If given a magic wand, I would establish the position of CEO for the State of California. If this title goes to the Governor, we’re all in big trouble. It seems to me that no one is adequately overseeing the state’s some 137 departments.
The State Auditor and the Legislative Analyst’s Office publish reports of how various departments are doing. It would be sweet if the reports stated that the investigated department was so well run that it exceeds the national averages for similar agencies around the nation.
Regretfully, although the audit reports are honest and valuable, they are also gut-wrenching and aggravating to someone in leadership, like me. Because I know that it is highly likely that no one will do anything. There is no CEO to call in the department heads. And, if I have to manage through legislation, then that is a sad and lengthy process to right the wrongs.
So I vented in the front-page article in the OC Register below. I’m the closer and will not hold my breath until something is done to rectify the disturbing findings.
P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I was appointed to the position of Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector on March 17, 1995 and I was elected to this office, State Senator, on March 17, 2015. March 17 is a special day.
Are criminals working at state-licensed care homes?
They can still get clearance to work in these facilities
By Teri Sforza
tsforza @terisforza on Twitter
A woman convicted of identity theft was clearedto work as an administrator for an elderly care home, complete with access to residents’ sensitive personal information.
Another, arrested for committing a “lewd or lascivious act upon a dependent person,” was permitted towork for months in a senior home before California’sDepartment of Social Services learned of her conviction and forbade her from entering.
Convicted of pimping or pandering adults? Identity theft? Rape of an unconscious spouse? Rape under the color of authority? One can still get clearance to work in state-licensed child care, senior and foster homes in California, according to a troubling new report by State Auditor Elaine Howle.
“Social Services does not always obtain or review all appropriate information before allowing individuals access to facilities,” concluded the review byHowle, whose office is charged with keeping an eye on the machinations of state government.
The agency has allowed people to work with vulnerable clients even before their out-of-state criminal histories are completed; has inappropriately directed staff to ignore some minor convictions; and relies too heavily on an honor system where workers self-disclose their criminal histories.
The Department of Social Services is the statewide gatekeeper charged with evaluating background checks for more than 70,000 state-licensed care facilities that care for hundreds of thousands of Californians from Oregon to the Mexican border. The agency decides who can and can’t work in those facilities.
In the last fiscal year, the Department of Justice responded to more than 366,000 criminal background check inquiries for would-be care workers. More than 23,000 of them – about 6 percent – produced criminal histories that Social Services needed to evaluate further, Howle said.
But Social Services doesn’t receive all the information it needs to protect vulnerable clients, she said. Other local and state agencies with potentially vital information – police departments, courts, the Justice Department and others – often fail to promptly or effectively share that information, Howle wrote.
She recommended a host of changes to streamline the process and better ensure publicsafety, and called on the Legislature to add more crimes to the list of those that would prevent care workers from obtaining stateclearance. Crimes that should disqualify them include the pimping and prostitution of adults, rape under color of authority and of rape of an unconscious spouse, among others, the report said.
The Legislature should also require Social Services officials to wait for California and out-of-state criminal histories to be completed before granting people access to licensed facilities, it said.
In separate responses, the departments of Social Services and Justice largely agreed with Howle’s findings and recommendations, particularly as they relate to swifter and more complete sharing of information between them.
At least one legislator called Howle courageous, and bemoaned that her work often falls on deaf ears.
"Not getting this information to protect vulnerable clients is unconscionable. Not sharing information between departments is unacceptable. Not fully reviewing all of the required information is insubordination," said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.
"Allowing 40 individuals with arrests or convictions, without documentation fully explaining their ability to enter facilities where vulnerable clients are located, is a dereliction of duty. Not devoting time to the tasks at hand is unexplainable. But, if there is no one to follow up on the Auditor’s reports, then the accountability is hollow."
A CEO would jump in and work with Justice to improve forwarding information to Social Services, he said. But if the worst that can happen is that a legislator introduces a bill to tell these departments to do their jobs, where’s the incentive?
"Bad roads. Bad dams. Bad communication. Bad work product. Big raises. More tax increases. No wonder constituents are angry. I know I am," Moorlach said.
Contact the writer: tsforza
This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.
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