AB506 Resources for your Church/House of Worship

Here’s a helpful guide to understanding AB506 compliance requirements for churches and youth service organizations in California. The new California legislation (AB506) requires employees, administrators, and regular volunteers of youth-serving organizations (including houses of worship, religious organizations, and nonprofits) to complete training in child abuse & neglect reporting and undergo Live Scan background checks.

Like training and background checks, every Youth Service Organization should already have existing policies in place designed to prevent and correctly respond to child sexual abuse.

Read our FAQ for our best recommendations on how houses of worship and other youth-service organizations can comply.

Important Changes/Updates to AB506 – September 26, 2022

AB 2669 Delays ‘Effective Date’  for LiveScan Requirement:
AB 2669 pushes back the compliance/requirement date for the LiveScan background checks to be put in place until January 1, 2024. This only applies to organizations that did not previously require administrators, employees, or regular volunteers to undergo LiveScan background checks.

In short, the California legislature learned that California Youth Service Organizations needed a longer timeframe to accommodate the newly required search. AB 2669 allows Youth Service Organizations to plan for the administrative and financial challenges related to AB506 compliance.

Two-Adult Rule:
AB2669 removes the requirement for the “presence of at least two mandated reporters” in programs providing one-to-one mentoring to youth. Not surprisingly, this modification was requested by Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organizational model significantly impacted by the two-adult requirement. Other entities challenged by the two-adult requirement include youth counseling programs and religious organizations having one-to-one interaction in preparation for religious rituals and rites (i.e. Confirmations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs) and youth counseling programs.

In short, AB2669 says this: if an organization has a program (or program element) involving one-to-one mentoring, the two-adult requirement may be set aside IF the organization maintains regular contact with all parties involved (volunteers, parents or guardians), and has clearly implemented reporting policies, comprehensive screening, and effective training.

This mini-recording provides a deeper explanation of AB2669. Click the play button below, then click on Part 3: CA AB 2669 to view the video. 

Is a House of Worship a “Youth Service Organization”?

Although houses of worship are not clearly defined in the definition of a “Youth Service Organization”, the law should be interpreted broadly as applicable.

To whom is it applicable?

All administrators, employees, and regular volunteers. A “regular volunteer” is someone who is 18 years of age or older and who has direct contact with, or supervision of, children for more than 16 hours per month or 32 hours per year. However, the best practice across the board is to require every administrator, employee, and volunteer who wears your name tag to complete training and background check requirements, regardless of role and how many hours they spend with youth/children.

What actions does it require?

New Training Requirement:  All administrators, employees, and regular volunteers of youth service organizations are required to complete child abuse and neglect reporting training. AB506 notes that organizations may utilize the mandated reporter training provided by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in the State Department of Social Services. This training does not have an online record-keeping option. This will have to be done manually.

RECOMMENDATION: We highly recommend MinistrySafe’s training, which includes specific training on spotting groomers. MinistrySafe and Abuse Prevention Systems provide an extensive library of abuse prevention training, including Sexual Abuse Awareness Training, which includes the content to be in compliance with AB506 including addressing other forms of abuse AND California reporting requirements and processes. Youth Service Organizations seeking alternative training must ensure that any training alternative addresses the topics covered by the Department of Social Services’ training for mandated reporters. For example, an alternative training must address topics beyond child sexual abuse (i.e., physical abuse, emotional abuse, bullying, neglect, etc.) AND describe California reporting requirements and processes.  Agency customers receive the MinistrySafe membership for free here.

New Background Check Requirement: Unfortunately, even if you are presently using a background check service other than Live Scan, the AB506 bill specifically requires a Live Scan background check.

RECOMMENDATION: Don’t let LiveScan be all you do. We strongly recommend you keep any existing background check program in place in addition to the Live Scan requirement. Particularly a background check program that searches outside of California and includes a sex offender registry information. See pages 5-8 of the MinistrySafe article included for reasons why.

New Policy Provisions: Under AB506, formal, written abuse prevention policies are required. (c) A youth service organization shall develop and implement child abuse prevention policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, both of the following: (1) Policies to ensure the reporting of suspected incidents of child abuse to persons or entities outside of the organization, including the reporting required pursuant to Section 11165.9 of the Penal Code. (2) Policies requiring, to the greatest extent possible, the presence of at least two mandated reporters whenever administrators, employees, or volunteers are in contact with, or supervising children.

RECOMMENDATION: Assistance with creating and storing policies can be found at: http://ms.ministrysafe.com/ccia or www.safegatherings.com.

Does AB506 create requirements for independent contractors related to background checks?

AB506 was not a very well-designed piece of legislation.  The language, however, is broad in its focus on ‘who’: administrators, employees, and regular volunteers.  All administrators and employees are required to fulfill the training and background check requirements regardless of whether or not they work with or supervise children.  The only exception is for volunteers who are not considered ‘regular volunteers’.  When in doubt, treat independent contractors as you would an employee – after all, independent contractors are paid to perform services otherwise performed by an employee.

Alternatively, the question can be answered by evaluating the legislative intent: to protect children in youth serving organizations.

Generally, if a person will wear an entity’s nametag or have access to vulnerable populations (i.e., children), it is important that the entity perform a reasonable search of that person’s past criminal history – both the required LiveScan search and a search that will access sex offender registries and records outside California.  At a minimum, youth serving organizations should perform a LiveScan search on independent contractors that are in contact with, or supervising children (and a search that will access sex offender registries and records outside California).

Disclaimer: Given the ambiguity of AB506 as to independent contractors, each organization is encouraged to seek legal advice as to its unique situation.

Will AB506 affect my insurance?

Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. has underwriting requirements regarding sexual misconduct prevention and limits of coverage upon offer of binding or renewing coverage. The introduction of CA AB506 has not changed or altered these underwriting requirements.

Read AB506 FAQ