Gov. sees ‘cri­sis’ in care­giver pro­gram

Los Angeles Times - - California - Evan Halper re­port­ing from sacra­mento evan.halper@latimes.com

Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger on Fri­day called the state’s in­abil­ity to stop scores of con­victed felons from work­ing in its home health­care pro­gram a “pub­lic safety cri­sis” and de­manded that law­mak­ers take ac­tion to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion.

The gover­nor made his com­ments in a let­ter to leg­isla­tive lead­ers af­ter The Times re­ported that peo­ple con­victed of such crimes as rape, murder and elder abuse are paid to pro­vide ser­vices for some of the most vul­ner­a­ble Cal­i­for­ni­ans in their res­i­dences.

Data pro­vided by state of­fi­cials show that at least 210 work­ers and ap­pli­cants with felony con­vic­tions flagged by in­ves­ti­ga­tors as un­suit­able for the In Home Sup­port­ive Ser­vices pro­gram are nonethe­less sched­uled to re­sume or be­gin em­ploy­ment. State and county in­ves­ti­ga­tors have not re­ported many oth­ers whose back­grounds in­clude vi­o­lent crimes be­cause pro­gram rules, as in­ter­preted by a judge this year, per­mit felons to work in the pro­gram.

In the let­ter, the gover­nor said nu­mer­ous at­tempts by the ad­min­is­tra­tion to “en­gage” the Leg­is­la­ture on the is­sue have failed.

“I am hard pressed to imag­ine that any mem­ber of the Leg­is­la­ture would al­low a con­victed sex of­fender to take care of their own grand­mother in a nurs­ing home,” Sch­warzeneg­ger wrote. “But if the Leg­is­la­ture con­tin­ues to re­sist mak­ing changes in the law, the Leg­is­la­ture is es­sen­tially say­ing it is OK for that to oc­cur to some­one else’s grand­mother in their own home.”

Leg­isla­tive lead­ers could not be reached for com­ment late Fri­day af­ter­noon. But of­fi­cials from the United Do­mes­tic Work­ers Home­care Providers Union, which rep­re­sents 65,000 home health­care work­ers in Cal­i­for­nia, expressed skep­ti­cism about the gover­nor’s mo­tives.

“Even if all of these 210 providers re­ported to the me­dia as al­legedly ‘dan­ger­ous’ felons had past con­vic­tions, that rep­re­sents .00005% of the 380,000 home­care providers in IHSS,” union ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Doug Moore said in a state­ment. “That is hardly a crime wave.”

But of­fi­cials at SEIU Cal­i­for­nia, which rep­re­sents more than 300,000 home­care work­ers, em­braced the gover­nor’s call for ac­tion.

“Putting vul­ner­a­ble adults in harm’s way … is un­ac­cept­able,” SEIU Cal­i­for­nia Pres­i­dent Bill A. Lloyd said in a state­ment, “and we are com­mit­ted to work­ing with the Leg­is­la­ture and the ad­min­is­tra­tion … to in­crease their safety, health, and well-be­ing.”

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