Background Check Process

The California Health and Safety Code requires a background check of all community care license applicants, community care licensees, adult residents, volunteers under certain conditions and employees of community care facilities who have contact with clients. If an individual has been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation, the individual cannot work or be present in any community care facility unless he/she receives a criminal record exemption from the Care Provider Management Bureau (CPMB). A criminal record exemption is a CDSS-authorized written document that "exempts" the individual from the requirement of having a criminal record clearance.

How the Background Check is Conducted. When an individual submits fingerprints, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) conducts a criminal history check. If the individual has no criminal history, DOJ forwards a clearance notice to the applicant or licensee and to the CPMB. If the individual has a criminal history, DOJ sends a criminal record transcript to CPMB showing arrests and convictions. The CPMB staff review the transcript and if the convictions are for crimes that may be exempted, the CPMB sends an exemption notification letter to the applicant or licensee and to the individual. The letter explains how to request an exemption and lists the documents/information that must be submitted to request an exemption. The individual can not be present (work, reside or volunteer) in the facility until an exemption is granted by the CPMB.

Child Abuse Central Index. The Child Abuse Central Index name check is an additional check required for individuals who will be associated to any facility that cares for children. The Department of Justice provides the CPMB with notification of any subsequent child abuse reports after the initial check.

Criminal Record Clearance. When an individual receives a criminal record clearance, he/she is able to work, reside or volunteer in a licensed facility. The clearance remains active as long as the individual is associated to a licensed facility. If an individual is disassociated from a facility (no longer works there), he/she must be associated to another facility (or the same facility if rehired) within 3 years or he/she will become inactive. If an individual becomes inactive, he/she must be fingerprinted and cleared again before working, residing or volunteering in a licensed facility.

A newly fingerprinted individual's clearance will be listed on the California Background Clearance Listing for 30 days. A licensee may verify clearances older than 30 days by calling his/her local Community Care Licensing Division Regional Office.

Criminal Record Exemptions. When an applicant or licensee receives an exemption notification letter from the CPMB concerning an employee, volunteer or adult resident, he/she must decide whether to request the exemption for that individual. If an exemption is desired so that the individual can work or volunteer there, the licensee must assist the individual by mailing all exemption documents to the CPMB. If the licensee does not wish to pursue the exemption and subsequently terminates the employee or removes the non-client adult resident, the individual may request an exemption on his/her own behalf. A person seeking an exemption may not be present in any community care facility until an exemption is approved by the CPMB.

All convictions other than minor traffic violations require an exemption. This includes misdemeanors, felonies and convictions that occurred a long time ago. However, the CDSS is prohibited by law from granting exemptions to individuals convicted of serious crimes such as robbery, sexual battery, child abuse, elder or dependent adult abuse, arson or kidnapping. The crimes for which an exemption may not be obtained are outlined in the list of Non-Exemptible Crimes. The CDSS also has the authority and responsibility to investigate arrests to determine if the underlying conduct is substantiated and therefore presents a risk to the health and safety of clients who are in care.

To begin the process of obtaining a criminal record exemption, individuals must submit specific paperwork to the CPMB. All documents must be received by the CPMB within 45 days from the date of the exemption notification letter. Once this paperwork is received, CPMB reviews the paperwork and begins the exemption process. The process is extensive and can require significant time. The applicant or licensee seeking the exemption will be notified in writing of the CPMB's decision. With individual exemption requests, the individual seeking the exemption will be notified.

If an exemption is denied, the individual may request an appeal in writing. The appeal must be received by the CDSS within 15 days from the date of the denial notification letter.

The following additional information and materials are available to help you.

Do I Need a Background Check?
Background Check Laws and Regulations
California Background Clearance Listing
Possible Delays in Receipt of Fingerprint Information
Fingerprinting and LiveScan Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Non-Exemptible Crimes
Transferring an exemption
Transferring a clearance