California’s community care licensing program, within the California Department of Social Services, performs the essential function of protecting the basic health and safety of children and seniors in care. Budget cuts over the past few years and compliance procedures have resulted in a program that provides inadequate oversight and monitoring of community care facilities, which include family child care homes and child care centers, children’s residential facilities, such as foster homes, assisted living facilities, and other special agencies.
Prior to 2003, the required frequency of community care licensing division facility visits was annually for most facility types (and tri-annually for family child care). Currently, five years or more may elapse between site visits from the licensing program, which is hardly frequent enough to ensure minimum safety in an industry with high staff turnover.
Many recent news reports have highlighted the lack of frequent inspections in facilities across California and the dangers faced by children and elders. Seniors have suffered broken bones, deadly bed sores, sexual assaults and other injuries in assisted living facilities. Children have been victims of neglect, endangerment, unkempt conditions, and injuries. Of course, these are the most severe compliance issues; some facilities may have minor compliance issues but many, if not most, of these issues could be solved by having inspectors in facilities at least once a year.
AB 1454 would have implemented a phased in plan to require the Department of Social Services to conduct annual unannounced inspections of all community care facilities by July 1, 2017. By July 1, 2015 DSS will inspect facilities no less often than once every 3 years with a 30% random sample to be subject to an annual inspection. By July 1, 2016 DSS will inspect facilities no less often than once every 2 years with a 20% random sample. Annual unannounced visits are fundamental in protecting the health and safety of children and adults receiving care through facility or home-based care. Increasing the frequency of licensing visits will demonstrate that California is serious about addressing the deficiency in our inspection process and put California on par with the inspection procedures of other states.