Category Archives: CPS Tainted Numbers

Time CPS Put Under State Law Enforcement Control

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CPS is a failed Federal Agency and does not meet the needs of Families or Children

Officials admit Child Abuse blunders

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA  –  County authorities are admitting to interagency communication breakdowns and negligent reporting in combating rampant child abuse, but say improvements are in the works.

Officials made the admissions late last week in response to two scathing civil grand jury reports about multi-agency failures by schools, law enforcement and county Child Welfare Services to report and combat child abuse effectively.

The grand jury probe concluded that Humboldt’s social services system is so structured that at times it appears “dysfunctional.”

The panel issued a two-pronged warning in the wake of an eight-month investigation:

  • “The safety net for our children critically needs improvement.”
  • “The children of Humboldt County are ill-served by the intake system that is meant to protect them!”

The Union reported in December that the county’s child abuse and neglect rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the California average, according to Mary Ann Hansen, executive director of First 5 Humboldt, the family support and child abuse prevention agency (Union, Dec. 10, 2016).

The weekend edition of the Times-Standard quoted Sheriff William Honsal acknowledging that communications between his office and Child Welfare Services have “absolutely failed over the last couple of years” to react quickly enough to reports of child abuse and neglect. He faulted Child Welfare case workers for lax communications but said the two agencies are at work on shoring them up, the newspaper quoted him stating.

The grand jury report voiced strong skepticism that the promised improvements will materialize.

Times-Standard reporter Will Houston also quoted Chris Hartley, Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools, that school district officials have been meeting monthly for several years with counterparts from the Department of Health and Human Services and that the dual grand jury reports will, belatedly, kick off discussions about coordinating child abuse reporting.

In stinging rebukes, two 2016-2017 civil grand jury reports, “Responding in Time to Help our ‘At Risk’ Children” and “Child Welfare in Humboldt: Getting the Door Open,” fault major problems in how schools, law enforcement and county agencies work to protect highly vulnerable youngsters.

“Lack of timeliness and follow-up can have devastating results,” warns the exposé on slow response times. Among the findings:

  • School districts struggle with their responsibility as Mandated Reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect.  They often describe their contacts with law enforcement and child welfare as “frustrating” and “problematic.”
  • Of the five school districts investigated, comprising numerous schools, all representatives “expressed high levels of frustration with Child Welfare Services in the initial filing and subsequent handling of Mandated Reports.”

The Arcata School District gave high marks to the cooperation of the Arcata Police Department in child abuse investigations, but other districts registered multiple complaints about sheriff’s stations in their locales.  Frequently, deputies “do not answer our calls,” “tell us they do not have sufficient personal to investigate” or they investigate “but do not leave a report” of the investigation.

School employees were “vociferous in their complaints” about Child Welfare Services.  The grand jury spelled out the critical remarks:

  • “They often do not return our calls.”
  • “The Child Welfare hotline is “totally worthless.”
  • “We don’t go that far South.”
  • “That is not within our jurisdiction.”
  • “You should call the sheriff’s office about this.”

School personnel told the grand jury that often they never receive a reply from Child Welfare about a filed Mandated Report.  The most common replies, if any, are “does not meet the state requirements for intervention” or secondly, “referred to other services.”

The latter means Child Welfare made an initial inquiry and then referred a family to voluntary social services or another community agency – but did not follow-up on whether the family followed through.

Turning to law enforcement, virtually all the of officers interviewed stated that drugs and alcohol were involved in the majority of the Mandated Report cases they investigated.

Like the school districts, law enforcement cited numerous problems in dealing with Child Welfare.  In multiple instances, the difficulty is a severe lack of timely interagency communication.

Two examples, according to law officers (CWS refers to Child Welfare Services):

  • CWS tends to send a week’s supply of requests late Friday afternoon, making it difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to begin investigations until the following Monday.
  • In cases involving possible physical or sexual abuse, law enforcement must be contacted within hours, but the sheriff’s office is sometimes called days or weeks after CWS receives an initial report.

The child abuse report voiced doubts, based on past experience, that law enforcement and Child Welfare will improve their mutual openness and communication.

“While the Grand Jury supports apparent current efforts to create a task force to improve transparency and communication, the history of such past efforts gives us reason to be skeptical at this time.”

All of the social workers interviewed “appeared to be seriously dedicated to the work they were doing” with at-risk children, but said the Department of Health and Human Services has overwhelming caseloads, high turnover and lack of experience in dealing with the caseload.

Child Welfare staff dismissed school district complaints, alleging that many Mandated Reporters do not know how to fill out their reports properly or understand the criteria to be followed.

However, the grand jury found that “of the approximately 250 redacted Mandated Reports that we read, not one was filled out inappropriately or inaccurately.”

IL CPS Close Cases Without Police Or Doctor Contact

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George Sheldon, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

DCFS under fire for quickly closing
Child Abuse investigations

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigators are overwhelmed by high caseloads and are being pressured to quickly close their abuse probes, even when they have not performed basic tasks like contacting police and doctors, according to several experts and lawmakers who spoke Tuesday at a joint House-Senate hearing in Springfield.

Front and center at the 90-minute hearing was state child welfare director George Sheldon, who faced intense criticism about the recent deaths of youth who had been the subject of DCFS investigations as well as the agency’s failure to protect vulnerable children and their families.

The hearing was prompted by a May 11 Tribune report on three Cook County cases in which children died of beatings or starvation shortly after DCFS closed investigations into mistreatment in their homes, as well as the case of 17-month-old Semaj Crosby, who was found dead last month in her Joliet Township home after the agency closed four neglect probes, and was in the midst of two more.

At the hearing Tuesday, the agency revealed it had conducted several additional probes involving other youth in the same house.

State Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, said she also was troubled by the Tribune’s account of a new DCFS program called Blue Star that offers overtime pay to Cook County investigators who significantly boost the percentage of cases they close within 14 days.

“Enough is enough,” Flowers said.  “Our families are suffering.”

Sheldon defended the agency but acknowledged that investigations sometimes failed and children were harmed because his workers often were not communicating properly with each other or with outside agencies and private contractors.

“We’ve got to do a better job of coordination,” Sheldon said at the hearing.

Sheldon’s testimony came as he continues to weigh whether or not to leave the agency.  Last week a Florida nonprofit offered him its top job with a $210,000 annual compensation, but Sheldon said he needs until the end of this month to make up his mind.

In addition to headlines about child deaths, he is facing state ethics probes into DCFS contracts that benefited his friends and political associates in Florida, the Tribune has revealed.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Sheldon said that the Tribune reports prompted him to ask the agency’s general counsel to review whether Illinois laws should be changed to enable DCFS to retain records of past unproven allegations.  The agency currently must expunge and shred most investigators’ files if it determines there is no credible evidence of abuse or neglect.  That handicaps investigators because patterns of mistreatment may only emerge by analyzing the information in those “unfounded” cases, Sheldon said.

“How can our workers have a full view of what is going on in a family?”  he asked, noting that Florida and most other states keep records in unfounded cases.

Heidi Dalenberg,general counsel for the ACLU of Illinois and cooperating counsel in a three-decade-old consent decree governing DCFS, expressed frustration that Sheldon was proposing new laws and a smorgasbord of improved technologies and programs.  She said the agency is simply failing to conduct thorough investigations and ensure children are safe.

“It is this kind of flailing about that is not helpful,” Dalenberg said at the hearing.  The agency’s entrenched problems cannot be repaired “by leaping to the first easy solution.”

‘Overwhelmed’ by cases

Danielle Gomez, a supervising attorney for the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office, which represents state wards in juvenile court, detailed a litany of recent investigations she said were botched when DCFS did not interview key witnesses or gather critical evidence.  In one case the agency investigator interviewed youth in front of the alleged perpetrator, she said.

“We are seeing this a lot … I could go on and on,” Gomez said.

DCFS investigators told her staff that they were “overwhelmed” by high caseloads, Gomez added, saying:  “They are sometimes in tears about the things they are unable to do, about the pressures on their caseloads.”

Stephen Mittons, a 22-year child protection investigator who heads the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2081 union representing those workers, underscored that point with caseload statistics from March.  Eleven of the 15 investigators in Rockford had caseloads well over the limit of 12 cases per investigator mandated by the federal court consent decree, Mittons told legislators.

“It’s the same all over the state,” he added.  “We are short-staffed and carrying high caseloads. … I am sitting on 25 investigations and just received my 18th investigation for this month.”

One of the lawmakers questioning Sheldon, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, separately introduced a house resolution asking the state auditor general to assess the agency’s protocols for investigating reports of abuse and neglect.  That proposed audit would review DCFS investigations within the past five years.

“We have to find out why DCFS closes so many cases so fast.  They are closing cases too soon,” Ford told the Tribune outside the hearing.  The death of Semaj Crosby “tipped the scales.  DCFS seems to be a pool of trouble,” Ford said.

Despite high-profile child deaths and repeated warnings about high caseloads, DCFS was failing to improve, said the agency’s Inspector General Denise Kane.  “There are organizational flaws.”

Crosby investigation

In a Joliet courtroom Tuesday, a DCFS attorney said the agency will give some cases in Will County a second look in the wake of Semaj’s death.

