New Assemblywoman Gonzalez Bill Protects Children from Abuse in Youth Organizations

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021) – Today, California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced new legislation Assembly Bill 506 to require youth-serving nonprofits to establish policies that protect children from abuse in order to receive insurance coverage, including background checks and training. This bill would also require long-term volunteers who supervise, or otherwise have direct contact with children, to be mandatory reporters.

“We've heard horrific stories of abuses against children that went unreported for decades,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “It’s not enough to hold abusers accountable after the fact. Parents should have the peace of mind that the adults who are entrusted to care for and provide a safe environment for our children are qualified and trained to catch incidents of abuse early on.”

In one of the most notable examples in recent years, approximately 90,000 claims of childhood sexual abuse were filed against the Boy Scouts of America. The organization filed for bankruptcy as insurance providers began dropping insurance coverage based on evidence the organization had knowledge of the decades of sexual abuse.

Under Gonzalez’s AB 506, a person would have to become certified as a mandatory reporter if they volunteer more than 16 hours in a month or 32 hours in a year. Youth organization volunteers, employees and administrators would be required to take online mandated reporter training and undergo a background screening. In order to receive insurance, the bill would require youth organizations to develop and implement child abuse prevention policies, including protocols for reporting suspected incidents.

“The staggering abuse claims over several decades against the Boy Scouts of America have shown us that more actions must be taken to protect our youth and that includes insurance coverage,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said. “This legislation would increase transparency and guarantee youth organizations have additional proactive measures in place to prevent child abuse. Our insurance companies can play a critical role in preventing child abuse through better volunteer training and reporting. I look forward to partnering with Assemblywoman Gonzalez on this public safety bill that would have insurance companies use their leverage for the public good and hold youth organizations that they insure accountable for their actions.”

Under California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), mandated reporters, which currently includes teachers, social workers, police officers and clergy, must notify law enforcement and social services of actual or suspected child abuse and child neglect.

For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Sami Gallegos: samantha.gallegos@asm.ca.gov