- California AG Investigation Concludes With Agreement Requiring Sweeping Changes to Humboldt Child Welfare Services
- Flaws in County System for Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Triggered a State Investigation. Here’s What’s Changing As a Result.
- Once Drowning in Unresolved Reports of Abuse and Neglect, Local Child Welfare Services Department Says It’s Clearing Out Backlogged Cases
- State Attorney General Pursuing a Court Order to Compel County’s Compliance With 2018 Child Welfare Judgment
The following statement from both the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Sheriff William Honsal was issued Wednesday evening in response to this press release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in which he announced that his office is seeking a court order to require DHHS’s Child Welfare Services Division (CWS) and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office to take steps to fully comply with a judgment secured by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2018:
The Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) is aware of the Attorney General’s press release today regarding his office’s intent to pursue an extended monitoring period and for the imposition of additional terms and requirements to the existing Stipulated Final Judgment.
To be clear, the current dispute between the parties does not involve any current or existing violations of the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), but rather the state’s desire to waste taxpayer money on unnecessary consultants and monitors. DHHS has already offered to stipulate to an additional one-year monitoring period in which we would report directly to the Attorney General’s Office, with continued oversight by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Indeed, CDSS already conducts this exact type of monitoring activity for all 58 California counties and also disseminates guidelines and regulations that DHHS, and each of the other 57 counties, must comply with and follow.
Additionally, DHHS is already required to submit a System Improvement Plan to CDSS, which incorporates and aligns with the Stipulated Final Judgment. Yet despite this, and despite spending more than $1.5 million in third party monitors and consultants and despite that the issues which gave rise to the Attorney General’s intervention have already been corrected, the Attorney General continues to insist that our community pay for an additional two years of monitors and consultants who have no actual or specific experience in California child welfare laws and practices. This is fiscally irresponsible to do so, particularly in the middle of a global pandemic and amid an economic downturn. DHHS remains committed to protecting children and families in Humboldt County, but simply desires the flexibility to identify and retain monitors and consultants who will benefit our community long after the Attorney General moves on to its next project.
Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services Director Connie Beck said, “The investigation happened in 2015, and since 2018, when the Attorney General’s judgement was filed, we have increased staffing by 30% and have implemented numerous program strategies to assist staff to do the work necessary in our community. We’ve made tremendous strides and stand behind our staff, and we will continue to do the good work that we are doing in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office and work in partnership with our community, law enforcement and tribes to keep children safe.”
Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said, “The Sheriff’s Office and CWS work closely to protect county children which is our top priority. Through our refined systems and protocols, we have continued to ensure that mandated reports of child abuse and neglect are quickly investigated and that children are protected.”