Why was AB506 passed?
In 2020, Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, prompting what has been called the largest sexual abuse settlement in history.
The chain of events leading to the organization’s demise begins with the #MeToo movement. In response to #MeToo, multiple states passed legislation allowing accusers to sue for allegations of abuse dating decades prior. This move opened the floodgates for claims that were once non-pursuable to be re-examined.
Tragically, more than 82,000 accusers brought forward allegations of abuse against Boy Scouts of America. The organization has since apologized and stated its commitment to seeking justice for victims. Ultimately, Boy Scouts of America settled with survivors for 2.7 billion dollars.
To prevent such a system of abuse from ever occurring again in youth service organizations, the California State Assembly passed AB-506 on September 16, 2021. The new requirements have now become effective since January 1, 2022.
Who does AB506 apply to? (Do Churches count? yes!)
AB506 is targeted towards Youth Service Organizations. So, what exactly is a Youth Service Organization? A Youth Service Organization is defined as follows:
Youth service organization” means an organization that employs or utilizes the services of persons who, due to their relationship with the organization, are mandated reporters pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 11165.7 of the Penal Code.
Mandated Reporters are then defined as follows:
11165.7 (a) “mandated reporter” is defined as any of the following: (7) An administrator or employee of a public or private youth center, youth recreation program, or youth organization.
A mandated reporter is defined as an administrator or employee of a youth organization. A Youth service organization means an organization that employs or utilizes mandated reporters.
Let’s put it this way, if your ministry is ever providing any kind of youth organization, (ie. Youth group, day care, Sunday school) your staff have now become mandated reporters, and therefore your ministry now qualifies as a Youth Service Organization.
What are the new training requirements?
All administrators, employees and regular volunteers of youth service organizations must meet the new training requirements. A regular volunteer is defined as:
a volunteer with the youth service organization 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.
The training MAY be fulfilled through the state provided mandated reporter training at mandatedreporterca.com. While it is free, it is quite time intensive:
- Clergy / Employees are required to complete 4 hours of general training plus 2 hours of industry specific training
- Volunteers are required to complete 2 hours of industry specific training
ChurchWest is proud to partner with Church HR Network, who has created a faith-based training module that satisfies the state requirements in only 90 minutes.
What are the new background check requirements?
2. An administrator, employee, or regular volunteer of a youth service organization shall undergo a background check pursuant to Section 11105.3 of the Penal Code to identify and exclude any persons with a history of child abuse
Section 11105.3 states: ‘shall include the applicant’s fingerprints’
As a legal minimum, your ministry must run LiveScan on all mandated reporters to satisfy the state fingerprint requirement.
Your Ministry must apply to become an ‘authorized applicant agency’. This involves 4 fees:
- State Check – $32 for employees, Waived for Volunteers
- Federal Check – $17 for Employees, $15 for Volunteers
- Subsequent Arrest Notice – Sometimes waived for non-profits
- Fingerprint rolling fee – Free to $99 To find a location
You can find your location, go to the CA Department of Justice, find your county and sort by Rolling Fee cost.
What are the new supervision and policies requirements?
A youth service organization shall develop and implement child abuse prevention policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, both of the following:
- 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
It is not enough to report abuse to a ministry leader or pastor! Abuse MUST be reported to authorities outside the youth service organization.
- 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.
To the greatest extent possible, whenever in the presence of children there must be two mandated reporters.
What insurance should I have in place?
If your ministry does not already have it in place, we highly recommend adding Sexual Misconduct coverage to your insurance package. Specifically, you should discuss with your agent whether your insurance is ‘Occurrence based’ or ‘Claims made’.
The difference between these types of coverage makes all the difference during a claim.
Occurrence based coverage is the broadest form of coverage. If a claim occurred during the coverage period, it is covered subject to the other terms of the policy.
Claims made coverage places an additional requirement on coverage. A claim must not only occur during the policy period, but it must also be reported to the carrier during the same period.
This is critically important. Suppose a claim is brought forward against an organization 30 years after the fact. Even if the organization carrier insurance coverage for sexual abuse, if that policy was on a “claims made” basis it could very well be denied due to late reporting.
Check out our churchwest.com/ab506 page where we outline all the information you need for your ministry. You may want to share these resources with your ministry partners!
This is a complicated topic. Our agents at ChurchWest are very well versed on this topic and are happy to review your coverage and explain potential coverage gaps.