Auditors have once again found the archdiocese in full compliance with the U.S. bishops’ standards for safeguarding children against sexual abuse, thanks to extensive efforts from thousands of adult volunteers in hundreds of parishes and schools.“We should be proud of all our hard work to keep our children safe,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez. “We have full and active participation from every parish and school. I’m grateful to all the volunteers in our parishes and for the efforts of our archdiocesan staff. We have put in place ‘best practices’ for child protection that can be a model for other institutions in American public life.” In recent years, the archdiocese’s child safety efforts have included providing training to more than 1 million children and nearly 200,000 priests, deacons, teachers, parents and parish employees and volunteers. In addition, the archdiocese has implemented a program of full background checks that has included fingerprinting 120,900 employees and volunteers who have contact with children. The archdiocese also provides weekly child safety tips in English and Spanish for use in parish bulletins. In 2012, the Archdiocese trained an all-time high of 30,272 adults through the VIRTUS¬Æ abuse prevention program adopted by the U.S. bishops. The archdiocese has been found in compliance in every audit conducted since 2004. The latest audit was conducted by three auditors from Stonebridge Business Partners in Rochester, New York. They visited eight sites spread throughout the archdiocese from Sept. 24-26, meeting with church and parish school staff members to check on implementation of child protection procedures as well as the establishment of safe environments required by the Charter for the Protection of Children issued by the U.S. bishops in 2002.Although a “live” in-person audit is only conducted once every three years, the archdiocese’s Safeguard the Children Office works year-round to provide child-protection training, consultation and resources for parishes to prevent child sexual abuse. New initiatives this year included the translation of the 10th Anniversary “Working Together To Prevent Child Sexual Abuse” brochure and “Responding to Allegations of Suspected Child Sexual Abuse” in five languages and also planning for the formation of consultative committees made up of representatives from different ethnic communities in the archdiocese. In advance of the on-site audits, 89 pre-audits were conducted by archdiocesan Safeguard the Children staff members to assure that all schools and parishes were in compliance. Parishes chosen for the live audit reflected the diversity of the archdiocese’s more than four million Catholics. Each of the archdiocese’s 287 parishes sent in a nine-page report on implementation of child protection and safe environment measures to the archdiocesan Office of Safeguard the Children, according to Joan Vienna, Safeguard the Children coordinator. “It was a great experience,” said Father Joseph Shea, pastor of St. Rose of Lima in Simi Valley. “We were able to share with the auditors our efforts to train the constant stream of volunteers cycling in and out of ministry. They understood the challenge and were impressed that we were constantly training volunteers involved with 60 different ministries. The auditors’ visit confirmed the fact that we are doing the right thing,” noted Father Shea.“The audit went really well,” commented Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Teresa Lynch, principal of St. Genevieve School in Panorama City. “It was helpful to us in knowing we had done all the requirements and that the children are safeguarded. It gives our school confidence in knowing everything is in place. Our students are being educated and our parents as well.”“The auditor was very professional and very thorough,” said Father Richard Hoynes, administrator of Japanese Catholic Center’s St. Francis Xavier Chapel in Los Angeles. “He walked around our place and asked questions of all the staff. No leaf was unturned. Thanks be to God, we had all our ducks in a row. Our parish is safer and better for children.”“It was a surprisingly delightful visit,” said Yolanda Brown, parish life director of Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. “It turned out to be more of a dialogue with the Safeguard the Children Committee. We were very prepared and organized and presented responses with confidence.“It was an interchange of experiences and an opportunity to discuss suggestions for improvement,” explained Brown, who added that parish members have been strongly supported by staff members from the archdiocese’s Office of Safeguard the Children who walked them through a pre-audit this spring.“What created more of a dialogue was when auditors heard from us that our motivation was not just being compliant with the law but the fact that we are driven more by love for the children entrusted to us,” said Brown. “They could see that in our discussion.”The eight sites involved in the live audit included Japanese Catholic Center (St. Francis Xavier Chapel), Los Angeles; St. Genevieve Parish/Schools, Panorama City; St. Rose of Lima Parish/School, Simi Valley; St. Gabriel Korean Catholic Center, Rowland Heights; St. Lorenzo Ruiz Parish, Walnut; American Martyrs Parish/School, Manhattan Beach; St. Joseph Parish/School, Hawthorne; and Blessed Sacrament Parish/School, Hollywood. To contact the Office of Safeguard the Children, call (213) 637-7227 or email [email protected].{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1130/audit/{/gallery}