Home Care Services Branch to crack down on unlicensed home care providers

The state agency charged with regulating home care in California has added new employees to enforcement in an effort to better identify and correct unlicensed home care providers.

Beware of unlicensed home care providers
Beware of unlicensed home care providers

Sonya Wilson, who oversees the enforcement division of the California Home Care Services Branch, a division of the California Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division, spoke to managers and owners of home care agencies at the annual CAHSAH conference in May of 2024. Her topic included legal updates and information on how the state is enforcing regulations against unlicensed home care providers.

Members learn about unlicensed home care providers at CAHSAH's annual conference
Enforcing Unlicensed Home Care For Safety with 7 New Regulators 3

“We can’t thank you enough for doing the right thing,” she told the crowd, made up of agencies that meet licensing standards.

“If you see someone who is not licensed, let us know,” she added.

Wilson explained that her division recently changed from a bureau to a branch after hiring 15 new employees, most of them in enforcement. The goal is better compliance regarding unlicensed home care providers.

They used to have only 2 analysts in enforcement, charged with monitoring home care across the whole state. This made overseeing the more than 2041 home care organizations across the Golden State impossible.

Now the state has hired 7 more enforcement analysts, bringing the total to 9, which are divided between Southern and Northern California. Their mission is to bring unlicensed home care operators into complying with the same standards as fully licensed home care organizations.

The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act, enacted in 2016, requires Home Care Organizations to be licensed and created a online registry for Home Care Aides who have been background checked.

Among the regulations, home care aides must have five hours of initial training and five hours of annual training focused on health, safety, clients rights, abuse and neglect reporting, agency policies, etc. They must also be checked for Tuberculosis and must have a criminal record clearance. Anyone who has contact with clients, including managers and supervisors, must also be screened and vetted through the state’s Guardian online system.

Any organization which matches caregivers with clients and accepts payments from clients, except true referral agencies, must have a home care organization license and pay a fee of $5603 every two years. Be aware that caregivers are never independent contractors and referral agencies must not supervise or be involved in employees in any way. Using a full service licensed home care agency is better protection for the consumer. Hiring caregivers directly is not really cheaper when considering all the liabilities for families.

See this video below for a detailed description as to why.

Under the 2016 California law, Caregivers must be finger printed and certified as Registered Home Care Aides at a fee of $35 every two years. The bureau makes unannounced visits to home care organizations every two years to check that compliance standards are being met. The home care organizations must submit proof that they are incorporated, have by-laws that meet certain standards and employment practices and policies and procedures that follow state law.

In trying to identify unlicensed providers, the branch has a hotline and complaint line, and urges both consumers and other licensed home care agencies identify those not following the rules.

At Home Care Solution, a division of At Home Nursing Care, was among the original agencies licensed in 2016 as a home care organization. Our other line of service, At Home Nursing Care, Inc. is licensed as a home health agency by the California Department of Public Health. The line of service used by clients depends on whether they need a caregiver or a nurse.

Wilson said that over the last year there has been a 9 and 1/2 % growth in home care organization applicants.