Background Checks for Prospective Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Caregivers - California

Date: September 2018

Who Needs Records Checks

Citation: Hlth. & Saf. Code §§ 1522; 1522.1; 1596.871; Fam. Code § 8730

The following persons or entities are required to have records checks:

  • Applicants for licensure or approval to provide direct-care services in a community care facility, foster family home, or a certified family home or resource family of a licensed foster family agency
  • Any person, other than a client, residing in the facility or certified family home
  • Any staff person, volunteer, or employee who has contact with the clients
  • Any prospective licensed or certified foster parent, adoptive parent, or any person age 18 or older residing in the household
  • A person seeking licensure or approval to operate or provide direct care services in a child care center or family child care home

Records checks also are required as part of an abbreviated adoption home study assessment for any of the following:

  • A licensed or certified foster parent with whom the child has lived for a minimum of 6 months
  • An approved relative caregiver or nonrelated extended family member with whom the child has had an ongoing and significant relationship
  • A court-appointed relative guardian of the child who has been investigated and approved pursuant to the guardianship investigation process and has had physical custody of the child for at least 1 year
  • A prospective adoptive parent who has completed an agency-supervised adoption within the last 2 years

Types of Records That Must Be Checked

Citation: Hlth. & Saf. Code §§ 1522; 1522.1

The following checks are required:

  • A fingerprint-based State and Federal criminal records checks
  • The previous employment history of persons required to be fingerprinted
  • A check of the Child Abuse Central Index
  • A check of the child abuse and neglect registry for any prospective foster parent, adoptive parent, or household member age 18 or older who has lived in another State in the preceding 5 years

Process for Obtaining Records Checks

Citation: Hlth. & Saf. Code § 1522

An individual shall be required to obtain either a criminal record clearance or a criminal record exemption from the Department of Social Services before his or her initial presence in a community care facility or certified family home.

The department shall secure from an appropriate law enforcement agency a criminal record to determine whether the applicant or any other person has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation. The criminal history information shall include the full criminal record, if any, of those persons and subsequent arrest information pursuant to § 11105.2 of the Penal Code.

In addition, an applicant shall submit fingerprint images and related information to the Department of Justice for the purpose of searching the criminal records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Department of Social Services shall develop procedures to provide the individual's State and Federal criminal history information with the written notification of his or her exemption denial or revocation based on the criminal record. Receipt of the criminal history information shall be optional on the part of the individual, as set forth in the agency's procedures. The procedure shall protect the confidentiality and privacy of the individual's record, and the criminal history information shall not be made available to the employer.

Grounds for Disqualification

Citation: Hlth. & Saf. Code § 1522

The department shall determine whether the applicant or any adult member of the applicant's household has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation or arrested for any crime specified in § 290 of the Penal Code, for violating §§ 245, 273.5, or 273a of the Penal Code, or for any crime for which the department cannot grant an exemption if the person was convicted and has not been exonerated. These offenses include the following:

  • Offenses for which a person must register with the sex offender registry, including kidnapping, rape, sodomy, sexual battery, child pornography, and child sexual exploitation
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Infliction of injury on a present or former spouse or cohabitant or parent of a child
  • Endangering a child or causing or permitting a child to suffer physical pain, mental suffering, or injury

For a foster care provider, resource family, or adoptive parent applicant, an exemption shall not be granted if that applicant or any individual subject to a background check has a conviction for any of the following offenses:

  • Assault, sexual assault, or sexual assault of a minor
  • Sexual battery
  • Aiding or abetting rape
  • Endangering a child
  • Assault of a child under age 8 resulting in death or severe bodily injury
  • Infliction of corporal punishment or injury on child resulting in traumatic condition
  • Lewd or lascivious acts involving children
  • Any sexual offense requiring registration
  • Sexual exploitation of patient or client by a physician, surgeon, or psychotherapist
  • Torture, arson, or carjacking
  • Poisoning food, drink, medicine, pharmaceutical product, or water

Under no circumstances shall an exemption be granted to any foster care provider applicant if that applicant or any other person in the home has a felony conviction for either of the following offenses:

  • A felony conviction for child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; crimes against a child, including child pornography; or for a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide but not including other physical assault and battery
  • A felony conviction within the last 5 years for physical assault, battery, or a drug- or alcohol-related offense

Prior to granting a license to any individual to care for children, the department shall check the Child Abuse Central Index. Licensure or approval shall not be denied based upon a report from the Child Abuse Central Index unless child abuse or severe neglect is substantiated.