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Living with Autism

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December 21, 2016

California Law Allows Dangerous Caregivers to Hide Criminal Past

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According to U.S. Department of Justice Statistics, the rate of violent victimization of persons with developmental disabilities (36 per 1,000) was more than twice the rate of persons without disabilities (14 per 1000).

https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/capd0913st_sum.pdf

"Abuse of people with disabilities is a hidden epidemic with a huge number of invisible victims...some 57% of victims said they had been victims of abuse on more than 20 occasions, with 46% saying it had happened too many times for them to even count.."

"Perpetrators [of people with disabilities] are often predators who misuse a position of trust or take advantage of a victim with actual or perceived vulnerabilities."

"Some disability types have a higher incidence of abuse than others. For example, 67.1% of those with a speech disability, 66.5% of those with autism, 62.5% of those with an intellectual or developmental disability, and 55.2% of those with a mobility disability reported having experienced such abuse. "

Violence against persons with disabilities is a often unrecognized and under reported problem that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.”

Source of above statistics: (http://disability-abuse.com/survey/survey-report.pdf)

So here we are in California. Imagine you need a respite caregiver to help with your adult child with special needs.  Or you need home health for your elderly parent with Dementia. Or maybe your autistic teen needs a residential placement. You'd expect someone working with your family member is a trained and trusted caregiver, right?

Not always. While many workers are caring, some can kill, injure and mentally and physically torment vulnerable adults who can't defend themselves. And some have. And when they do harm and are actually convicted, you'd think the state of California wouldn't make it easy for these dangerous caregivers to rejoin the caregiving workforce, right?

Wrong. In California, convicted abusive caregivers and people who abuse the elderly and disabled, can go right back into caregiving jobs. And they do, by getting the crime of Ca Penal Code 368, expunged, under Ca penal Code 1203.4. That means employers can't see their past crimes.  Ca Penal Code 368 (the crime people are convicted of when they beat up elderly and disabled people) is not on list of crimes that can't be expunged under Ca Penal Code 1203.4

This is intolerable, given the vulnerability of disabled and elderly citizens.

Do we want people convicted of harming disabled and elderly people to hide their past crimes? Heck no. Duh. I mean, really? Duh. 

It's not like someone who has a criminal past record involving smoking cannabis, one DUI, one prior drug problem/conviction, or stole a car back in college, and at some point, they turned their lives around and get crimes expunged so they can join the workforce. Good for them. I'm all for redemption.

People who beat up elderly and disabled are lost causes. You speed or drive on suspended license and you get your license revoked, right? Where's the logic in letting someone who was convicted of abusing vulnerable people get their crime expunged?

Someone who beats up disabled and elderly is a predator.

People who abuse elderly and disabled people have a different psychological profile than most other criminals.

They're cowards. Sadistic. Bullies. People convicted under Ca Penal Code 368 prey on people who can't fight back. They prey on people who are medically fragile. Physically disabled. Suffering from Dementia. Parkinson's. Down Syndrome. Autism. These types of criminals are a greater threat to public safety in the same way criminals who prey on children are. We must know their past crimes to protect those who can't speak for themselves. 

So why would California law make it easy for predators like this to keep on preying on vulnerable people......? This has got to be the most absurd legislative oversight I've ever seen.

Yes, thanks to a little known law in California, criminals convicted of punching, eye poking, kicking or otherwise abusing disabled and elderly people, under CA Penal Code 368, can hide these past crimes when they get record "expunged" under Ca Penal Code 1203.4.

That's because Ca Penal Code 1203.4 doesn't include Ca Penal Code 368 as a crime serious enough to be INELIGIBLE to be considered to be expunged. Yes, you read that correctly.

Apparently, in California, the perception remains that it's not that serious of crime to punch, kick, eye poke, body slam, neglect, or otherwise abuse a senior or adult with special needs, to wit, that you can have this specific crime "expunged" under Ca Penal Code 1203.4.

A reasonable person would think a conviction that involves slapping, punching, kicking or jamming your thumb into a disabled and elderly person's eye, would prevent a criminal from getting their criminal record expunged so they couldn't work with the same population they abused, right? Right.

As it stands today, Ca Penal Code 368 stands in disbelief, as it's not among crimes ineligible to be hidden. Shocking, considering California is the leader in providing services to elderly and adults with special needs. California is also the leader in abuse of elderly and disabled. Surely, the current situation involving getting the crime of abusing elderly and disabled expunged, isn't helping.

Under current law, CA. Penal Code 1203.4, a convicted felon can have past crimes committed under CA Penal Code 368 (crimes against elderly and disabled ages 18 and up) "expunged" (hidden from background checks).

