SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — A legislative report released Thursday suggests that California is putting its elderly population at risk of theft and abuse because the state does not regulate in-home caregivers.

The report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes found that California is one of a handful of states that does not regulate in-home care agencies. It found that more than a quarter of caregivers accused or convicted of crimes had committed prior offenses and warned that many agencies do a shoddy job of conducting background checks on potential caregivers.

Few people even know they have a right to request a background check on a potential caregiver.

In one case, a woman convicted of stealing $43,000 from a church and $18,675 from her bed-ridden mother got a job as a caregiver through a classified ad in the newspaper. She moved into an elderly woman’s home, started charging the client rent, bought cars on her client’s bank accounts and put the woman’s house up for sale before she was finally caught.

One of the victim’s relatives said government should take steps to protect its seniors.

“Maybe there need to be some regulations that say you don’t get to just walk in off the street and live in someone’s home,” Kellie Ikenberry said in a statement. Her parents unknowingly hired a caregiver with a criminal background who she said stole from them.

The report urges the state to let clients check on past convictions and create a registry that would allow clients to find caregivers who have been screened. It also recommended a public awareness campaign to let the elderly know they are entitled to a state Department of Justice background check when they are thinking of hiring a caregiver.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

  1. Zack Debarco says:

    It’s about time!!! Although I know of quite a few great caregivers, I unfortunately know of way too many bad caregivers. In 40 years of social work I’ve come across a lot of scamming, thieving and abusine caregivers.
    On top of that, a lot of the caregivers are also either alcoolics and/or druggies.
    Now that the state pays for caregivers instead of providing more services, there are a lot of caregivers who are not around! I will admit the pay is not great and the work can be less than pleasurable. Do your own background checks and don’t let your emergency become a disaster.

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