Circle of Grace

The goal of the Circle of Grace program is to educate and empower children and young people to actively participate in a safe environment for themselves and others

About the program

Circle of Grace is the children’s education component of the Archdiocese of Omaha’s Safe Environment training. It serves the dual purpose of educating and informing children and youth about the value of positive relationships with God and others.

Through Circle of Grace, adults assist children and youth to recognize that each of us lives within a Circle of Grace that holds our very essence in body, mind, heart, soul, and sexuality. Children and youth are taught to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.Circle of Grace is clinically sound and grounded in the Catholic tradition. Its strong parent component means parents can actively participate in their children’s education and formation.

 

Overview

After several years of successful implementation, testing and evaluation, the Archdiocese of Omaha is making Circle of Grace available to those responsible for creating safe environments for children. Already eleven (arch)dioceses have successfully implemented this comprehensive prevention program. Spanish and Vietnamese versions are yours free when you purchase the Circle of Grace program.

Those adopting and using Circle of Grace say it’s a user-friendly program with an invaluable “train the trainer” component. Plus, youth who have participated respond favorably.

Why commit valuable diocesan resources to invent a safe environment program? Our experts have done it for you – and the program works! Let us know you have any questions about this proactive and effective new program or if you want to review Circle of Grace free of charge for thirty days.

Sample Curriculum & Program Overview

Circle of Grace is one of the few programs that teaches:

  • God’s presence and assistance in difficult and confusing situations as an essential component in its K-12 curriculum
  • A philosophy that can be used throughout the year as a concept that reinforces God’s real presence in our lives, respect and skills of how to make good choices
  • The sacredness of each person and how relationships are called to be experiences of divine love
  • Beyond the “safe-touch” models by addressing the whole person thus is able to teach how boundary violations can occur through all of our senses
  • A holistic approach giving children and youth the skills to identify uncomfortable situations long before inappropriate touch occurs
  • Children and youth to identify the “trusted adults” in their lives in addition to their parents
  • Parents by informative letters, lesson handouts and education material

Circle of Grace is one of the few programs that includes:

  • A nihil obstat and imprimatur from an Archdiocese
  • Each lesson correlated with appropriate Catholic teachings
  • Evaluation results that show its effectiveness
  • Designated grade pre and post assessments
  • Summary evaluations that capture required information needed for the national audit
  • Philosophy and goals are consistent throughout the K-12 curriculum
  • Comprehensive and self-contained materials for each grade
  • The ability to customize the program with local contact information
  • Administrators section with all the information needed for implementation
  • An in-service to “train the trainers” for all who use the program
  • Curriculum in Spanish
  • Parent information in Vietnames

More Details

Concept

Goals, Objectives & Authors

Curriculum & Parent Information

Fees & Testimonials

Circle of Grace - Protestant Version

Through the Circle of Grace program, children and youth are taught to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundary violations are threatened or violated. Along with a strong parent component, the program teaches children that God is with them at all times, especially in difficult situations.

Learn More

 

The goal of the Circle of Grace program is to educate and empower children and young people to actively participate in a safe environment for themselves and others.

Learn More

Information about the Circle of Grace Curriculum, as well as, Parent Information. 

Learn More

Learn about the cost, and hear testimonials from people that have completed this program. 

Learn More

Circle of Grace is a safe environment program developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The program serves the dual purpose of educating and forming youth about the value of positive relationships with God and others.

Learn More

Concepts

Through the Circle of Grace program, children and youth are taught to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundary violations are threatened or violated. Along with a strong parent component, the program teaches children that God is with them at all times, especially in difficult situations.

Below is a summary of key Circle of Grace concepts:

God is “Present” because He desires a relationship with us

  • God is with us when we are happy and sad. God does not cause bad things to happen to us. He loves us very much.
  • God desires to help us when we are hurt, scared or confused (unsafe).
  • Having faith may not take away all of life’s struggles. It is because of these struggles,  God promised to always ” be present,” providing guidance and comfort in our time of need.

God helps us know what belongs in our Circle of Grace

  • Our feelings help us know about ourselves and the world around us.
  • God helps us know what belongs in our Circle of Grace by experiencing peace, love or contentment when something or someone good comes into our Circle of Grace.

God helps us know what does not belong in our Circle of Grace

  • God desires to help us when we are hurt, scared or confused (unsafe).
  • The Holy Spirit prompts (alerts) us that something does not belong in our Circle of Grace by giving us “a funny or uncomfortable feeling” that something is not safe. This feeling is there because God wants us to be safe.

God helps us know when to ask for help from someone we trust

  • God gives us people in our lives to help us when we are troubled or struggling with a concern.
  • God wants us to talk to trusted grownups about our worries, concerns or “funny/ uncomfortable feelings” so they can help us be safe and take right action.

Program Objectives

Children/ Young people will be able to describe their Circle of Grace and understand they are created by God the Father and live in His love along with the love of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  • God is with us when we are happy and sad. God does not cause bad things to happen to us. He loves us very much.
  • God desires to help us when we are hurt, scared or confused (unsafe).
  • Having faith may not take away all of life’s struggles. It is because of these struggles,  God promised to always ” be present,” providing guidance and comfort in our time of need.

Children/young people will be able to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries.

  • Our feelings help us know about ourselves and the world around us.
  • God helps us know what belongs in our Circle of Grace by experiencing peace, love or contentment when something or someone good comes into our Circle of Grace.

Children /young people will be able to identify all types of boundary violations.

  • God desires to help us when we are hurt, scared or confused (unsafe).
  • The Holy Spirit prompts (alerts) us that something does not belong in our Circle of Grace by giving us “a funny or uncomfortable feeling” that something is not safe. This feeling is there because God wants us to be safe.

Children/young people will demonstrate how to take action if any boundary is threatened or violated.

Program Authors & Endorsements

Circle of Grace is a copyrighted program of the Archdiocese of Omaha. It was developed by a committee of experts comprised of clergy, school principals, school counselors, teachers, directors of religious education, youth ministers and mental health professionals. Project Harmony is a community-based child protection center in Omaha, NE., their child interview specialist had this to say about Circle of Grace:

"Circle of Grace stresses the importance of not only inappropriate and appropriate behavior but also about boundaries and paying attention to what makes a child feel uncomfortable. Discussing the feelings that are associated with uncomfortable situations can be a great prevention measure when children are put into unsafe situations. Circle of Grace teaches children to trust their feelings and reinforces that it is okay to let a trusted adult know when they feel unsafe. As someone who talks to children about unsafe situations, it is great to hear children say that they told their trusted adult because someone entered “my Circle of Grace” and it made me uncomfortable”

~Suzie Mistry
Child Interview Specialist
Project Harmony

Circle of Grace is one of the few programs that teach:

  • God’s presence and assistance in difficult and confusing situations as an essential component in its K-12 curriculum
  • A philosophy that can be used throughout the year as a concept that reinforces God’s real presence in our lives, respect and skills of how to make good choices
  • The sacredness of each person and how relationships are called to be experiences of divine love
  • Beyond the “safe- touch” models by addressing the whole person thus is able to teach how boundary violations can occur through all of our senses
  • A holistic approach giving children and youth the skills to identify uncomfortable situations long before inappropriate touch occurs
  • Children and youth to identify the “trusted adults” in their lives in addition to their parents
  • Parents by informative letters, lesson handouts and education material

Circle of Grace is one of the few programs that has:

  • each lesson correlated with appropriate Christian teachings
  • evaluation results that show effectiveness
  • pre- and post-assessments for grades
  • philosophy and goals which are consistent throughout the K-12 curriculum
  • comprehensive and self contained materials for each grade
  • the ability to customize the program with local contact information
  • an administrators section with all the information needed for implementation
  • a training CD for all who purchase the program
  • a significantly lower cost than other programs

Click here to view sample activities and Circle Grace curriculum.

Circle of Grace has a comprehensive parent information section that includes:

  • Parent Introductory letter
  • Common questions of parents
  • Communicating to your child about sexuality
  • Tips for parents on keeping kids safe
  • Circle of Grace at home pamphlet
  • Information on child abuse and neglect
  • Resources

Evaluation

Circle of Grace had several critical phases of evaluation in the Archdiocese of Omaha. Feedback on the program during these phases was excellent. Revisions were incorporated at each phase based on the evaluations from schools and religious education programs.

Regional Contracts for established groupings of Christian Denominations (minimum of 50 entities such as churches, schools, day and after care):

There will be a lower fee per church, school or other for a 5-year contract.
The 5- year contract includes a hard copy and CD of the curriculum, resources, and any additional resources developed during the contract time frame.

Please contact Mary Beth Hanus (information located in the contact tab) if you are interested in purchasing the program. She will send you a copy of the purchase agreement to review.

Resources

The below resources are free of charge to those who purchase the program. They also will receive newly developed resources free of charge within the contract timeframe.

  • Template of the objective’s poster
  • Template for making stickers
  • Logo
  • Preschool lessons
  • Brochure (ability to customize)
  • Program Overview
  • “Let the Children Come to Me” book

Training

  • English and Spanish Leader Training CD
  • Live training available for a fee

Testimonials

“Our congregation was fortunate to be included in the initial evaluation of the ecumenical version of Circle of Grace. Teachers found it easy to use, children enjoyed the lessons, and parents appreciated the proactive approach material of the material. Circle of Grace provides a great age-appropriate resource that supplies the training called for in our child protection policy. It firmly links the protection of children with God’s will and provides children and their parents a common vocabulary for discussing concerns”. David Orr, pastor, First Mennonite Church, Lincoln, Nebraska

“Effective advance training helped our diocese to embrace the program. When you introduce a new program, having it presented from an “outside person” gives it credibility. The trainer, Mary Beth Hanus, was passionate and enthusiastic and her warmth won over the crowd. I am more impressed with Circle of Grace now that we have launched it in our diocese. It is refreshing to see DRE’s and school employees get excited about teaching safe environment! Circle of Grace has turned the process into a mission of “changing attitudes and hearts” and less about Charter requirements. We were most impressed that the program follows the teaching of our faith. What makes Circle of Grace the top choice in our diocese is the emphasis on relationships with God and others. We’ve seen the difference in our school children. We hear them using the language with each other on the playground, and we see them treating each other with more respect.” Renee K. Leach, Safe Environment Coordinator, Diocese of Sioux Falls

“Our church welcomed the Circle of Grace program as a way to help us keep our children and youth safe. Teachers appreciated the God-centeredness of the material and found the lessons easy to use. Children and youth responded with enthusiasm, eagerly engaging in discussion and role-play. Parents too adopted the Circle of Grace language and incorporated it into their everyday life. We look forward to continued involvement with this vital program.” Jeanette Harder, PhD, CMSW, Associate Professor, Program Chair, Grace Abbott School of Social Work, University of Nebraska at Omaha

“Circle of Grace is an excellent program in that it is faith-based and has all the components for each grade level.” Maureen Fontenot, Director of Human Resources/Safe Environment, Diocese of Lafayette. LA

“We were most impressed that the program follows the teaching of our faith. What makes Circle of Grace the top choice in our diocese is the emphasis on relationships with God and others. We’ve seen the difference in our school children. We hear them using the language with each other on the playground, and we see them treating each other with more respect.” Renee K. Leach, Safe Environment Coordinator, Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD

“Our participants were excited about Circle of Grace after the training. It is a wonderful program that equips each child with the skills to protect himself/herself. Circle of Grace is also designed in such a way that teachers do not have to search for ideas on how to meet children on their level. The program focuses on the dignity and holiness of the person. It was the easiest program to implement, because the directors were thrilled about it, which carried over to the parish. Our first year with Circle of Grace was wonderful. We received comments from teachers and DRE’s regarding the success of the program and examples of how children actually implemented what they were taught.” Dr. Faith Ann Spinella, Director of the office of Religious Education, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA

“The training empowered us to successfully implement Circle of Grace. Feedback on the program has been good. We first implemented it in our rural parishes. Due to the positive feedback, it was implemented in all parishes and schools.” Mary Frances Horton, Safe Environment Coordinator, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph MO

“Our impression of Circle of Grace is very favorable. The materials are user-friendly and everyone, once trained, seemed excited about implementing the program in their parishes and schools. We like the flexibility of the program because of the limited time we have in religious education. We have had a good response from those teaching the program.” Kristi Skrobarczyk, Safe Environment Coordinator, Diocese of Corpus Christi TX

“Even if Church leadership did not require it, the culture that we live in requires something like Circle of Grace. It is a perfect way to show that living our faith is a real adventure in the world in which we live. With Circle of Grace, faith intersects life.” Sister Judanne Stratman, O.S.F., Director of Religious Education, West Point, NE

