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In HB 424, "group home" includes both public and private facilities and is defined as an assisted living facility, a boarding home facility, a continuing care facility, or a supportive housing facility run by the state or local government. HB 424 requires the director of a group home to investigate the sex offender status of all new residents via the publicly available sex offender internet database. If the new resident is found to be a registered sex offender, the director is required to notify the residents or legal guardians of the residents. The notice is required to contain all information from the sex offender database. This bill grants immunity to the director and the group home in regards to the release of sex offender information. This bill exempts from mandatory notification those group homes specifically used for sex offenders.
Group home residents are generally elderly, physically incapable of caring for themselves, or mentally impaired and unable to independently research the sex offender status of other residents. Furthermore, these already vulnerable individuals live in close quarters with other residents making them even more vulnerable to those who might take advantage of them. This legislation establishes that it is a best practice for group home directors to act on behalf of their residents by notifying them if a new resident is a registered sex offender. This information empowers residents and their legal guardians to be alert and to consider whether they should make arrangements for alternative care. We recommend legislators support this legislation.