Lax oversight of in-home care agencies is opening the door for caregivers with criminal backgrounds to offer services to the elderly and disabled, according to a Senate oversight report issued today.
A Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes review of Craigslist.org advertisements for in-home caregivers uncovered five confirmed cases where the individuals offering services had extensive criminal records, including arrests for burglary, narcotics trafficking and prostitution. It also found that more than 25 percent of caregivers identified in media reports as being convicted or accused of wrongdoing on the job had previous offenses on their records.
"Without criminal background checks, these consumers may unwittingly open their homes and finances to those who have shown a willingness to exploit or harm others," the report says.
California is one of six states that does not regulate private in-home caregivers. While the state now screens workers providing care for the mostly low-income, blind, disabled and elderly Californians enrolled in the In-Home Supportive Services program, a similar system does not exist for private providers. The Legislature has approved legislation in recent years aimed at helping consumers conduct criminal background checks on prospective caregivers, but the report found that those services are not being used.
Authors of the report, whose office was established by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, issued several recommendations for creating more oversight in the industry, including launching a public awareness campaign to inform consumers of their options for obtaining background reports and establishing standards for agencies that claim to conduct criminal checks on their employees.
Read the full report in the PDF posted below: