Thursday, June 1, 2017
Grand jury: Humboldt County kids ‘ill-served’ by system meant to protect them
The following is a press release from the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury:
On Tuesday, May 30, the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury is releasing its first two of eight reports on its view of the state of our County. These are two related reports, dealing with two sides of one issue. These initial reports from the 2016-2017 Grand Jury both address the heartbreaking subject of child abuse in Humboldt County.
Child abuse and how it is addressed by schools, law enforcement, and County agencies, such as DHHS’ Child Welfare Services is an explosive issue. The Grand Jury confesses that in investigating complaints from school district professionals, it was alarmed to see a social services system that was so structured that at times it seemed dysfunctional. That dysfunction concerned our investigators because children’s lives are at stake everyday.
The full reports, which are available online on the Grand Jury page of humboldtgov.org, detail the laws governing the Mandatory Report process and subsequent follow-up by County agencies to instances of suspected child endangerment, sexual abuse, and neglect. We found major problems in how schools, law enforcement, and County agencies work to protect our “at risk” children.
The first report entitled RESPONDING IN TIME TO HELP OUR “AT RISK” CHILDREN addresses examples of slow response times to reports from school teachers, bus drivers, school nurses, and others to the proper authorities and how those responses may or may not be happening in a timely manner (required). Lack of timeliness and follow-up can have devastating results.
The second report entitled CHILD WELFARE IN HUMBOLDT: GETTING THE DOOR OPEN describes in detail, the money spent, the process that is required, laws governing the “intake” process, and the analysis in place to evaluate success or failure in caring for our children. The conclusions drawn are that the process in Humboldt County “critically needs improvement”.
Both reports offer plausible solutions that can be implemented within existing County budgets and structure and should be implemented with a sense of urgency.
There were hurdles to addressing the issues above. Privacy concerns for individual children or families, State legal actions which are in process, and at DHHS in particular, a bureaucratic structure that seems to stymie the sincere efforts of many hard working individuals. We are aware that efforts are underway to address these issues, but the Grand Jury feels that they need to be addressed publicly and promptly because it appears that “the children of Humboldt County are ill-served by the intake system that is meant to protect them”.
May 30, 2017
By The Times-Standard