California bill requires youth service organizations to develop and implement child abuse prevention policies, including mandated reporting training requirements for admins, employees, and full-time volunteers.
AB506: Child Abuse Prevention Policies for Youth Service Organizations
Assembly Bill 506 (AB 506) was sponsored by CA Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez and approved by Governor Gavin Newsom in Sept. 2021. AB 506 became law as Section 18975 within Chapter 2.9 Youth Service Organizations, which falls under Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code.
Under the existing CA Business and Professions Code, any business providing services to minors is required to provide written notice regarding the businesses' policies relating to obtaining background checks for its employees to the parent or guardian of the minors receiving those services.
AB506 adds further protections for minors by requiring youth service organizations to develop and implement child abuse prevention policies, including background checks and mandated reporter training.
- Requires administrators, employees, and regular volunteers to complete child abuse and neglect reporting training (aka mandated reporting training)
- Requires administrators, employees, and full-time volunteers required to undergo a background check
- Authorizes insurers to request information demonstrating compliance before writing liability insurance for youth service organizations
Who is Affected by AB506?
In the wake of the largest sexual abuse settlement in US history, AB 506 makes it clear that lawmakers in California are taking a stand to prevent a repeat of the sexual abuse crisis facing the Boy Scouts of America.
AB 506 is specifically written to prevent child abuse and sexual abuse in youth service organizations and businesses that provide services to minors.
Under AB506, a “business that provides services to minors” means a business that meets the following requirements:
- Primary purpose is providing extracurricular services or instructions to youth under 18 years of age*
- Has adult employees with supervisory or disciplinary power over a child/ children
*This can include academic tutors and instructors but does not include licensed daycare/ childcare providers, who have their own legislative requirements pertaining to the prevention and reporting of child abuse.
What is the Definition of a ‘Regular’ Volunteer?
Many youth service organizations operate with the assistance of volunteers. AB506 requirements apply to “regular volunteers” in addition to administrators and employees of youth services organizations.
Under AB506, a regular volunteer is defined as someone who volunteers:
- 16-hours or more per month, or
- 32-hours or more per year
Mandated Reporter Training Requirements
Under AB506, administrators, employees, and regular volunteers of youth service organizations are required to complete child abuse and neglect reporting training, also known as mandated reporter training.
Mandated reporter training helps volunteers understand their requirements and responsibilities as mandated reporters in California, including the legal definitions of child abuse and neglect, how to spot evidence of child abuse, and how to report suspected instances of child abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse.
AB 506 notes that organizations may utilize the mandated reporter training provided by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in the State Department of Social Services. A volunteer-specific training exists at mandatedreproterca.com.
Background Check Requirements
In order to identify and exclude any person with a history of child abuse from working or volunteering at a youth service organization, AB 506 includes a requirement for a background check pursuant to Section 11105.3 of the Penal Code for administrators, employees, or regular volunteers. The penal code states:
- the employer makes a request for all convictions or arrests pending adjudication from the California Department of Justice; and
- the request must include the applicant’s fingerprints and shall be made through the use of a form approved by the California Department of Justice.
‘Two Adult’ Rule
AB 506 also calls for policies that require, to the greatest extent possible, the presence of at least two mandated reporters whenever administrators, employees, or volunteers are in contact with, or supervising, children.
In order to be insured, AB 506 calls for insurance carriers to check for background checks and mandated reporter training requirements before issuing general liability insurance coverage to youth service organizations.
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said of AB 506:
“This legislation would increase transparency and guarantee youth organizations have additional proactive measures in place to prevent child abuse. Our insurance companies can play a critical role in preventing child abuse through better volunteer training and reporting. I look forward to partnering with Assemblywoman Gonzalez on this public safety bill that would have insurance companies use their leverage for the public good and hold youth organizations that they insure accountable for their actions.”
How to Be Compliant with AB 506 Requirements in California
Youth services organizations will need to place a priority on preventing child abuse and sexual abuse in order to be compliant with AB 506 requirements and obtain liability insurance coverage.
AB 506 makes formal, written abuse prevention policies a must. In addition, youth services organizations must ensure:
- All administrators, employees, and regular volunteers receive mandated reporter training
- All administrators, employees, and regular volunteers are fingerprinted and background checked
- The presence of two or more mandated reporters when supervising or in contact with youth under 18 years of age