Exemptions Explained

Before an individual can obtain a community care license, or provide services, work or reside in a community care facility, he/she must receive a criminal record clearance from the Care Provider Management Branch (CPMB). An individual convicted of any crime other than minor traffic violations is disqualified unless the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) grants an exemption from the clearance requirement. All convictions other than minor traffic violations require an exemption, and this includes misdemeanors, felonies and convictions that occurred a long time ago.

An exemption is a CDSS-authorized written document that "exempts" the individual from the requirement of having a criminal record clearance. The CDSS is prohibited by law from granting exemptions to individuals convicted of certain crimes (non-exemptible crimes). Currently, there are 60 non-exemptible crimes, including murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and crimes requiring sex offender registration, and the non-exemptible crimes are listed here. If an individual is convicted of a non-exemptible crime, that individual cannot work in any licensed facility or for a health care organization, and an individual’s application will be denied or the license revoked based on the conviction. 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.

What to do if you have received an exemption notification letter from CPMB. The CPMB sends an exemption notification letter when an applicant’s background check shows criminal history other than minor traffic offenses. The letter states that a criminal record exemption is needed and the letter lists the documents needed to process a criminal record exemption.

  • One option is for you to take no action. If you do not supply the documents to the CPMB within 45 days, CPMB will close the file. This means that the applicant cannot work, provide services, volunteer or reside in the facility.
  • If you are the licensee (the community care facility, child care provider or health care organization) and you have received the letter regarding the conviction(s) of a potential employee, volunteer or adult resident, you must decide whether to request an exemption for that individual. If an exemption is desired, you must assist the individual by mailing exemption documents to the CPMB. If you do not wish to pursue the exemption and you decide not to hire or subsequently terminate the employee, the individual may request an exemption on his/her own behalf.
  • If the licensee decided not to hire you and you are the applicant, you can seek an exemption on your own behalf that will allow you to seek employment or provide services elsewhere. However, you cannot be present (work, volunteer, reside or provide services) until an exemption is approved by the CPMB.

The steps you must take to request an exemption. To begin the exemption process, you must send the following materials to the CPMB (deadlines apply). Seeking an exemption is a lengthy process and the more complete your packet to the CPMB, the faster the process will go. Please mail all of the following:

  • You must request an exemption and it needs to be in writing. If you are the licensee/facility, you should request an exemption on behalf of the individual. If you are seeking an exemption for yourself, you need to write it out.
  • Include the individual's current mailing address and telephone number. If you are requesting an exemption for yourself, then write out your current mailing address and telephone number. This is very important so that the CPMB can follow up with you.
  • Provide three signed character reference statements. These are statements of three people who know the individual and who can speak to his/her good character and they each must be written on a Reference Statement form.
  • Go to this Reference Statement form and print out three copies: LIC 301E form.
  • Then, the individual should ask three people who know him/her but who are not relatives or family members to fill out a form. The individual cannot use references from employees associated with your licensed facility.
  • The character references must be dated, and they must include the telephone number and address of the person writing the reference.  
  • A certificate of any training, classes, courses, treatment or counseling sessions completed.  Examples include anger management classes, DUI classes, or nurses aide classes completed. This helps to demonstrate that the individual has worked to improve or rehabilitate himself/herself.
  • A written statement from the individual describing the events surrounding each conviction.
  • This should be detailed!
  • The statement should include the approximate date, what happened, why it happened, and any other information he/she feels is important about the crime.
  • The individual must sign the statement.
  • It is very helpful for the individual to also state how his/her life has changed to prevent him/her from committing another crime.
  • If it is available, documentation that the individual's current probation or last period of probation was informal. This might be a Minute Order, court-ordered Judgment of Conviction or a letter from the probation officer.

All of this information should be mailed to CPMB within the time frame specified. Look at the exemption notification letter for the correct mailing address. Please note that it may take approximately one week for your paperwork to reach CPMB.

There are some important deadlines to follow. State codes and regulations establish several deadlines.  For example, the requested exemption documents must be received by the CPMB no later than 45 days from the date of CPMB’s exemption notification letter.  Also, if an exemption is denied, the individual may request an appeal in writing. The appeal must be received by the CDSS no later than 15 days from the date of the denial letter.

The next steps. The applicant or licensee seeking the exemption will be notified in writing of CPMB's decision. With individual exemption requests, the individual seeking the exemption will be notified. Once granted, an exemption can be transferred from one licensed community care facility to another, if certain conditions are met.

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

Background Check Laws and Regulations

Fact Sheet

Fingerprinting and LiveScan Information


Non-Exemptible Crimes


Transferring an Exemption