News & Resources

California caretakers stuck in Catch-22 when it comes to background screening

Feb 16, 2011 Matt Roesly

There are thousands of elderly California residents in need of caretakers to assist them in a multitude of services. However, those hoping to help such residents find themselves in a difficult position when it comes to background screening. According to SF Weekly, a state law passed in 2008 requires that all prospective caretakers undergo background screening. However, that same law mandates that such employees pay for their own background checks. That has presented a quandary for such workers, who are generally of lower-income status. The law requires that individuals fork over the $50 to $75 to pay for their screenings, though they may not be able to pay for it. "It's definitely caused hardship," Donna Calame, executive director of the San Francisco IHSS Public Authority, which oversees the caretaker program. "These are very poor people … the mean-spiritedness of the state law specified that it come out of the workers' pockets." The IHSS hopes a new agreement can be forged because of the growing number of residents 65 years or older in the state. According to its own research, California had more than 4.4 million residents fitting that age group in 2010.