California Expands List of Criminal Convictions Barring In-Home Caregivers

nurse lifting patient.jpgOn Friday, October 8, 2010,  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a budget package that includes two bills, AB 1612 and SB 856, tightening the background check requirements and restricting individuals with certain violent felony convictions from working as caregivers in California’s In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program.

Previously, California law prohibited individuals from working as IHSS caregivers if they had been convicted of certain offenses within the previous ten years relating to child abuse, elder abuse or defrauding public assistance programs. The new bills expand the list of criminal convictions that bar an individual from working as an IHSS caregiver to include violent felonies such as murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, certain types of sexual offenses, and any sex offense where the individual is required to register as a sex offender. Recipients of IHSS benefits can sign a waiver permitting an individual convicted of these crimes to continue to provide services, but a waiver is not permitted for convictions relating to child abuse, elder abuse or defrauding public assistance programs. If a waiver has been signed and the caregiver is subsequently convicted of a new, waivable felony, the beneficiary must submit a new waiver to IHSS for approval. Caregiver-applicants with a criminal background that includes conviction of a listed offense also may submit an exception application that, if granted, will allow the applicant to work as a caregiver despite the criminal history. 

In addition, the new laws change the prior requirement that prohibited the state from notifying IHSS beneficiaries if their caregiver had been disqualified due to a felony conviction record. Now a beneficiary who intends to hire an individual with a record of the newly added offenses will be notified in writing of the relevant convictions. The notice will include a summary explanation of the new exclusions, a description of the process for the beneficiary to obtain a waiver, and the applicable waiver form, which is being developed.

The new rules become effective on January 8, 2011.

This entry was written by George O’Brien and Jennifer Mora.

Photo credit: AlexRaths

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.