Schwarzenegger calls for tougher laws for in-home caregivers, unions give mixed response

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is calling on the state Legislature to address the “public safety crisis” after revelations surfaced that convicted felons can work in the state's home care program.

Investigators flagged at least 210 in-home healthcare workers and applicants to the In Home Supportive Services program as having felony convictions. Many more felons go unreported to officials, the LA Times reported on Friday. A federal judge last year ruled that the rules of the IHSS program allow felons to work in the program. Following the publication of the LA Times article, Schwarzenegger issued a letter to the state Legislature calling for changes in the law to prevent felons from having access to elderly and disabled individuals.

The move has drawn conflicting responses from two of the largest union representatives of IHSS workers in the states. The United Domestic Workers Homecare Providers Union, which represents some 65,000 IHSS workers, said the 210 workers reported on represent a fraction of the 380,000 IHSS workers in the state, the LA Times reported. But the Service Employees International Union said that exposing vulnerable individuals to potentially dangerous individuals is “unacceptable,” and offered its support to the state Legislature on the issue.