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[Note: this article describes a risk that does NOT affect clients who receive services from A Servant’s Heart Care Solutions. The risks described here affect clients of the IHSS program, which is described below.]
The Los Angeles Times published a blistering story today, taking the state of California to task for allowing persons whom the state knows to be violent convicted felons to work as home care workers in the IHSS (“In-Home Supportive Services”) program. The IHSS program pays for caregivers for persons who have low incomes and few if any assets, using a combination of Federal and State funds, when those persons are deemed to need such care.
Persons who can afford to pay for their own care generally do not qualify for IHHS but still need to make sure that the caregivers and personal attendants that they hire do not have criminal histories. That’s one reason why obtaining such care through reputable, certified home care companies is so important.
As reported in the Times,
“Scores of people convicted of crimes such as rape, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon are permitted to care for some of California’s most vulnerable residents as part of the government’s home health aide program.”
“State and county investigators have not reported many whose backgrounds include violent crimes because the rules of the program, as interpreted by a judge earlier this year, permit felons to work as home care aides. Thousands of current workers have had no background checks.”
“Only a history of specific types of child abuse, elder abuse or defrauding of public assistance programs can disqualify a person under the court ruling. But not all perpetrators of even those crimes can be blocked.”
“In addition, privacy laws prevent investigators from cautioning the program’s elderly, infirm and disabled clients that they may end up in the care of someone who has committed violent or financial crimes.”
The IHSS program was cited by the San Diego County Grand Jury in 2007 as “riddled with inefficiencies and has unrealistic expectations” because of the lack of controls and supervision over caregivers.
About half of the caregivers in the IHSS system are friends or relatives of the persons receiving care, who probably would know about past crimes committed by their caregivers. Since the recipients of care get to select their own care providers, they are hopefully making an informed choice.
Certainly, there are also many good caregivers among the others who work as care providers but the important question is, how do their clients know whether or not they are violent felons? The answer is, they don’t.
Politics and special interests play a big role in this, of course. As stated in the article, organized labor, which pays for much of the cost of electing Democrats in the California legislature, opposes reforms that would lower the number of persons eligible to work in the IHSS program. As reported in the Times:
“The SEIU is consistently one of the biggest donors to the Democrats who dominate the Legislature, contributing millions of dollars to political committees that the state Democratic Party and its leaders use to win legislative seats, register voters and even fund lawmaker retreats. Members’ wages from the home aide program provide millions of dollars in dues revenue that the union can use to fund such operations.”
For the complete story, see California has paid scores of criminals to care for residents