Obtain a California Exemption

If you want to work in a community care license facility in California and have a criminal conviction, you will likely need to obtain a California exemption.

What is a California Department of Social Services Exemption? 

If you have a criminal record and want to work in a community care license facility in California, you will likely need to obtain a California exemption from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).

A California exemption is a CDSS authorized written document that “exempts” any individual who wants to work at a community care license facility, and who has a criminal offense for anything other than a minor traffic violation, from the requirement of having a criminal record clearance through the Caregiver Background Check Bureau (CBCB).

Begin My California Exemption

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What is a Community Care Licensed Facility?

The state of California’s Department of Social Services defines a Community Care Facility (CCF) as a facility licensed by the Community Care Licensing Division of the State Department of Social Services to provide 24-hour non-medical residential care to children and adults with developmental disabilities who are in need of personal services, supervision, and/or assistance essential for self-protection or sustaining the activities of daily living.

When an individual applies to work in a community care facility they are required to receive a criminal record clearance from the Caregiver Background Check Bureau (CBCB). However, if an individual is convicted of any crime other than minor traffic violations they will be disqualified unless the CDSS grants an exemption from the clearance requirement. All convictions other than minor traffic violations require an exemption, and this includes misdemeanors, felonies, and convictions that occurred a long time ago.

What Do I Do if I Received a California Exemption Letter?

The CBCB sends an exemption notification letter when an applicant’s background check shows criminal history other than minor traffic offenses. The letter states that a criminal record exemption is needed and the letter lists the documents needed to process a criminal record exemption.

Please note: you are required to obtain an exemption even if your record has been expunged (or dismissed under  California Penal Code 1203.4). In these instances, the expunged or dismissed conviction is still considered a conviction for exemptions purposes.

Furthermore, The CDSS is prohibited by law from granting exemptions to individuals convicted of certain crimes (non-exemptible crimes). If an individual is convicted of a non-exemptible crime, that individual cannot work in any licensed facility or for a healthcare organization, and an individual’s application will be denied based on the conviction. The CDSS also has the authority and responsibility to investigate arrests to determine if the underlying conduct is substantiated and therefore presents a risk to the health and safety of clients who are in care.

Get the clearance you deserve.

Work with the elderly in a Community Care License facility after obtaining your CDSS exemption.

If you received an exemption notification letter you can do any of the following:

  • Take no action. If you choose to not supply the documents to the CBCB within 45 days, CBCB will close the file. This means that you cannot work, provide services, volunteer or reside in the facility.
  • If the community care facility decided not to hire you and you are the applicant, you can seek an exemption on your own behalf that will allow you to seek employment or provide services elsewhere. However, you cannot be present (work, volunteer, reside or provide services) until an exemption is approved by the CBCB.
  • If you are the licensee (the community care facility, child care provider or health care organization) and you have received the letter regarding the conviction(s) of a potential employee, volunteer or adult resident, you must decide whether to request an exemption for that individual. If an exemption is desired, you must assist the individual by mailing exemption documents to the CBCB. If you do not wish to pursue the exemption and you decide not to hire or subsequently terminate the employee, the individual may request an exemption on his/her own behalf.

Shea M. Randall

Founding Attorney

What Steps Do I Need to Take to Request a California Exemption?

Seeking an exemption is a lengthy and time sensitive process and the more complete your packet to the CBCB, the faster the process will go. If you don’t complete the California exemption process properly, you will likely be denied employment, or, if you do obtain employment without the required California exemption, your position will remain at risk. Why live in fear of a random background check?

Our experienced California exemption attorneys are here to help with the exemption process.

We can assist with the California exemption process by:

  • Helping you obtain the required forms and documents, and
  • Providing guidance on how to complete them.

If your California exemption application is denied, we can also help you with your appeal. Please note, however, that you must request an appeal to CDSS in writing and your appeal must be received by the CDSS no later than 15 days from the date of the denial letter.

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