Local News

Triangle YMCA Gets Safety Audit of Youth Programs

Posted January 9, 2008 10:06 p.m. EST
Updated January 10, 2008 6:15 a.m. EST

— YMCA of the Triangle is taking steps to make sure its programs are safe. Within the past 30 days, two men with connections to the organization were linked to allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.

In response, the YMCA hired an outside company to do a safety audit of its youth programs.

“We are stepping up and examining our practices by hiring an outside expert to audit some of our after-school programs, youth programs,” said Jennifer Nelson, public relations director for YMCA of the Triangle.

A letter was sent home Wednesday afternoon with students at the Southwest Wake YMCA. It notified parents about Kim Kelly, a former YMCA employee who was arrested Jan. 4 for soliciting sex from a minor over the Internet.

“Actually, I'm kind of glad that they let us know that it happened. I'd hate to hear this somewhere other than here. I think that would be bad,” parent Rick Rich said.

“This particular arrest has nothing to do with the YMCA, but we want to assure them [parents] that their children are safe,” Nelson said.

Another arrest last month did have a YMCA connection. Police arrested Justin Taylor, twice, for allegedly abusing two children, one in 2006, the other in 2007, during an after-school program at Raleigh's Jones Dairy Elementary School.

Taylor's arrest led to the Triangle YMCA's reviewing its policies to make sure they are everything they can be when it comes to hiring and training, to make sure programs are safe.

In the meantime, the YMCA is conducting checks at after-school programs and starting a hot-line for parents who have questions.

“We have very open communication with our parents. We have communicated with them from Day 1,” Nelson said. "People come to us because they trust us."

That open communication is something parents seem to appreciate.

“I won't change anything,” Rich said. "They were very up front about it and I appreciate that."

Nelson said it is not clear when the external audit will be complete.