An obvious tragic oversight, lawmakers didn't think to add CA. Penal Code 368 among the list of crimes that are ineligible to be expunged under CA Penal Code 1203.4, despite crimes against disabled and elderly committed by dangerous people who often target the weaker and frail among us. 

Once expunged, background checks will hide their past abusive crimes against elderly and disabled.

Most caregivers convicted under CA Penal Code 368 look for jobs in the area they know best: Caregiving industry.

There are thousands of jobs in California where convicted abusive caregivers who got their record expunged, can apply.

For example:



  • Foster Family Homes (FFH) provide 24-hour care and supervision in a family setting in the licensee's family residence for no more than six children.
  • In Home Support Services (IHSS) Don't be fooled into thinking that just because two bills, AB 1612 and SB 856,  tightening the background check requirements restricting individuals with certain violent felony convictions from working as caregivers in California’s In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program, you're safe either. Under CA PENAL CODE 1203.4, anyone convicted of violent crimes, including assaults against an elderly or disabled adult--- can get this criminal conviction expunged and hidden from background check, thereby defeating the purpose of AB 1612 and SB 856. In short, IHSS will hire criminals who have been convicted of abusing disabled and elderly, to work the disabled and elderly, if they got their record expunged under Ca Penal Code 1203.4 
  • http://www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/res/pdf/Tier-2_Crimes(Final2-6-12).pdf
  • Group Homes (GH) provide 24-hour non-medical care and supervision to children in a structured environment.
  • Small Family Homes (SFH) provide 24-hour care in the licensee's family residence for six or fewer children who are mentally disordered, developmentally disabled or physically handicapped and who require special care and supervision as a result of such disabilities.
  • Adult Residential Facilities (ARF) provide care for adults age 18-59, who are unable to provide for their own daily needs.
  • Adult Day Programs (ADP) provide care to persons 18 years of age or older in need of personal services, supervision, or assistance essential for sustaining the activities of daily living or for the protection of these individuals on less than a 24-hour basis.
  • Social Rehabilitation Facilities provide care in a group setting to adults recovering from mental illnesses who temporarily need assistance, guidance, or counseling.
  • Residential Care Facilities for the Chronically Ill (RCF-CI) provide care and supervision to adults who have Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
  • Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) provide non-medical care to persons 60 years of age and over but also persons under 60 with compatible needs
Previously convicted abusers can also apply to home health agencies providing care to elderly, sick and disabled clients.

These criminal caregivers with an expunged record can also go on Craig's List and find jobs. Look at this example of a job posted in 12/16.

"Direct Care Staff/ Caregiver (Oceanside, CA) 

Looking for Self Motivated, Enthusiastic, and Reliable Individuals to work with the Intellectually Disabled Population with Exceptional Care in ICF DDH homes in Oceanside, CA: Assist with Grooming, Dressing, Nutrition, Therapeutic Objectives, Active Treatment, Housekeeping Duties, Documentation, Community Outings."

Notice employer says they do background checks. Good. Makes you feel safe, right? Nope. You shouldn't.  If the convicted criminal has their record expunged, neither the Dept. of Social Services Registry System, or prospective employers will know if caregiver is a high risk employee who shouldn't be working with patients/clients. Nor will you. 


Look at another current California Craig's List December 2016, job opening: 

"Immediate need for caregivers in East County San Diego.
Must have at least one year experience working with the elderly
Must be able to pass a background check (The criminal abuser sure will thanks to having record expunged under CA Penal Code 1203.4)
Must be registered on the Department of Social Services Home Care Aid Registry or have the ability to register (Again, prior crimes won't show up if criminal conviction under CA Penal Code 368 is hidden as per CA Penal Code 1203.4)


Does it make sense for our California Criminal Code to allow criminals convicted of ABUSING DISABLED under CA Penal Code 368, to hide prior crimes from California agencies trying provide services and supports to developmentally disabled? 

No, it doesn't make sense. This should be a bipartisan agreement. 

Apparently, nobody who wrote or amended CA Penal Code 1203.4 considered the massive system serving disabled and elderly people. And how many caregivers are spread around this system. 

A state sanctioned hidden criminal past of abusing disabled and elderly is a huge liability for California state agencies serving disabled, special education centers, owners of home health agencies, day programs for disabled and elderly, respite care agencies, group homes and additional key state stakeholders. 

This is an intolerable oversight that we must correct. 

California state lawmakers can fix this situation with legislative remedy by adding CA Penal Code 368 (Crimes against Vulnerable Adults ages 18 and up) to crimes ineligible to be "expunged" under CA Penal Code 1203.4. 

