New Legislation Gives County Workers Access to Foster Parents’ Criminal Backgrounds

Governor Jerry Brown signed new legislation Thursday which will give county social workers new access to the criminal histories of foster parents and foster care contractors that they work with.

Under existing law, county child welfare workers are kept in the dark when it comes to the criminal histories of foster parents and employees who have received exemption waivers from the state. But under the new legislation, which takes effect on January 1, county social workers will receive access and explanations regarding past instances of misconduct which did not necessarily exclude the individuals from providing foster care.

SB 1136 was sponsored by State Senators Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) amidst a slew of scandals involving individuals who had received such waivers. The purpose of the legislation is to allow county social workers to make more informed decisions when placing a child in foster care.

“It is possible for government to better protect children while cutting red tape. Today our colleagues have agreed that this is the right approach,” Mitchell said.

In addition to the new legislation, state and county workers have undertaken a number of efforts to crack down on abuses by the foster care organizations they work with. Los Angeles County officials now require nonprofit care agencies to submit information regarding social workers’ outside employment to ensure they are not overseeing more than 15 children at a time. New requirements at both the state and county levels have also been enacted to prevent price gouging in foster-related real estate transactions.

Read more about SB 1136 here.