Governor Signs Gonzalez Bill Creating Safeguards to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse in Youth Organizations

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – (September 16, 2021) – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 506 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) into law, which mandates background checks and child abuse prevention training for all staff and regular volunteers of youth service organizations. 

“As a parent, I want to know that my kids are in a safe environment when they’re part of a youth service organization,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “This is a commonsense bill to make sure the adults entrusted with caring for children receive the proper background checks and training on what to look for to spot any signs of sexual abuse early on. These safeguards will help root out child abusers from serving in these organizations and better protect our kids.”

Under AB 506, youth service organizations will now be required to implement a policy of having a minimum of two mandated reporters present when staff or volunteers are working directly with children, to the extent it’s feasible. AB 506 establishes additional child abuse prevention policies, including requiring any adult volunteering more than 16 hours in a month or 32 hours in a year to complete a training in identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect.

The most notable recent example of widespread child abuse in a youth organization occurred within the Boys Scouts of America, where a lawsuit alleged nearly 90,000 incidents of child abuse took place across more than four decades, leading the organization to declare bankruptcy in 2020. By mandating fingerprint-based background checks, AB 506 will ensure a more thorough screening process for staff and regular volunteers of youth organizations to flag known child abusers with criminal records before they ever have an opportunity to work with children.

AB 506 is sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and will take effect January 1, 2022. 

For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov