The California legislature recently enacted a new law requiring youth-serving organizations to train employees and volunteers, and to have mandated reporters on hand. Given that the standard of care for youth organizations already requires these policies, I’m not sure that the law will change anything in practice. For example, the law requires a youth-serving organization to have “to the greatest extent possible” two mandated reporters whenever children are present. However, the law defines a “youth-serving organization” to be one that employs people who are mandated reporters under California law. The list of mandated reporters is long, and I’m having trouble imagining when an organization would have only one such person on duty.
The new law also requires training for volunteers who serve more than 16 hours a month or 32 hours per year. Best practices in the field already require that organizations train all of their volunteers, so it’s not clear how this law adds anything to the standard of care.
Finally, I’m not certain what the penalty is for violating the new rules. The statute is part of the Business and Professional Code, so there undoubtedly are penalties elsewhere in that code that California lawyers (I am not one) would understand. The statute does say that insurers may seek proof of compliance with these rules before writing insurance, so that would be one real-world consequence of not having adequate policies. If the prospect of litigation and failing to protect children does not already motivate an organization, however, I’m not sure what additional pressure this new statute provides.
The new measures will require such organizations to have at least two mandated reporters present when employees or volunteers are working directly with children. And it requires adults volunteering more than 16 hours a month or 32 hours a year to be trained in identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect.