Arrests of 30,000 Caregivers Cause Backlog for Social Services Department
About 30,000 of the 738,000 workers who care for children, seniors and people with disabilities at state-licensed facilities have been arrested for various offenses since January -- about double the number of arrest reports that the Department of Social Services received last year -- causing a backlog of arrest reports to be investigated, the Los Angeles Times reports. When a caregiver is arrested, the social services department launches an investigation into the arrest and then decides whether to revoke a license or fire an employee, a process that can take months, according to the Times. As of April 1, there were 1,300 arrests for serious offenses and 1,750 arrests for lesser offenses that needed to be investigated, Rita Saenz, director of the social services department, said in a letter obtained by the Times. Saenz said that a "vast majority" of the number of reported arrests involve minor offenses like petty theft or creating a public nuisance. Of the reported arrests this year, 2% involve "non-exemptible" crimes -- such as murder, child abuse, rape and possession of child pornography. If not already in jail or fired, employees arrested for non-exemptible crimes immediately are removed from the facility while the social services department investigates the crime. According to the Times, the increase in the number of reported arrests stems from the use by most police departments of electronic rather than manual transmittal of fingerprints, allowing the Department of Justice to determine quickly if an arrested person works in one of the 87,000 community care facilities in the state. "We were completely unprepared for this," Saenz said in a request to the Legislature for $2.6 million to hire an additional 52 workers to handle the backlog of arrest reports. "If timely action is not taken, vulnerable children and adults may remain in substandard care facilities or under the care of abusive or neglectful providers," Saenz said, adding, "This really is an issue of public safety." However, with the state facing a $38.2 billion budget deficit, it is unclear if lawmakers will approve the additional funds, the Times reports (Fox, Los Angeles Times, 6/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.