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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Two new state laws affect home-care services for seniors

Two new bills passed in last fall’s state legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown promise to have an immediate and long-term effect on California’s senior population.

AB241: Domestic Worker Bill of Rights

With our rapidly aging population and 90 percent of California’s seniors wishing to remain at home as they age, home-care aide is among the top five fastest-growing job occupations. These workers provide care to hundreds of thousands of seniors and disabled Californians every day. Historically, these workers have been exempt from overtime pay, but effective Jan. 1, they are eligible for overtime pay after nine hours in a day and 45 hours in a week.

On the surface, this change may not appear to be substantial. It’s hard to argue against providing overtime to any workers. Indeed, the net effect to seniors who require hourly care during the day should be minimal – perhaps a 5-10 percent increase in cost. However, a large number of California seniors and disabled require live-in care. Unfortunately, the new law did not take these situations into account, because all pay after the ninth hour in a 24-hour day must be paid at time and a half. It is essentially a 50 percent increase in cost for nearly two-thirds of the hours worked.

This seemingly small change in the law has prompted an immediate increase of 30 percent or more in the cost of live-in care. The law applies both to privately hired caregivers and those hired through an agency.

Interestingly, however, the state exempted itself from its own law. The hundreds of thousands of aides employed by the state through In-Home Supportive Services will not be paid overtime because the cost to the state would have been hundreds of millions of dollars.

AB241 expires in three years unless renewed. In the interim, Brown is setting up a committee to review the impact of the bill. I encourage you to write the governor and/or your state representatives to let them know your thoughts. See the sidebar on page 41 for contact information.

AB1217: Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act

After several attempts over the past seven years, legislators finally passed a bill to require licensure and oversight of organizations providing nonmedical in-home care to seniors. The law doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, which provides time to implement the regulations in a thoughtful way that promotes safety for consumers and professionalism of the home-care aide occupation in general.

For agencies like mine, Homecare California, the requirements are the same that have been practiced for years – thorough screening and criminal background checking of employees, liability insurance and theft bonding of aides, tuberculosis screening and caregiver training.

But AB1217 adds mechanisms to check the status of both home-care agencies and consumers as well as the status of their aides on a state website much like they can do today for a nursing home, nurse or nurse assistant.

And while there will be substantial costs to home-care agencies to support the program, I believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. For example, aides can be fingerprinted once and those results can be shared among agencies. Today, each agency has to perform its own background checks, and there is inconsistency to the extent each agency performs its check. Homecare California fingerprints its aides, whereas some agencies use the aide’s Social Security number and last-known address.

California can set the example for a well-thought-out implementation of licensure that puts consumers first and then balances the needs of workers and organizations that employ them to promote a steady flow of professional, well-trained aides to keep costs to seniors from rising too rapidly.

If you have questions about how these laws may affect your individual situation, feel free to contact me and we can discuss which provisions you may want to put into place to ensure that you comply with the new state laws.

Greg Hartwell is founder and CEO of Homecare California, a Los Altos-based in-home caregiving agency. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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