2011 California Code
Welfare and Institutions Code
DIVISION 2. CHILDREN [100 - 1500]
ARTICLE 10. Dependent Children Judgments and Orders
Section 361.4


CA Welf & Inst Code § 361.4 (through 2012 Leg Sess) What's This?

(a) Prior to placing a child in the home of a relative, or the home of any prospective guardian or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent, the county social worker shall visit the home to ascertain the appropriateness of the placement.

(b) Whenever a child may be placed in the home of a relative, or the home of any prospective guardian or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent, the court or county social worker placing the child shall cause a state-level criminal records check to be conducted by an appropriate government agency through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) pursuant to Section 16504.5. The criminal records check shall be conducted with regard to all persons over 18 years of age living in the home, and on any other person over 18 years of age, other than professionals providing professional services to the child, known to the placing entity who may have significant contact with the child, including any person who has a familial or intimate relationship with any person living in the home. A criminal records check may be conducted pursuant to this section on any person over 14 years of age living in the home who the county social worker believes may have a criminal record. Within 10 calendar days following the criminal records check conducted through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, the social worker shall ensure that a fingerprint clearance check of the relative and any other person whose criminal record was obtained pursuant to this subdivision is initiated through the Department of Justice to ensure the accuracy of the criminal records check conducted through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System and shall review the results of any criminal records check to assess the safety of the home. The Department of Justice shall forward fingerprint requests for federal-level criminal history information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation pursuant to this section.

(c) Whenever a child may be placed in the home of a relative, or a prospective guardian or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent, the county social worker shall cause a check of the Child Abuse Central Index pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 11170 of the Penal Code to be requested from the Department of Justice. The Child Abuse Central Index check shall be conducted on all persons over 18 years of age living in the home. For any application received on or after January 1, 2008, if any person in the household is 18 years of age or older and has lived in another state in the preceding five years, the county social worker shall check the other state s child abuse and neglect registry to the extent required by federal law.

(d) (1) If the results of the California and federal criminal records check indicates that the person has no criminal record, the county social worker and court may consider the home of the relative, prospective guardian, or other person who is not a licensed or certified foster parent for placement of a child.

(2) If the criminal records check indicates that the person has been convicted of a crime that the Director of Social Services cannot grant an exemption for under Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code, the child shall not be placed in the home. If the criminal records check indicates that the person has been convicted of a crime that the Director of Social Services may grant an exemption for under Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code, the child shall not be placed in the home unless a criminal records exemption has been granted by the county, based on substantial and convincing evidence to support a reasonable belief that the person with the criminal conviction is of such good character as to justify the placement and not present a risk of harm to the child pursuant to paragraph (3).

(3) (A) A county may issue a criminal records exemption only if that county has been granted permission by the Director of Social Services to issue criminal records exemptions. The county may file a request with the Director of Social Services seeking permission for the county to establish a procedure to evaluate and grant appropriate individual criminal records exemptions for persons described in subdivision (b). The director shall grant or deny the county s request within 14 days of receipt. The county shall evaluate individual criminal records in accordance with the standards and limitations set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (g) of Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code, and in no event shall the county place a child in the home of a person who is ineligible for an exemption under that provision.

(B) The department shall monitor county implementation of the authority to grant an exemption under this paragraph to ensure that the county evaluates individual criminal records and allows or disallows placements according to the standards set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (g) of Section 1522 of the Health and Safety Code.

(4) The department shall conduct an evaluation of the implementation of paragraph (3) through random sampling of county exemption decisions.

(5) The State Department of Social Services shall not evaluate or grant criminal records exemption requests for persons described in subdivision (b), unless the exemption request is made by an Indian tribe pursuant to subdivision (f).

(6) If a county has not requested, or has not been granted, permission by the State Department of Social Services to establish a procedure to evaluate and grant criminal records exemptions, the county shall not place a child into the home of a person described in subdivision (b) if any person residing in the home has been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation, except as provided in subdivision (f).

(e) Nothing in this section shall preclude a county from conducting a criminal background check that the county is otherwise authorized to conduct using fingerprints.

(f) Upon request from an Indian tribe, the State Department of Social Services shall evaluate an exemption request, if needed, to allow placement into an Indian home that the tribe has designated for placement under the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.) that would otherwise be barred under this section. However, if the county with jurisdiction over the child that is the subject of the tribe s request has established an approved procedure pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (d), the tribe may request that the county evaluate the exemption request. Once a tribe has elected to have the exemption request reviewed by either the State Department of Social Services or the county, the exemption decision may only be made by that entity. Nothing in this subdivision limits the duty of a county social worker to evaluate the home for placement or to gather information needed to evaluate an exemption request.

(Amended by Stats. 2009, Ch. 246, Sec. 2. Effective October 11, 2009.)


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