Last Updated: April 21, 2021
In an effort to automate criminal background checks, the California Department of Social Services launched Guardian—a self-service background check tool used to help employers and employees get faster clearance during the hiring process.
However, according to some reports, it seems that in reality the opposite is happening. The most recent report comes from ICU nurse Meynard Villa who’s been struggling with hiring care workers for the new senior home he started in Arcadia because he couldn’t clear them.
Senior Care Homes Suffer the Consequences
Criminal background checks comb through public databases for any signs of previous criminal behavior. They are essential for the hiring process, especially for sensitive positions such as care workers, babysitters, nannies, etc.
So, when Villa tried to hire workers for the senior care home he invested $150,000 in, he was met with a broken system—he couldn’t log on, received no answers from Guardian about why the portal wasn’t working, nor could he get help from state workers. This resulted in a delay in employing care workers, costing him two clients for his six-bedroom home and almost leading him to bankruptcy before his business could even kick off.
He was forced to resort to “old-school” methods for hiring two workers by reading their names and Social Security numbers to the Department of Social Services. This was precisely the type of practice Guardian was created to replace. Nevertheless, Guardian cost him six additional potential hires because he couldn’t use it to run background checks.
Meynard Villa’s case isn’t an isolated one. Pasadena-based HR manager Vera Davidson is in charge of employment for home care provider Home Instead. She complained about the lack of communication from Guardian. Davidson said, “by the time we get any sort of answer to any of our questions, it’s things that we troubleshooted ourselves already, like months ago.”
However, Davidson stated that the turnaround time for processing background checks has dropped over time. She doesn’t attribute this improvement to Guardian but instead says it’s because of “things we figured out kind of on our own.”
Guardian representatives insist that the system is working smoothly, effectively, and quickly. It’s difficult to believe this after reading about these negative experiences people are having. Only 38% out of 60,000 licensed facilities in California are using the tool. The numbers speak for themselves—it seems that state representatives are in denial about Guardian’s efficiency. No progress will be made unless they take their customers’ complaints seriously.
Besides following the outdated route of reading out personal information to the Department of Social Services like Meynard Villa was forced to do, there are other options.
When Villa became desperate, he decided to contact his county supervisor—Sen. Susan Rubio—and was able to log into the Guardian system four weeks after that.
However, if you don’t feel like going through the trouble of contacting senators, you can still use background check websites made especially for this purpose. You just have to be informed about what you should look for in one.