“Our diocese had a strong desire to implement a safe environment training program for our children and youth which not only provided the traditional healthy/unhealthy boundary lessons, but went beyond to integrate the divine sacredness of each person. We believe we found it in Circle of Grace. The curriculum focuses on the fact that children are God’s precious creation, who are never outside the circle of His love and grace. Circle of Grace offers easy-to-follow, age- appropriate lessons which are sequenced for preschool through 12th grade. We are grateful to Mary Beth Hanus and the Archdiocese of Omaha “GRACES” committee for the development of this program.” Tom Tenerovicz, Safe Environment Coordinator, Diocese of Gaylord, MI

“Excellent feedback from the many schools that utilized the program. It was very successful and easily implemented. The program is very user friendly and effective. The Archdiocese of Omaha has been very helpful and available to answer questions.” Kenneth P. Gaughan, Director of Counseling, Archdiocese of Washington.

Fees

Individual churches (members include children/youth):

0-250 members – $250 for a 5 year contract

250-500 members – $500 for a 5-year contract

501-1,000 members – $1,000 for a 5-year contract

1,001-2,000 members – $1,500 for a 5-year contract

2,001-3,000 members – $2,000 for a 5-year contract

3,001-4,000 members – $2,500 for a 5-year contract

4,001- 5,000 members – $3,000 for a 5-year contract

5,001-6,000 members – $4,000 for a 5-year contract

6,001-7,000 members – $5,000 for a 5-year contract

7,001 plus members – $6,000 for a 5-year contract

 

Circle of Grace is a safe environment program developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The program serves the dual purpose of educating and forming youth about the value of positive relationships with God and others.

Through the program, adults assist children and youth to recognize that each of us lives within a Circle of Grace that holds our very essence in body, mind, heart, soul, and sexuality. Children and youth are taught to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.

This holistic concept allows children and youth to identify uncomfortable situations long before any inappropriate touch may occur. Those who molest children start to groom them by manipulation and secrecy. Circle of Grace helps children and youth to identify early on when they are uncomfortable with a situation and includes ways to seek the help of a trusted adult. The Circle of Grace K-12 Program goals and objectives are met in all grades. The program is self-contained for each grade with everything needed to teach the material.

Circle of Grace is clinically sound and grounded in the Christian tradition. Its strong parent component means parents can actively participate in their children’s education and formation.

After several years of successful implementation, testing and evaluation, the Archdiocese of Omaha is making Circle of Grace available to those responsible for creating safe environments for children. Circle of Grace has already been successfully implemented in many Catholic dioceses throughout the United States. It has been reviewed by several Christian denominations and successfully piloted. Curriculum is also available in Spanish.  Any Christian denomination who purchase Circle of Grace receive the Spanish translations free of charge.

Why commit valuable resources to invent a safe environment program? Our experts have done it for you – and the program works! If you have any questions about this proactive and effective new program or want to review Circle of Grace free of charge for thirty days, contact Mary Beth Hanus, manager of the Office of Victim Outreach and Prevention for the Archdiocese of Omaha. Call today!

Sample Curriculum and Program Overview

Circle of Grace is one of the few programs which teach:

  • God’s presence and assistance in difficult and confusing situations as an essential component in its K-12 curriculum
  • A philosophy that can be used throughout the year as a concept that reinforces God’s real presence in our lives, respect and skills of how to make good choices
  • The sacredness of each person and how relationships are called to be experiences of divine love
  • Beyond the “safe- touch” models by addressing the whole person thus is able to teach how boundary violations can occur through all of our senses
  • A holistic approach giving children and youth the skills to identify uncomfortable situations long before inappropriate touch occurs
  • Children and youth to identify the “trusted adults” in their lives in addition to their parents
  • Parents by informative letters, lesson handouts and education material

Circle of Grace is one of the few programs that has:

  • each lesson correlated with appropriate Christian teachings
  • evaluation results that show effectiveness
  • pre- and post-assessments for grades
  • philosophy and goals which are consistent throughout the K-12 curriculum
  • comprehensive and self contained materials for each grade
  • the ability to customize the program with local contact information
  • an administrators section with all the information needed for implementation
  • a training CD for all who purchase the program
  • a significantly lower cost than other programs

Click here to view sample activities and Circle Grace curriculum.

For More Information:

Mary Beth Hanus L.C.S.W., L.M.H.P.
Manager
Office of Victim Outreach and Prevention
Mercy Hall
3300 N. 60th St.
Omaha, NE 68104-3402
1-888-808-9055

Email