Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Independent Expert to Assess CPS Policies and Structure Following Deaths

Sacramento County officials announce Tuesday that they will hire an independent expert to conduct a CPS critical case and practice review. At the announcement, from left to right are Nav Gill, Sacramento County Chief Operations Officer, Lynn Frank, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Roger Dickinson, County Supervisor, Laura Coulthard, CPS Director and Ann Edwards-Buckley, deputy administrator.
By Marjie Lundstrom and Sam Stanton -
Last Updated 3:49 pm PDT Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Sacramento County officials say they hope to hire an independent expert within two weeks to conduct a probe of practices and policies at Child Protective Services, which has logged a string of seven children's deaths since September.

The consultant will work with an existing CPS oversight committee and will also evaluate how the agency is structured. The decision to launch a review follows individual meetings the agency and county officials have had with members of the board after last month's beating death of 4-year-old Jahmaurae Allen.

Jahmaurae had been the subject of a CPS case opened five weeks before he was beaten to death July 21, and authorities have charged his mother's live-in boyfriend in his death.
That suspect, Jonathan Lamar Perry, has been charged with murder and child endangerment and made a brief appearance in Sacramento Superior Court this morning.

He has not entered a plea and his case was continued until Aug. 19.

However, the death of Jahmaurae (pronounced "Ja-MAR-ee") spawned a firestorm of criticism of CPS, especially in the wake of an investigative series by The Bee that exposed shortcomings in its practices.

Supervisors Don Nottoli and Roberta MacGlashan have raised concerns about the series of deaths dating back to September.

MacGlashan told The Bee she wanted an independent look at the agency.
"The idea is not to have it be one of these year-long projects, but to be more strategic and timely," she said.

Supervisor Roger Dickinson attended a press briefing this afternoon with CPS and other county officials and said board members had asked him to represent them at the announcement of the plans to hire an outside expert.

Dickinson said CPS labors under heavy budget cuts and strained manpower and that "we are asking our social workers to do a huge and critical job."

He added that CPS' response to the latest death - ordering a review of active cases and suspending the social worker involved - were appropriate.

"In my opinion, our staff has taken exactly the correct steps," he said.

CPS Director Laura Coulthard said a review of 921 active cases involving children 5 and younger found no major problems that needed to be corrected. She added that the agency is making changes in some procedures, including creating a swing shift to help handle cases that emerge late in the day.
CPS handles 4,000 calls a month, Coulthard added, but she said she was not blaming budget woes for the recent deaths.

"Any time there is a child death it is totally unacceptable," she said.

Other children's advocates have called for a stronger response, specifically a new investigation of the agency by the county grand jury.
Original Link with more pics +

1 comment:

flutter1 said...

I share your disgust with CPS. Although I am not in California, I advocate for children through the legal system and seen time and time again that CPS is overwhelmed and apathetic.

Shame on them for failing in their mission to protect children.