Del Norte DHHS’s Practice Discouraged Child Abuse Reports, Says California Attorney General’s Office

Press release from the California Department of Justice:

California Attorney General logoCalifornia Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has entered into an agreement with Del Norte County’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to address DHHS’s obligations under California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.

The agreement announced today follows the Office of the Attorney General’s review of Del Norte County DHHS’s practice of sending letters discussing criminal penalties for “false reporting” of suspected child abuse or neglect to persons who had come forward to report abuse or neglect. California DOJ concluded that this practice discourages the reporting of child abuse and neglect, and directly conflicts with the goals and the spirit of California’s child protection laws.

“California’s child protection laws are meant to protect our children from harm and ensure that those in positions of authority respond promptly. This means that when people come forward to report suspected crimes against our children, we take them seriously and never discourage the reporting of potential abuse or neglect,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The agreement reached today is another example of the California Department of Justice working together with public agencies to identify and remedy deficient practices so that all of us can do our part to provide for the safety and welfare of all our children.”

The agreement between California DOJ and Del Norte County DHHS, memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), requires Del Norte County DHHS to immediately implement corrective action with respect to the false reporting letters and to provide mandatory training to all child welfare staff. The agreement also provides for an independent review of Del Norte County DHHS’s screening and intake policies, procedures, and practices by an expert consultant and establishes a plan to address other identified deficiencies after the review is complete.

The mission of California DOJ’s Bureau of Children’s Justice is to protect the rights of children, especially in instances involving the interplay of multiple agencies or disciplines, and to focus the attention and resources of law enforcement and policymakers on safeguarding the children of California.

A copy of the MOU can be found here.



  • They don’t do anything about abuse anyway.

  • They should just fire the current staff. Rehire and train new people. Bad habits are hard to kick. New trainings for current staff will do nothing. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Once they are broken in they are stuck in their old ways.

  • Gollee, can you say “chilling effect”?

  • Veterans friend

    The result of the high percentage of prison employee relatives in government jobs there. They have a reduced level of compassion & empathy.

  • life is good OG

    They need to check Humboldt County too. Laziest bunch of people are the child abuse workers at DHHS. So many kids abused and neglected in this area. They don’t do a damn thing.

    • simone whipple

      Dear life is good OG,
      My experience with DHHS workers, is that they are understaffed, and over worked. I have found that they do their best to address reports. They have criteria that must be met. They do not just go in and grab children away from their family.
      I agree with you that there are too many abused, and neglected children.

      What was reported in Del Norte is absolutely despicable. It is extremely difficult for a neighbor, and especially a family member, to make a report of child abuse to the authorities. It is good to know that steps are being taken to rectify the actions taken by the county.

  • You all have no idea how difficult it is to address most child abuse allegations. I didn’t do it directly but saw them in the course of doing other work. Yes there are lots of family who file reports constantly over family disagreements. It is time consuming to sort true from false and sometimes it is never clear. Highly emotional accusations abound. Other times the accusations are incredibly silly yet must be addressed. Work loads are high and the definition of handling work efficiently is being assigned more work than can be done. This makes it hard to work on those cases that need the attention. I could never do it in a million years.

    If you want thorough and conscientious action, you need to bloody pay for the staff as taxpayers AND do more than file anonymous, unverifiable reports.

  • The reporting? They’re concerned about the timely reporting rather than the timely helping?
    Reminds me of the new Project Veritas undercover video about teachers needing to report their abusive acts right away so the top head can spin the bend.

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