By Alex Mellor, Senior Risk Manager
On January 1, 2022, California Assembly Bill 506 (Gonzalez) went into effect. This new law requires “Youth Service Organizations” (including local government agencies) to take the following steps to prevent child abuse:
- Provide training in child abuse and neglect, identification, and reporting to all agency administrators, employees, and regular volunteers.
- Perform background checks pursuant to Section 11105.3 of the CA Penal Code on all agency administrators, employees, and regular volunteers, and exclude any persons with a history of child abuse.
- Develop and implement child abuse prevention policies and procedures, including, but not limited to:
- Policies to ensure the reporting of suspected incidents of child abuse to persons or entities outside of the organization, including the reporting required pursuant to Section 11165.9 of the CA Penal Code.
- Policies requiring, to the extent possible, the presence of at least two mandated reporters whenever administrators, employees, or volunteers are in contact with or supervising children.
Those who do not already meet these requirements are strongly encouraged to take steps toward compliance. The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) has resources to assist its members, including a Mandated Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Policy template and Mandated Reporter Training in both classroom and virtual settings. Web-based training is also available through the Office of Child Abuse Prevention, California Department of Social Services.
Grooming is a process by which offenders gradually draw victims into a predatory relationship while maintaining that relationship in secrecy. The California JPIA strongly encourages agencies to conduct training for employees and volunteers so they may recognize the grooming process and common grooming behaviors. While background checks are recognized as an effective method to screen out convicted abusers, many others have not been detected by the criminal justice system. Therefore, additional screening procedures are needed to exclude potential abusers from employment or volunteer opportunities.
Finally, agencies should also have a robust recordkeeping system designed to retain important records related to the agency’s child abuse prevention efforts.
Providing innovative risk management solutions for its public agency partners for more than 40 years, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) is one of the largest municipal self-insurance pools in the state, with more than 120 member cities and other governmental agencies. Members actively participate in shaping the organization to provide important coverage for their operations. The California JPIA provides innovative risk management solutions through a comprehensive portfolio of programs and services, including liability, workers’ compensation, pollution, property, and earthquake coverage, as well as extensive training and loss control services. For more information, please visit the California JPIA’s website at cjpia.org.