Sources:

http://www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/res/pdf/Tier-2_Crimes(Final2-6-12).pdf  "you MAY be eligible to be enrolled as an IHSS provider if one of the following conditions apply/occur...You have...your conviction... expunged from your record pursuant to Ca Penal Cod Section 1203.4"

https://www.change.org/p/california-state-senate-don-t-allow-convicted-felons-who-abuse-our-most-vulnerable-citizens-to-hide-criminal-past

https://ncea.acl.gov/whatwedo/research/statistics.html#disabilities

http://sooo.senate.ca.gov/sites/sooo.senate.ca.gov/files/dangerouscaregiversreport1.pdf

U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics show "There was no statistically significant difference in the violent victimization rates of whites (29.7 per 1,000), blacks (28.8 per 1,000), Hispanics (28.6 per 1,000), and persons of other races (28.0 per 1,000) with disabilities."  

That means crime victims with disabilities are their own minority, independent of race. This means they're targeted because they're vulnerable. This should be of great concern to lawmakers. 

https://www.trustworthycare.com/home-care-in-san-diego-county-more-california-background-check-issues/

http://disability-abuse.com/contact.htm

Kim Oakley




December 14, 2016

Nursing Shortage for San Diego Regional Center Consumers Goes Unreported To State and Feds

*UPDATE:
In June, 2017, another mother of a severely disabled child filed an administrative law hearing against San Diego Regional Center. In the final decision we find the Judge writes, "Finding nurses to staff [the child's] care has been difficult. Despite the nursing level care hours Medi-Cal and SDRC authorized, claimant has been recently receiving only approximately 24 hours of nursing care per week. Claimant’s parents provide her care when nursing staff is not available." 

"According to Ms. Flores, claimant’s mother has experienced difficulty finding nurses to staff claimant’s Medi-Cal and SDRC funded nursing and respite care due to a nursing shortage. In addition to the nursing shortage..." 

Source: 
https://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/oah/dds_decisions/2017030241.084.pdf

Yep, just like I've been saying for years, Carlos Flores, the Executive Director of San Diego LIES to Department of Developmental Services (DDS) when he files official reports to DDS saying there's SUFFICIENT nursing services for SDRC clients. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so and if you haven't figured out by now that this guy is full of shit and should be removed as the Executive Director, I don't know how you can claim to care about people with disabilities. I'm an eyewitness to how some of these people operate over there at SDRC. I've fought against them many times. They are ruthless. They LIE to Judges. Pretend they are helping, but ignore parent's cries for help and only gather information a few weeks before a Fair Hearing to deceive Judges that they are doing something. They lie to DDS. They play dirty. They attack parents. They IGNORE serious issues that need to be addressed. It's shocking to see people behave this way who advertise to the public, while getting federal and state funds, that they advocate and protect disabled. Read the OAH case I provided in link above. And scroll down here to see what Flores tells DDS again. And you tell me, is this the kind of Executive Director you want running an agency that is supposed to be providing services to people with developmental disabilities? 
Fast facts: 


California has 21 Regional Centers that provide services to persons with developmental disabilities. 


San Diego County is served by San Diego Regional Center (aka, SDRC).


Many medically fragile disabled "consumers" require nursing respite or skilled nursing services to remain safely at home. 

However, there aren't enough licensed vocational nurses available through home health agencies or as independent vendors, to provide these needed nursing services. 

San Diego Regional Center has known about this nursing shortage for many years and has done very little to resolve it. Consequently, families who have nursing services for their medically fragile children aren't getting the help they need. And it's going unreported. In fact, SDRC tells the state that everything's going swell....

The problem with this BS is that you can't fix a problem if you pretend it doesn't exist  California Regional Centers report to Department of Developmental Services (DDS), in Sacramento. In essence, DDS is their boss.

Department of Developmental Services answers to the Federal Government, specifically Center of Medicaid Services.

Thus, if there's a problem with lack of sufficient nursing, the San Diego Regional Center unit (which is in my area) has a responsibility to NOTIFY DDS.

Unfortunately, SDRC's chronic nursing shortage affecting disabled persons has not been properly or truthfully revealed to Center of Medicaid Services.

State has a responsibility to ensure that there is sufficient and appropriate information being submitted to CMS.

How can State, specifically, DDS, ensure information is submitted to CMS, if a Regional Center isn't telling DDS the truth about a chronic nursing respite shortage for consumers?

For example, many mom's who receive nursing respite services from SDRC for their children report that they aren't  getting sufficient nursing or respite care services.

This should be of great concern to the State and the federal government since San Diego Regional Center's Executive Director submitted a report to DDS that states there is 'sufficient nursing services' available.

