Since 1993, more than 75,000 clergy, employees and volunteers who work with children have been trained in the provisions of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Decree on Child Protection. Since 2003, more than 45,000 persons have undergone criminal background checks, including 38,000 currently working with children.
Now, due to changes in the audit procedures utilized by the auditors from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the archdiocese is revamping and centralizing the record-keeping for its child protection programs to comply with The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People which was approved by the bishops at their Dallas meeting in June 2002.
Last year, the USCCB auditors asked the archdiocese to break down the thousands of the names on our records by category (priests, deacons, educators, archdiocesan employees, parish employees, volunteers, parents) in order to comply with the audit procedures. In doing so, the archdiocese learned that record keeping in parishes was inconsistent, and it was not possible to be certain that everyone who has been fingerprinted has also gone through the training as required before working with children.
Of the 38,000 fingerprinted individuals who are working with children, the required training in our child protection policies could not be documented for approximately 10,000 persons, mostly volunteers. This does not necessarily mean they were not trained, however. For example, approximately 5,000 names on lists submitted to the archdiocese were simply unreadable. The archdiocese is also aware of several incidents in which attendance sheets for child protection training were never kept by the parish.
As a result, the auditors found the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to be out of compliance with the Charter. Earlier, both in 2003 and in 2004, the auditors determined that the archdiocese was in compliance. What has changed since then is the record-keeping requirement of the auditors. Here is what the archdiocese is doing to come into compliance:
- Effective January 1, 2006, no one is permitted to work with children in an archdiocesan program until both a clean criminal background check and a record of having attended a training session on the Decree on Child Protection of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are on file with the Archdiocese. Previously, a person could begin after a clean criminal background check, with the training session on the Decree on Child Protection occurring later.
- If it cannot be established through records that a person has received training, that person must go through the training even if the person had already done the training but it was not property documented.
- Parishes were asked to have three training sessions by March 1, 2006 to make it easier for persons needing the training to receive it. The archdiocese will offer the training at its downtown Cincinnati office, 100 E. Eighth Street, monthly during the noon hour, starting in February. In the month of January 2006, approximately 2300 people completed the training on the Decree on Child Protection and were added to the data base.
- Each individual will be logged into an archdiocesan data base under a category matching the classifications desired by the USCCB auditors.
Since the archdiocese’s criminal background check program went into effect in July 2003, anyone working with children at an archdiocesan agency has been required to undergo the criminal background check. No one has been grandfathered. Seminarians must undergo background checks four times before priestly ordination. Any volunteer, cleric or employee going to a new place of service must undergo another background check.
The program, using National WebCheck technology that allows state and federal checks to be done simultaneously, has been demonstrably effective at protecting children. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, more than 350 individuals have been denied permission to work with children because the checks turned up offenses such as murder, manslaughter, rape, sodomy, felony assault, trafficking in drugs, domestic violence and endangering children. Two individuals turned down for service were later put on Ohio’s sexual offender list. Another was already on a sexual offender list in California.
On December 3, 2004, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro officially commended the archdiocesan staff members responsible for implementing the background checks. Because of the success of the program, more than 30 other agencies have the archdiocese conduct their criminal background checks, including employees from Cincinnati Public Schools, the Ohio Board of Nursing, the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services as well as other churches and non-profit institutions.