Calif. Caretaker Background Check Policy Causes More Problems

The disabled in California have to go through two hurdles to get a home care worker with a clean background. First, a care worker needs to be available for the disabled individual, and as the state charges the care worker $50 to $75, the pool of possible in-home aids has thinned. The disabled individual, in order to make sure the caretaker has a clean background, needs to request the caretaker’s screening information, which is not automatically provided. The result, according to an article in San Francisco Weekly is a shortage of home health care workers who cannot pay the background check fee.

Although this 2008 policy has been enforced more recently to keep felons from ending up in caretaking positions, more workers who are interested in such jobs decide not to apply because of the large fee. As the San Francisco Weekly article explains, home care workers only get paid $12 per hour, and this fee for a background check would come out of his or her paycheck.

The disabled, additionally, have fewer care options. The 2008 program, as explained by the San Francisco Weekly piece, was put in place to give the disabled and elderly the option of living at home instead of at an assisted living facility. Instead, those needing care have to depend on a smaller pool of workers and are not given upfront information about a worker’s past.

The 2008 California law, instead of providing more jobs and more options for the disabled and elderly, inconveniences all parties involved. To have a greater pool of workers, the state should consider lowering the fee to a reasonable level – $25 to $30 instead of $50 to $75 – and provide background check information automatically to the individual needing care.