OAKLAND (CN) - California's Department of Social Services will no longer pay felons to care for disabled relatives, no matter how long ago they committed their crimes, seven caregivers say in a state court complaint. The new policy bars felons from the In-Home Support Services program, though the plaintiffs are caring for their own relatives, and some of their convictions are decades old.
Gail Ellis was convicted of a felony in 1993, and has been caring for her son, "whose judgment is severely impaired" for 16 years.
The state's new policy would exclude her from the In-Home Support Services program, which pays participants to care for the aged, severely disabled and homebound.
According to a 2009 legislative study cited in the complaint, 44 percent of the 430,000 IHSS recipients are cared for by a relative.
Alberta Bachman is an IHSS provider for her 90 year-old mother, and says she was denied a state license to take on additional clients because of a 1976 felony conviction for grand theft.
Mark Beckwith has received IHSS care for more than 30 years and says he does not want to lose Ryan Hall as his care provider simply because Hall was convicted of third degree assault in 2004.
The policy has not been authorized by the Legislature, and "unlawfully deprives providers of their right to follow their profession and care for a loved one," according to the complaint.
The caregivers want the policy rescinded for unconstitutionally denying them equal protection. They are represented by Peter Sheehan with The Social Justice Law Project.