Trinity Mount Ministries

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Abuse Numbers Rise For Sacramento Foster Kids

Abuse numbers rise for Sacramento foster kids. County can’t say why:

Sacramento County foster kids are being mistreated at a rate not seen since the recession a decade ago, the latest state data show, but the county has no immediate answers about what’s causing the increase in confirmed cases of abuse of children in its care.

County officials substantiated 85 reports of maltreatment in Sacramento County foster homes between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. That's an increase of 30 cases, or 55 percent, from the same period the prior year, according to state Department of Social Services data maintained by the University of California, Berkeley.

Only five other California counties had a higher rate of substantiated child maltreatment cases per 100,000 days in foster care: San Bernardino, Del Norte, Madera, Siskiyou and Stanislaus.

“We are aware of it,” said Sacramento County Child Protective Services Deputy Director Michelle Callejas. “We are actually digging deeper into that data.”

In a review of substantiated complaints against Sacramento foster placements, The Sacramento Bee found a variety of violations, including physical and sexual abuse in residential foster homes, group settings and other placements.

In one instance, a county social worker investigating a January 2017 claim that a “foster mother starved foster child,” found that there was a lack of food in the house.

A June complaint alleged “unknown males allowed to enter facility and have sex” with foster kids. An investigation subsequently confirmed that men were able to come into the housing at night, and ordered the facility to improve supervision.

In another placement, investigators found that a staff member called “his friends to the group home to fight” in June 2016. The men attacked a foster youth, leaving him with a concussion. That same facility, though using a different name, was subsequently found not to have adequate food for its six foster youths twice during 2017 inspections. Most recently, it was cited by the county for failing to properly report that a resident with a history of arson set a fire in the facility in September.

Callejas said she convened a team in recent weeks to look at the rising numbers, but does not have answers yet. Callejas said the county would need to “do the hard file pull” to review records and examine each case to better understand the circumstances.

“I don’t want to speculate,” said Callejas. “I want to hear from my team.”

Callejas said there was no timeline for how long that review might take.

Sacramento has not seen such high numbers of substantiated child maltreatment in foster care in more than a decade. During 2006, 193 foster care maltreatment allegations were substantiated, but roughly double the number of children were in foster care at the time. In each of the last five years, the number of substantiated complaints generally fell between 40 and 60, state figures show.

State officials said they were also aware of the increase and were working “collaboratively” with Sacramento County to review the rise.

“It’s very typical when you are dealing in child welfare services that understanding what is going on is extremely important vs. doing something very quickly without being informed,” said Mike Weston, Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Outreach with the California Department of Social Services. “Obviously any abuse in care needs to be addressed immediately, but understanding some of the causes of that are important as well, and that’s really where things are right now.”

Trinity Mount Ministries

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