An audit by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has found that local governments are not consistently checking the backgrounds of employees working in youth programs such as pre-school or afterschool activities, arts and crafts, exercise and fitness and summer camps.
DiNapoli said, "Failing to perform background checks potentially jeopardizes the safety of children. It is essential that local officials take action to ensure they are consistently screening all persons who provide youth program services in their communities. Parents need to trust that all of the necessary steps have been taken to keep their children out of harm's way."
Mary Whittier, Executive Director of Bivona Child Advocacy Center, says she isn't surprised by the audit's findings. She says costs associated with background checks are often prohibitive for municipal programs. Whittier says parents need to be their child's best advocate and ask before enrolling children in programs about policies regarding background checks and one-on-one time between adults and children. Whittier says if an adult is allowed to spend time alone with a child, that is a red flag. Whittier says one in four girls and one in six boys will experience some kind of sexual abuse before they turn 18.
A copy of the complete report can be found at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/swr/2013/backgroundchecks/global.pdf