New State Rules on Caregivers Discriminatory, Hurt Seniors

San Francisco, CA—San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi will lend his support Monday to San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos’ resolution calling on the state to reverse its discriminatory new regulations governing in-home care for the sick, disabled and elderly.

Adachi will provide testimony in support of the resolution at the Board of Supervisors’ City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting Monday, Dec. 14, at 10:30 a.m. The hearing will be held at San Francisco City Hall.

California’s new regulations for in-home supportive services unlawfully bar anyone ever convicted of a felony or “serious misdemeanor” from working as a care provider. More than 22,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities in San Francisco rely on in-home care to avoid institutionalization and remain living in the community. Statewide, nearly half of home supportive services recipients receive their care from a family member.

The lifetime ban does not allow for case-by-case consideration. For example, a law-abiding citizen who had one felony conviction 40 years ago would be barred from caring for her 97-year-old mother.

In addition to cutting back on the number of available caregivers for San Francisco residents, the regulations take a critical choice out the hands of seniors and people living with disabilities.

“Low income seniors and others who need assistance should be able to choose their caregiver. These new policies violate that right,” Adachi said.
The broad exclusion, which was instituted last month by the state, is under a temporary restraining order while facing court challenges. That restraining order could be lifted as early as Jan. 29.

San Francisco’s proposed resolution points out that the new rules contradict local, state and federal law. Currently, only those who have been convicted of child abuse, elder abuse or defrauding government health programs are barred from work as a caregiver. Federal policy excludes people from being home care providers only for job-related offenses and makes it illegal to use absolute bars to employment based on conviction history. Similarly, San Francisco’s Civil Service employment policies require those with criminal convictions to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

“San Francisco has been a national leader in creating re-entry programs to integrate people with prior convictions back into the community. The state’s new regulations lock hardworking people out of employment that could be crucial for the survival of their families,” Adachi said.