Felons Allowed to Work as Caregivers for California’s Elderly, Officials Say

A rapist may be taking care of your grandmother.

At least 210 caregivers and applicants to be in-home aides in California will remain eligible to work despite their shady and sometimes violent pasts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

That’s because of a court ruling earlier this year that said only specific types of child or elder abuse or fraud disqualify a person from being a caregiver in the state’s In Home Supportive Services, which is intended to provide an alternative to nursing homes for low-income residents. As a result, people convicted of crimes such as rape and assault with a deadly weapon have been permitted to provide care.

Alarmed administrators and law enforcement officials are urging lawmakers to change the program’s rules, but so far any efforts have stalled in the Legislature.

Others argue that a criminal background shouldn’t necessarily disqualify a person from taking care of the elderly.

“I’ve had two providers work for me who had criminal histories who were two of the best providers I have had” said John Wilkins, a recipient of the services and co-chairman of a coalition of advocacy groups and unions.

“There is a lot of gray area. It is just not black and white.”

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About the author

Lilly Fowler is assistant editor at FairWarning.

2 comments to “Felons Allowed to Work as Caregivers for California’s Elderly, Officials Say”

  1. Anjeanette

    Not sure how I feel about this. I’ve found that the best thing for the elderly is to have a medical alarm system. I wrote about how having a medical pendant has allowed my grandparents to remain independent. You can read my post here: http://www.seniorsafety.com/wordpress/index.php/2010/09/20/keeping-your-independence-with-medical-alert-systems/

  2. stevefromsacto

    Given Gov. Schwarzenegger’s track record in grossly exaggerating fraud in IHSS, this latest pronouncement of a ‘public safety crisis’ should be met with extreme skepticism. Let’s put the issue in context.

    Even if all of these 210 providers alleged to be ‘dangerous’ felons had past convictions, that represents 0.00005 percent of the 380,000 homecare providers in IHSS. That’s hardly a crime wave.

    It’s also important to note that there have been no reports of a case where a caregiver with a criminal record has committed a violent crime against an IHSS consumer.

    Homecare providers, many of whom are family members or friends, have no interest in putting the people they care for in danger. Under current law, IHSS consumers can obtain information on the criminal background history of their providers or prospective providers. But Schwarzenegger has failed to provide needed regulations to guide the counties in implementing this law.

    Finally, if the governor is so interested in protecting consumers, why has he cut funding for Adult Protective Services and for the social workers that administer IHSS and tried to throw thousands of consumers out of the program?

    It should be obvious that, just as he is attempting to do with his outrageous, unproven fraud claims, Schwarzenegger is using this crime scare tactic as an excuse to cut the program, not to protect consumers. He is trying to do by administrative fiat what he has failed to accomplish in the legislature.

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