The agency plans to review a random portion of the 110 cases where children remain under their parents’ care but still require services, said Susan Barker, an attorney representing the agency. DCFS typically contracts with outside agencies to provide those services.  In Will County, the agency works with Aunt Martha’s and Children’s Home + Aid.

Barker told Will County Judge Paula Gomora that the agency plans to do a quality assurance review of 10 to 30 percent of the cases each of those outside agencies handles for DCFS.

Sheldon said at the Springfield hearing Tuesday that he had received his agency’s internal Quality Assurance Review and recommendations about Semaj’s case, and will release it shortly, after consultations with the Will County State’s Attorney.

“The more information that is out there, the more we can learn from these kinds of situations and the more we can make changes,” Sheldon added.

While declining to provide details of that internal report, Sheldon noted that DCFS had opened abuse and neglect investigations that referenced five children at Semaj’s home — three youth, including Semaj, belonging to Sheri Gordon, and two others belonging to a relative who lived there.

The residents at the home were being contacted by at least four units of government, state Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, said at the hearing, including DCFS and an agency contractor, Will County probation services and the region’s special education cooperative.

But DCFS had no process to amass and compile reports from those various government agencies, and was not communicating with them.

DCFS had a total of 11 abuse or neglect investigations into that household, DCFS Senior Deputy Director for Operations Michael Ruppe said at the hearing, including probes into an aunt of Semaj’s and another adult resident.  Those investigations were handled by at least four different DCFS workers, Ruppe added.

Sheldon said: “When you’re not connecting these cases and you have five persons going out … each person doesn’t necessarily know what the other person did.”

Sheldon said he was working on a technology overhaul that would improve communication between workers, but he and Ruppe declined at the hearing to say when those upgrades might be implemented.

Flowers said that Tuesday’s hearing was just the first of several she plans through the summer “or maybe longer.”

As the hearing closed, she addressed her final comments directly to Sheldon.

“This one is on you — whether you leave or whether you stay, this agency is supposed to work,” Flowers said.   “This needs to be fixed, and the hurt and the pain and the suffering families are going through needs to stop.”

Prosecutor Says CPS Covering Up Own Misbehavior

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Protesters gathered outside the headquarters of LA County’s Department of Child and Family Services.

Social Workers Charged in Gabriel Fernandez Child Abuse Case Plead Not Guilty

April 17, 2017

‘Red flags were everywhere,’ a judge said following a preliminary hearing in the Child Abuse case

Los Angeles, CA  –  Two former social workers and their supervisors, who are accused of failing to protect an 8-year-old Palmdale boy from deadly abuse by his mother and then-boyfriend, pleaded not guilty Monday to child abuse and falsifying records.

Four Social Workers Charged

LA Judge Walking Tall Against 4 CPS Employees

Stefanie Rodriguez, 32, Patricia Clement, 66, Kevin Bom, 37, and Gregory Merritt, 61, were fired from their jobs following an internal investigation into the May 24, 2013 death of Gabriel Fernandez.

On March 20, all four were ordered to stand trial on one felony count each of child abuse and falsifying records.  Each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

They are set to return to court April 27 for a pretrial hearing.

Pearl Fernandez, 33, and her then-boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, 36, are awaiting trial on a murder charge stemming from her son’s death. The District Attorney’s Office plans to seek the death penalty against the two.

Following a preliminary hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar found that the social workers and their superiors had a duty to protect the boy and had plenty of reason to suspect that the youngster might be seriously injured or killed.

“Red flags were everywhere, yet no referrals were ever made for a medical exam,” Villar said, citing reports of injuries by Gabriel’s teacher, who took photos, and a welfare office worker.

“The abuse was clearly escalating.  Reckless and criminal negligence is found here,” the judge ruled.

Clement’s attorney, Shelly Albert, told reporters early this month that the prosecution was “an aberration” and said it amounted to holding the social workers “vicariously liable for acts of the parents.”

Gabriel’s death prompted a firestorm of criticism of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services over reports that social workers repeatedly visited the family’s home in response to allegations of abuse but left the boy in his mother’s custody.

James Barnes, one of two attorneys for Merritt, told reporters following the preliminary hearing that Villar’s ruling was “totally incorrect legally,” contending the legal duty that the social workers had was not to the child, but to control the mother’s behavior.

There was simply not enough evidence for the Department of Children and Family Services to take the child away from his mother, the defense attorney said.

He said the escalating violence cited by the judge occurred months after Merritt had already closed the case file on Gabriel.  The only complaint his client was aware of was bruising on the boy’s bottom, and parents are allowed by law to use corporal punishment, Barnes said.

“My client and the others are being scapegoated,” he said, calling the case an excuse for DCFS’ lack of sufficient staffing to handle child abuse cases.

Palmdale elementary school teacher Jennifer Garcia testified that she called Rodriguez multiple times to report that Gabriel said his mother punched him and shot him in the face with a BB gun.  Her first call came more than six months before Gabriel was killed.

An autopsy showed the child had a fractured skull, several broken ribs and burns over his body, according to authorities.

Villar said records were incomplete and inadequate, parties weren’t talking to one another, incidents went undocumented and some people who are mandated to report abuse failed to do so.

Defense attorneys argued during the preliminary hearing that others were culpable in the boy’s death and were better positioned to have saved the boy.

“Gabriel was certainly not left on an island by himself” when the case was transferred to another DCFS unit, argued Joseph Gutierrez, another attorney for Merritt.  He said one therapist failed to report serious injuries because her supervisor told her not to.

The case was transferred to the Family Preservation Unit to “put more eyes” on Gabriel, said Rodriguez’s attorney, Lance Filer. “(Rodriguez) was the only one … to substantiate any of the claims … she did exactly what she was supposed to do and had been trained to do.”

Gabriel was seeing a counselor twice a week and a sheriff’s deputy stopped by at one point to check on the boy and found no evidence of abuse, according to the defense.

“This was unanticipated, not foreseeable,” Gutierrez argued, adding that it’s “contrary to human nature, to human reason” that a mother could kill her child.

“I don’t think there’s anyone who feels worse than these four social workers,” Gutierrez said.

But Deputy District Attorney Ana Maria Lopez accused the defendants of making “a deliberate choice to circumvent the system,” taking shortcuts and violating procedures.

Prosecutors allege that Rodriguez and Clement falsified reports that should have documented signs of escalating physical abuse and the family’s lapsed cooperation with DCFS.

Prosecutors also contend that Bom and Merritt knew or should have known they were approving false reports that conflicted with evidence of Gabriel’s deteriorating physical health, allowing the boy to remain in the home until he died.

An investigation revealed that at times over an eight-month period preceding his death, Gabriel — among other instances of violent abuse — was doused with pepper spray, forced to eat his own vomit and locked in a closet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, authorities have said.

“It was their responsibility to protect Gabriel,” Lopez said, “to remove this child and put him in a safe place.  That’s where they failed.”

The prosecutor accused the social workers of “professional arrogance” and questioned whether they were “covering up their own misbehavior” in failing to reconsider their earlier decisions when the violence began to escalate.

 

Oregon CPS Worker Accused Of Falsifying Reports

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Miguel A. Fuentes III, 34

DHS worker arrested on allegations of
falsifying Child Abuse reports

Oregon  –  A state employee has been arrested on allegations of falsifying child abuse reports, deputies said Thursday.

Miguel A. Fuentes III, who works in Child Protective Services for the Oregon Department of Human Services, turned in reports showing contacts and interviews that didn’t happen, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

“Other reports contained false statements and work that was allegedly completed” during days he was off work, deputies said.

Detectives began reviewing cases assigned to Fuentes after a sheriff’s office detective and DHS employee working on a child abuse investigation found inconsistencies in reports he finished. Detectives found falsified information in at least 15 of his cases, deputies said.

They said Fuentes, 34, is facing 15 counts of tampering with public records and first-degree official misconduct.

His employer put him on administrative leave when it got wind of the investigation in November 2016 and has since given cases he was involved in to other workers, according to the sheriff’s office.  A DHS spokeswoman said he remains on administrative leave.

Fuentes most recently worked in Beaverton and has been a DHS social services specialist since August 2011, deputies said.

Fuentes is being held in the Washington County Jail.

Lawsuit filed against NH DCYF

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It is time to clean this ccorrupt agency up!!!!

Grandparents sue Child Protection Agency over Child Sex Abuse

There is NO WAY that I will list the details of this case.  ANYONE that would sexually abuse a Child should live the remainder of their perverse life in confinement, AT THE VERY LEAST!!!!
~ Robert StrongBow ~

CONCORD, NH  –  The grandparents of two young sisters who were sexually abused by their parents while in foster care are suing New Hampshire’s child protection agency.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by the girls’ grandparents, who have adopted them.  It alleges the Division for Children, Youth and Families allowed the biological parents to have unsupervised visits with their children in 2013, even after police began investigating reports that the couple had molested other children at a homeless shelter where they were living.

Attorney Cyrus Rilee says major reforms are needed, starting with an immediate increase in child protection workers.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers says the department takes the need to ensure child safety and wellbeing seriously and has been working to improve staffing.