SACRAMENTO – Legislation inspired by the 2017 wildfires from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would ramp up penalties for caregivers who desert elders during emergencies cleared a key committee today on a unanimous vote.
“We simply cannot allow our seniors to be left behind to fend for themselves when disaster strikes,” Sen. Dodd said. “They must be protected, especially with the growing wildfire threat. This bill penalizes caretakers who shirk their responsibilities and encourages more people to do the right thing.”
Senate Bill 314 adds “abandonment” to the list of offenses eligible for enhanced civil remedies under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.
About 150,000 California elders live in assisted living facilities. Many are not able to protect themselves during disasters due to dementia, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses and frail health. Their safety is entirely in the hands of facility owners, administrators and caregivers.
Department of Social Services officials last year placed the two Santa Rosa assisted living facilities on probation after investigations found they abandoned residents during the North Bay wildfires. At least 20 frail, elderly residents would have died had family members not arrived to rescue them before one of the facilities burned to the ground.
SB 314 cleared the Assembly Judiciary committee today on a bipartisan vote. It will go to the Assembly floor later this month. It previously was approved without opposition by the full Senate.
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.