Allies for Every Child has joined California Alliance of Child and Family Services in calling on the state of California to improve the Guardian Background Check System to better serve children and families. Guardian is a background check system initially launched in January 2021 by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). While intended to protect children and families through a streamlined, comprehensive criminal and administrative background check process, the new system has been plagued by unacceptable delays, technical issues and miscommunication. Over the past few months, the average processing time for background check clearances has been between 91 and 101 days, and most organizations are not provided with an explanation for delays. These continued delays affect the ability of organizations like Allies to hire new employees and recruit foster parents, which in turn directly impacts the children and families we serve.

As a member of the California Alliance, Allies calls on CDSS to make the changes needed to reduce processing times immediately; provide a timeline for hiring additional staff needed to address the backlog of applications; re-assign current CDSS staff in order to address delays; direct Guardian technical assistance staff to provide clear information on the reasons for delays when they occur; meet with our coalition of organizations to provide updates, identify solutions, and troubleshoot any urgent concerns; ensure interdepartmental communication and coordination between the Guardian unit and Community Care Licensing Division (CCL); and provide ongoing trainings to organizations to inform them of best practices for using this system.

For more information, read the Guardian Advocacy Coalition Letter.