in that format, but with less frequency now that the online version is available.
All employees and volunteers in parishes, schools and other diocesan entities must complete the training prior to their employment or volunteer service. “If someone comes in on their day of hire and does not have it done, they can sit down and complete it right there,” Wieser said.
Training takes about 1 ½ hours — depending on Internet connection speed.
Lack of access to in-person training sessions in the past may have prevented some individuals from participating in employment or volunteer activities. Online training provides flexibility for potential volunteers and staff members. “Now you can do it at midnight or 6 a.m. whatever suits you best.”
Wieser said another reason to offer online training is to accommodate the busy schedules of facilitators for the in-person sessions. She said diocesan personnel learned about the online training, tried it and liked it. “It asks questions at the end that you must answer in order to pass the class,” she said. “There are very good explanations of why certain answers are given.”
Another benefit: it’s easier to see who has registered and attended a session.
It will take a month or two to work out all the kinks before the five-year renewal program goes online for those who are eligible. The online version is being phased in. “Email addresses change. People change parishes. Those details all need to be worked out.”
When a staffer or volunteer completes Protecting God’s Children for the first time or as a renewal, a certificate can be printed out from home to provide to the parish or school entity. Volunteers and staffers are encouraged to keep a copy of the certificate as well.
One problem Wieser has learned about is that computers with dial-up modems take a long time to load the program session. She advises those with dial-up modems to take the online course on a computer at the public library or at their parishes which may have higher-speed Internet connection.
Live sessions will continue to be offered, but frequency will depend on availability of local facilitators.
For more information, visit www.davenport
diocese.org, click on offices to protecting children to safe environment. Then click on Frequently Asked Questions, which will give directions about signing up for live or online classes and further information.