Organizations that provide services to children do so with the intent to protect, educate, encourage, and provide opportunities for a brighter future. Groups like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts typically come to mind as ways for young people to learn values such as kindness, trustworthiness, bravery, honesty, and hopes of making the world a better place. Unfortunately, bad actors can infiltrate these organizations with ill intent and destroy these vulnerable young lives. One unifying issue in a political climate filled with disunity, division, and disagreement is protecting children. While most organizations that provide youth services already have policies and procedures to weed out people desiring to prey upon children, California created Assembly Bill 506 to set a minimum standard. In 2001, AB 506 became law in California, requiring a youth service organization’s administrators, employees, and volunteers to complete child abuse and neglect reporting training and undergo background checks. In addition, these organizations must develop and implement child abuse prevention policies and procedures to ensure the reporting of suspected incidents of child abuse to persons or entities outside of the organization.
Compliance is more manageable for larger organizations with Human Resource professionals and legal counsel sifting through the nuance and legalese of bills such as AB 506. But what about the smaller organizations like many of the churches in California? AB 506 makes it clear that insurers can request proof of compliance before writing a liability policy, which is a big deal for small organizations like churches. The result of the new law requires screening, training, policies and procedures, and proof of compliance, raising the standards but leaving many wondering how.
How to Comply
The information below is ideal for small organizations looking to understand this critical legislation in easy-to-understand terms. Remember, this is not just about compliance; it’s about doing the right thing by doing everything possible to protect children.
The screening process aims to identify individuals that have committed crimes through background checks. AB 506 requires the organization’s administrators, employees, and all volunteers working with children to complete a Live Scan background check. Live Scan is the way to electronically compare the applicants’ fingerprints to the Department of Justice (DOJ) database for a criminal record check. The organization must exclude any applicant with a history of child abuse from engaging in contact with children.
There are two essential elements required for an organization to be a part of the Live Scan process:
- Applicant Agency: Every organization must apply with the State of California to become an Applicant Agency. Once approved, the “Agency” receives an Originating Request Identifier or ORI, allowing the organization to interact with the state’s database. Each organization must request its ORI to access the state’s database. Even if person X gets Live Scan at one organization, they must also get one for your organization.
- Custodian of Records: Each organization needs at least one person designated as the Custodian of Records. The state grants the custodian access to confidential criminal data to the custodian.
California defines a “mandated reporter” as an individual mandated by law to report known or suspected child maltreatment. Everyone has a moral obligation to protect children – but mandated reporters have a legal one. All employees, administrators, and volunteers in contact with or supervising children must undergo training on the state’s mandated reporter curriculum. AB 506 focuses on preventing sexual abuse but includes the broader categories of abuse and neglect.
Each organization must train all volunteers working with children, all employees, and the administrators to recognize signs of child abuse and neglect. California provides training, but there are other options available. Some organizations prefer packaged plans from third-party vendors that offer training and tracking to ease administration and ensure everyone is compliant.
Policies and Procedures
AB 506 requires all organizations serving children to raise the standard when setting specific policies by developing and implementing child abuse prevention policies and procedures. Organizations that need assistance creating policies and procedures to comply can usually work with their insurance provider for sample policies.
Leo Tolstoy said, “Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult.” While compliance with AB 506 is essential and sometimes confusing, the goal of protecting children is worth the effort.short url: