The Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) was created by the California Legislature in 1965 and is maintained by the California Department of Justice (CDOJ). In an effort to protect the health and safety of children in the state, individuals against whom issues of child neglect or abuse were reported and found to be substantiated are included on the CACI. As of 2011, it contained names of about 850,000 people who were suspected of physical, sexual, metal or emotional abuse and/or neglect of a minor.
People on this list have not necessarily been convicted of a crime, but surprisingly, until 2012, even people who were the subjects of investigations with unsubstantiated findings were likewise included on this list as a possible child abuser.
The CACI is made available to employers or agencies that have interactions with children. Such entities include foster homes, adoption agencies, licensed child care homes and centers, child welfare agencies, law enforcement, and schools. Besides being denied employment, people on the CACI may also experience custody issues involving their own children.
Police and prosecutors may also use the CACI for the purposes of aiding law enforcement investigations involving the same suspects and/or victims. Once a person’s name is added to the CACI, it will remain there for 10 years. If no further incidents are reported to the CDOJ within that 10-year period, the person’s name will be removed from the list.
Because people with unsubstantiated investigation findings were also placed on the CACI, the constitutional “presumption of innocence” was questioned. Several lawsuits against Social Services agencies and their employees began to emerge. Because there was no due process to remove a name from the list, reputations of people on the CACI were damaged for years, even though they were not charged with any crime.
In 2011, assembly bill AB717 was signed into law that made several, positive changes to the CACI. As of January 1, 2012, all unsubstantiated reports were required to be removed from the list, and only substantiated reports will be included in the CACI. In addition, anyone whose name is on the list will be given an opportunity to challenge the finding with the agency that forwarded the report in a due process hearing. If they win the challenge, the report will be removed from the CACI.
If you suspect your name may be on the CACI, there are two methods of verification: You may either complete the California Department of Justice Child Abuse Central Index Self Inquiry Request Form or simply write a brief letter to the Department of Justice asking if your name appears on the CACI. In both cases, the form or letter must be notarized.
If your name appears on the CACI, or if you have received a letter indicating that your name will be placed on it, call the Law Offices of Staycie R. Sena immediately at (949) 477-8088 for a free consultation.