The East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) is proud to announce that, after over four years of advocacy, Governor Newsom signed AB 1720. This bill will remove barriers from the criminal background check process for people applying to work at care facilities. As one EBCLC client stated, “This will help families and their children move forward with their jobs and lives.”
“AB 1720 is going to help thousands of people across California, particularly women of color,” said Clean Slate Practice Director, Jael Myrick. “For over four years, we have been working to ensure caregivers are able to support themselves while they are supporting others. Too many of our clients lost out on meaningful compensation due to having to prove their worthiness in the California Department of Social Services' long arduous process. AB 1720 honors the dignity of caregivers and their value in our larger community wellbeing.”
Occupational reform is one the most significant ways to advance justice for people with criminal records. Before AB 1720, people with records could be conditionally hired for caregiving jobs only to lose the position due to the months-long exemption process established by the Department of Social Services (DSS). Many employers would move on to the next eligible applicant. Moreover, the need for financial stability would force applicants to drop out of the process and take lower-paying jobs. Once AB 1720 is implemented, qualified caregivers will be able to go through a simplified exemption process which is much shorter and less burdensome.
EBCLC is deeply grateful to Assemblymember Chris Holden for his partnership in passing this legislation. After the first bill failed in 2018, Holden’s office retrieved critical data from DSS about the exemption process: The numbers showed that of 11,000 people who went through the process (in a six-month period), over 6,000 people ended up losing their employment because their employer could no longer wait or because the applicant had given up. Less than 800 people were ultimately denied because of something on their criminal record. In addition, EBCLC examined its own client data and learned that the majority of the clients that were harmed by the exemption process were African American women.
"AB 1720 removes barriers to employment opportunities for all Californians,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Streamlining the hiring protocol helps both care facilities and qualified applicants at the same time.”
AB 1720 will go into effect in January. Any person with questions or who needs advice on this bill can reach out to EBCLC for assistance.