Free Calif. Criminal Background Check Policy Confusing, Not Effective

If a home healthcare worker comes into your house, wouldn’t you expect that individual to have already gone through an extensive criminal background check? In California, this isn’t the case, however. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, a law that Gov. Schwarzenegger signed two years ago regarding this issue – allowing free background checks for home healthcare workers – has not gone into effect. Additionally, the state legislature has not issued standards and regulations, and local Public Authorities for IHSS aren’t certain about the procedures and approach for conducting background checks and don’t have the funds to do so.

Essentially, as the article explains, those who need a home healthcare worker in the state can request to have a free criminal background check done of the individual, but those needing a healthcare worker aren’t always aware they can or should ask for this done. The background check, additionally, isn’t always free. The law regarding criminal background checks was written to prevent felons from working in state home healthcare programs, but the implementation, so far, has been ineffective.

In addition to a lack of information for those needing a state healthcare worker, local agencies who should be conducting these background checks are also left in the dark. As the article explains, they have no money and no instructions from the state for conducting any investigations. On the other hand, the Department of Social Services Director, as quoted in the article, claims that those who ask will get free background checks on their home healthcare workers but then later claims they can’t because of a “conflicting statute.”

Aside from the fact that these state agencies and government offices can’t seem to decide the proper approach for implementing this law, those requiring such a state home healthcare worker shouldn’t have to request a criminal background check. Rather, this procedure should be an automatic part of employment, and convicted felons applying to such positions should be taken out of the applicant pool before even being given an assignment.