The Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Petaluma have a proud history of providing children in our communities with an opportunity to flourish and learn in an environment that is safe and fun. Thousands of children and young adults have taken advantage of the many programs provided by our clubs in Marin and Sonoma counties over the years, developing deep friendships along the way and making connections that last a lifetime.
Given the trust placed in us to keep our children safe and secure at all times, it was especially troubling to learn of the arrest of an after-school program director on child endangerment charges (“Boys & Girls Club employee charged,” April 29). While it is difficult to come to grips with the senselessness of the recent allegations, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Petaluma want to reassure our members that the safety of our children remains paramount. Indeed, our first and only responsibility is to the children — their well-being and security should never be compromised in any way. Never.
Since the arrest of the program director, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Petaluma have taken active steps to protect our children from future incidents. First and foremost, the employee in question was dismissed from his position with the club and a protection order was given from the courts to ensure he has no further contact with the club or its members.
Because investigators have accused the employee of accessing the club’s database and posting cellphone pictures and personal information about one child on an unauthorized website, we have taken immediate steps to tighten internal controls.
Password access to the membership database has been substantially limited, and we will no longer allow employees to use personal cellphones while on duty. Instead, managers alone will be given access to club-owned cellphones. We will also require all club keys and computers to be dropped off at club headquarters every Friday before the start of the weekend.
Although the employee in this case underwent multiple background checks before being hired, we will nonetheless be re-fingerprinting all employees in the coming days as part of our effort to provide additional assurances to our member families. In addition, all current employees, board members and volunteers will be undergoing additional background checks through the Department of Justice.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Petaluma provide care for more than 5,300 children in our after-school programs, many of whom are underserved and at-risk. The programs work to build character and instill confidence through academic and enrichment courses focused on leadership, career development, the arts, health, life skills and athletics.
Of course, we would not be able to provide any of these important programs if it weren’t for the generosity of our community volunteers and donors. Credit should also be given to our dedicated board of directors, as well as front-line support personnel who work with the children every day and ensure their proper care.
Be assured that the people behind the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Petaluma remain as committed as ever to seeing that the children of Marin and Sonoma counties are given every opportunity to achieve their dreams. We appreciate the faith placed in us, and we take our responsibility to our families and friends very seriously.