Bill to Protect Parish Volunteer Info Advances

Volunteers

A bill that would help protect the privacy of personal and residential information required to volunteer in Catholic and other organizations cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week and is headed to the Assembly floor.

The California Catholic Conference is sponsoring SB 905 by Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera).  Many organizations, in order to protect children, require people to be fingerprinted and clear background checks before they can volunteer. But some people who are undocumented are reluctant to volunteer out of concern that their immigration status will be revealed.

“During this COVID-19 crisis, we need volunteers more than ever. Especially now, people should not be held back by procedure from contributing to their community,” said the bill’s author, Senator Archuleta.  “SB 905 protects the privacy of Californians by no longer requiring a residence address on a background check. By not requiring an address on these background checks, we can provide assurance to individuals that they can volunteer in their communities without risking and compromising the safety and security of themselves or their loved ones.”

The bill is needed so that the Church, which is called to be place of safety and refuge, does not become complicit in the targeting of vulnerable populations. 

“Without SB 905, the state would be limiting the number of volunteers, which limits the support we can provide to our communities during COVID-19,” California Catholic Conference Executive Director Andrew Rivas testified during the Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing on the bill. “Our undocumented brothers and sisters are among those in need of services, and they are also those stepping up to volunteer and assisting the vulnerable, many of whom do so via our charities.”  

Please keep watch for an alert to help ensure the Governor signs this bill.

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