California audit finds state-licensed foster homes failed to check workers and residents against sex offender registries

A California auditor has issued a report that found state-licensed foster homes and other child welfare facilities have been harboring sex offenders because regulators failed to check the state registry for such offenders, despite being advised to do so in 2008.

More than 1,000 addresses for foster homes run by the California Department of Social Services and three county agencies matched addresses found in the state’s sex offender registries, according to the audit. (The information was compiled after an audit of facilities in Alameda, Fresno and Sacramento counties.) About 600 of the addresses were listed as “high risk,” meaning that the sex offender at the address, if correct, “poses an immediate threat to a vulnerable person. Action on these address matches is of highest priority.”

When asked by a reporter about the circumstances that would allow such proximity between a sex offender and a child, the auditor said sex offenders typically are family members or someone else living at the foster home, and since the department of social services does a single background check on the individual applying for a license to run a facility, sex offenders often go unnoticed.

The sobering report is another example of how important it is to do a thorough background check on every adult living and working not just in a foster home but any facility, school or organization where children are cared for.

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