What is CACI?
California's Child Abuse Central Index is commonly referred to as CACI. CACI is a list of suspected child abusers maintained by the California Department of Justice. It includes those suspected of physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, and severe neglect of a minor.How did my Name Get on CACI?
Your name could have been referred to CACI by either a law enforcement officer (if you were placed on the CACI prior to 2012) or by a county child welfare services agency, such as the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, for example.
Often, child welfare services agencies and law enforcement will become involved in your life because they received a report from the child's family member, parent, baby sitter, neighbor, day care or some other child abuse mandated reporter.Should I Cooperate with the Social Worker Investigating my Case?
When social workers receive a report of alleged child abuse or neglect, they conduct an investigation to obtain all the facts. However, social workers are not neutral. They are biased; they have an agenda. If you have been contacted by a social worker for an interview, it can be unwise to grant them the interview. They are not your friends. They are not there to protect you or to clarify a misunderstanding. Their job is to do everything in their power to discover even the slightest risk of harm to a child. If you do grant them an interview, remember that anything you say can and will be used against you. Your comments may be used by prosecutors to bring criminal charges against you.
When the social worker has completed her gathering of the facts, she makes a determination to either: 1) close the case with no further action, 2) conduct a parenting plan in an attempt to keep you and the minor together as long as you follow their mandates (such as complete parenting classes, attend AA meetings, and the like), 3) take one of the two above actions PLUS refer your case to the DOJ for placement on CACI; or 4) refer your case to the DOJ for placement on CACI PLUS refer your case to the juvenile dependency courts in an attempt to have the child taken from the home and into protective custody and seek the termination of your parental rights.What are the Potential Results of a the Social Worker's Investigation?
The social worker who investigates your case will conclude that the allegation against you is either 1) substantiated, 2) inconclusive, or 3) unfounded. If the allegation is determined to be substantiated or inconclusive, your name will be forwarded to the California Department of Justice for placement on CACI. The only way to avoid being placed on CACI is if social worker determines the allegation is unfounded.
UPDATE: As of October 5, 2011, AB 717 (Ammiano) was signed into law by Governor Brown. The new California law, commencing January 2012, prohibits your name from being listed in the Child Abuse Central Index if the allegations against you were found to be inconclusive or unfounded. This means that only a finding of substantiated results in your listing on the CACI.Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me at my CACI Grievance Hearing?
The county child welfare agency is required to mail you a letter notifying you that they are placing your name on CACI. The only way to fight to keep your name off CACI is to request a "grievance hearing." The grievance hearing is not conducted in a court of law. It is not conducted by a judge or a lawyer. There is no jury. However, in a grievance hearing, it is you against the government. Your chances of winning a grievance hearing are already slim because the government has already decided to put your name on CACI. You need a lawyer by your side who knows the process, knows what to say and what not to say, and knows how to win.
In short, you are permitted to represent yourself in your hearing, but I strongly advise you to hire a lawyer to help you.How Long Will my Name Stay on CACI?
If your name is placed on CACI because the allegations were deemed to be substantiated, you will stay on CACI for the rest of your life, barring a successful appeal. If you were placed on CACI due to an inconclusive finding, you will stay on CACI for ten years.
UPDATE: As of October 5, 2011, AB 717 (Ammiano) was signed into law by Governor Brown. The new California law, commencing January 2012, prohibits your name from being listed on the CACI if the social worker concluded the allegation is "inconclusive."
UPDATE: Pursuant to Penal Code 11169(g), as of January 1, 2013, a child whose name was placed on the CACI only one time, with no subsequent listings, shall be removed from the CACI 10 years from the date of the incident resulting in the CACI listing.Who Will Know my Name is on CACI?
The CACI list is not available to the general public. However, the 9th Circuit court has noted that the CACI database is available to a "broad range of third parties for a broad range of purposes," most of which are designed to prevent suspected child abusers from working with children or having children placed in their homes or in their care. (Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, 554 F.3d 1170, 1177-1178 (9th Cir. 2009).) The following people and entities have access to the list to find your name on it:
- Law enforcement
- Day care providers
- Potential employers
- Licensing agencies
- Child welfare agencies
- Organizations for whom you volunteer (schools, churches, youth groups, summer camps, etc.)
- All of the above entities, but from other states (not just California)
- Military/federal contractors
If you are placed on CACI, you may never be able to adopt a child, become a foster parent, work at a school or day care, operate a day care at your home, obtain security clearance, etc. Your spouse will also never be able to run a day care out of your home. If you have a sibling who has listed you in his will as the designated person to care for his children in the event he passes away, being on the CACI may prevent you from fulfilling your sibling’s wishes. As the 9th Circuit Court noted, being listed on the CACI creates “a stigma and a tangible burden on an individual’s ability to obtain a right or status recognized by state law”. (Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, 554 F.3d 1170, 1188.)
On the other hand, even if you are placed on the CACI you may still be able to avoid the above negative consequences because any agency that accesses CACI information must make an “independent assessment regarding the merits of the investigating agency’s finding of substantiated or inconclusive child abuse or severe neglect.” (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, section 903.) “An entity receiving CACI information shall not act solely upon CACI information or the fact that an individual is listed on CACI to grant or deny any benefit or right.” (Ibid.) (See also Penal Code sections 11170, subds. (b)(10)(A) & (e)(2) and 11170.5(b).) See In Re A.V., Cal. Court of Appeal, 1st Dist., 2nd Div. 2011.Why Should I Hire Tate Lounsbery as my CACI Defense Lawyer?
There are only a handful of lawyers (or maybe not even that many) in all of California who handle CACI matters on a regular basis. I successfully represent people in CACI Grievance Hearings on a regular basis. You need an experienced and knowledgeable CACI defense lawyer on your side because that gives you the best chance to win.Contact a San Diego CACI Lawyer Today
There are only a handful of lawyers in San Diego County who handle CACI matters on a regular basis. Lounsbery Law Office, PC successfully represents people in CACI Grievance Hearings on a regular basis. You need an experienced and knowledgeable San Diego CACI defense lawyer on your side. Contact us today to learn how we can fight for your rights. Learn more about the challenges you must overcome to win your Grievance Hearing.
Go to our Resources page for more information about CACI. Tate Lounsbery is fluent in Spanish and can conduct your legal consultation in Spanish.