California residents can unknowingly hire private caregivers who have criminal backgrounds, according to a report by the state Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, California Watch reports.
California and five other states do not regulate private in-home caregivers. Although the state screens workers providing care for enrollees in the In-Home Supportive Services program, the state lacks similar screening procedures for private providers says California Elder Abuse Attorney Steven Peck.
Key Findings of Criminal Background Study
For the report, investigators culled Craigslist ads for in-home care providers and found ads posted by individuals with felony convictions for methamphetamine trafficking and major theft.
According to the report, some of the agencies approved employees known to have criminal convictions. Among 64 recent criminal cases involving caregivers, 27% previously had been convicted of crimes, according to the report.
The report also found that there has been confusion over how to implement a 2008 state law (SB 692) that allows seniors and their families to conduct their own screenings through the Department of Justice.
The law specified that public officials who recruit and screen IHSS caregivers could provide assistance to private employers. However, the oversight office contacted 26 such agencies requesting help with background checks, and all 26 declined, according to the report.
Authors of the report offered several recommendations, including:
- Creating a registry to let clients find independent caregivers who were voluntarily screened;
- Passing a law that would let consumer agencies disclose caregiver convictions older than seven years; and
- Educating consumers on how to obtain and read a Department of Justice background check
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.