SEE: 2015 report from Executive Director, Carlos Flores---sent to California Department of Developmental Services. Flores states,

"As of January 5, 2015...San Diego Regional Center (SDRC) funds licensed nursing respite care for 421 clients. SDRC has substantially increased the number of individually vendored Registered and Licensed Vocational Nurses. The current total of 218 vendored nurses and 18 Home Health Agencies is sufficient to meet the needs of SDRC clients." This is pure BS. And Flores knows it. 

The 2016 DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY update simply updates a few numbers. Says there's now 20 home health agencies and  more vendored nurses. SEE: http://sdrc.org/resources-support/publications/

What it's not telling the public or DDS or CMS is that if you analyze the "vendored nurse" list, half the names aren't active, some of the LVNs on list are retired, others no longer work for SDRC, some have expired licenses (you'd have to cross check names on SDRC vendor list with CA. Board of Vocational Nursing to see this, by the way, since SDRC doesn't check or show it). As for the home health agencies, you'd have to ask the parents for the truth. Nobody at these vendored home health agencies likes to admit they aren't able to staff cases. These nurse agencies, (Maxim, etc...) want the luxury of staying on SDRC's vendor list, without actually sufficiently or consistently staffing nursing respite cases for Regional Center consumers. Worse, there's reports from parents that some nurse agencies bill for services provided when the nurse was a "no show" making it appear as if services were provided. MMM....


Source:
http://sdrc.org/wordpress/wp-content/media/2015/03/DemSurvey15color.pdf

* SDRC clients not getting proper nursing services has been going on for YEARS.
*To deceive the State, specifically DDS, into thinking everything's okay, is not fair to vulnerable clients who NEED SERVICES and families struggling to find nursing services for their children.

How can DDS offer "technical assistance" or help improve shortage of nurses for vulnerable San Diego Regional Center consumers, if SDRC is pretending there isn't a nursing shortage for SDRC clients? 

And how can Center of Medicaid Services help resolve the situation, if they aren't being told by DDS, that there's a nursing shortage for San Diego Regional Center clients? 

I'm not sure what other Executive Directors of other Regional Centers are telling DDS, but I know for sure, Carlos Flores, the Executive Director of SDRC, isn't telling DDS the TRUTH about nursing shortages for respite care. His letter to DDS is evidence he is deliberately hiding the failure of SDRC to recruit and retain nurses, either through Home Health Agencies or as independent contractors to provide services, from DDS. This is inconsistent with the spirit of Lanterman Act. 

Flores and others at SDRC have been  repeatedly told that their Home Health Agencies can't supply enough nurses to provide services. Yet, every year, Flores, as if he's got a boilerplate ready, still writes a Demographic survey to DDS, that says there is sufficient nursing services. 

Meanwhile, reality...................................

Parents who get nursing respite services from various vendored home health agencies at San Diego Regional Center report on social media:

1. "Nursing agency says there are no back-up nurses, but are trying to hire in our area." (2015)

2. "No respite nurse worker available with experience working with disabled clients....the nursing agency is sending nurses who have never worked with children  with special needs." (2016)

3. "It's been weeks...no nurses to cover my daughter's 32 hours of respite care nursing...I'm exhausted. I don't know what to do." (2016, parent of SDRC consumer).

4. "We don't have any nursing coverage until tomorrow's noc shift. We're sick and feeling quite run down. I'm really praying my nursing company comes through with a Friday evening and night nurse. New nurses schedule is not what I was hoping it would be. Not sure what to do next." (2017, post from mother of daughter with nursing respite care from SDRC).

5. "Our situation is we have the respite hours [san diego regional center] just cannot find a company who can provide nurses for the shifts we need. Every company called..says..they have a shortage of nurses." 2017 post. 

Interestingly, San Diego Regional Center has a Clinical Service Department which employs several registered nurses. Why haven't they notified DDS? 




Has SDRC Clinical Services done a community outreach to improve this chronic nursing shortage for SDRC clients?

Inform community colleges that have nursing schools that San Diego Regional Center can hire independently vendored Licensed Vocational Nurses to work with clients who have special needs?

Speak to nursing schools about teaching new nurses interested about special needs patients? Recruit nurses who have past experience working with disabled?

As for the home health agencies that seem to never have sufficient nursing staff to help San Diego Regional Center consumers, has anyone at SDRC Clinical Services ever met with their vendored home health/nursing agency representatives to see how they work together to improve this? Probably not.

Insufficient services provided by San Diego Regional Center home health agencies isn't limited to nursing. Parents who receive general respite care aren't getting sufficient services. 

When is DDS going to interview families, allegedly getting nursing and/or respite services, to confirm whether they are ACTUALLY getting nursing/respite services? Clearly, one can't rely on information sent from SDRC.....as it doesn't reflect reality.