Felons in California may be working in home health care programs

Posted on: September 27, 2010

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling on state lawmakers in California to enact legislation  that would prevent violent felons from caring for ailing residents in California home health care programs. Unbelievably, current rules keep the department of Social Services from rejecting caregiver candidates with criminal records.  

A current Los Angeles Times report showed that felons convicted of rape, deadly weapon assault and other violent crimes have been hired by the In Home Supportive Services program to look after ailing residents. A court ruling blocks authorities from weeding out criminals. The Los Angeles Times says administrators and law enforcement officials have warned lawmakers, who have the power to change the program’s rules, that predators might exploit the loosened hiring rules. But efforts to fix the problem have been stalled in the Legislature.

There are at least 210 workers and applicants flagged by investigators as unsuitable to work in the program, according to documents examined by the newspaper. Still, they are scheduled to resume or begin employment. And background checks haven’t been done on thousands of current workers.

 State and county investigators have not reported violent criminal backgrounds because program rules allow felons to work as home care aides. They can only be disqualified if there’s a history of specific types of child abuse, elder abuse or defrauding of public assistance programs.  In addition, nearly half of the 400,000 program aids are caring for their own relatives.

However, Schwarzenegger’s administration had previously launched an effort to purge felons from employment in the program which is intended to provide a cost-efficient alternative to nursing care.  

Some 996 convicted felons have been identified as working or seeking jobs in the program since background checks started last year. Some 786 of them were removed or declared ineligible, but the rest are expected to be employed in the program. Unfortunately, privacy laws prevent warning elderly, infirm and disabled residents that caregivers are felons.


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