[Audio] Child abuse and neglect handled poorly, says grand jury; Humboldt’s last week of news

In the latest episode of Humboldt Last Week (9:50): After an eight-month investigation Humboldt County’s Civil Grand Jury released reports suggesting there are significant problems with the way allegedly abused and neglected children are protected here.

With the analysis setting sights on the Sheriff’s Office, the Office of Education, and mainly Child Welfare Services (CWS), vulnerable kids are potentially falling through the cracks. Some notable takeaways? Questioned accusations of cops ratting out schools to families for filing reports, schools allegedly not archiving reports in the interest of anonymity allowing kids with multiple incidents to go unnoticed, and CWS not following up on over half of their 2,859 incident reports in 2015 and 2016. It’s said in the majority of the cases not followed up on by CWS — who are under investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office — reporters or victims were not contacted.

“There’s major communications issues between many of the players involved with dealing with child abuse investigations,” said Times Standard reporter Will Houston, who has been covering the grand jury reports in-depth. “It appears that under-staffing and high turnover at (CWS) is playing a pretty large role into that… Now it seems that within the start of this year some movement is going forward in terms of efforts to improve communications and efforts to improve and meet current protocol.”

In the podcast Houston discusses what he’s learned so far from Sheriff William Honsal, Superintendent of Schools Chris Hartley, grand jury foreman James Glover, those overseeing CWS, the state Attorney General’s Office, and others.

According to the grand jury report Humboldt County spends $6.3 million annually to help abused, neglected and emotionally harmed children. Some solutions offered up by the grand jury? Developing a way to rate how the those involved are handling these cases, getting those involved to respond to child abuse and neglect faster, obtaining enough capable staff, and generally to improve communication all around. It’s been said CWS is already making major changes, for example they are now connecting hotline callers directly to social workers.

The Sheriff’s Office, the Office of Education and Child Welfare Services are all required to submit responses to these reports within 60 to 90 days of the reports being received.

The story begins at 9:50.

Also covered

Crime, a crazy dog bite, more car races, the women-only showing of “Wonder Woman,” more sweet words from Sara Bareilles per usual, a bill to extend last call, trauma care designations for some local hospitals, and much more.



  • I wonder if CWS has been looking in to all the run aways here lately? ?

    • From what the article says about them, most likely NOT!!!

    • I’ll tell you what CWS don’t care about the kids they don’t care about the well-being and safety of the children all they care about is removing them from a home in placing them in a foster home to get the money because each time they get removed to get more money each and every time they could give a shit less they don’t go do their job they don’t like to do the job themselves then we’ll worry about what the foster parents do you and I know this from first-hand because I’m a mom that was in the situation because my case in January of this year do you know reason for move my kids they took my I did everything they asked and some CWS case don’t go over more than a year and less you’re applying in doing with the ass mine with for years did talk to my kids out and the tribal remember kids they can adopt them out and they did I don’t know them into the California on Buzzman got nowhere I turned it in a complaint form with the attorney general office I got a reply back in the mail I have heard nothing since I won’t burn on beyond her head I filed a writ got denied not filed it with the Supreme Court and I’ve been waiting haven’t heard nothing since January they don’t care your kids are getting her taken from family California state law states that it’s recertification rights it’s in adopting them out they don’t do that I don’t get to talk or see my kids and I’m supposed to put order they don’t care all it is is about the money it’s sad if I get nowhere with the Supreme Court my next plan the next step is taking it the more Povich CNN headline news Norcross Jonas I’m just gonna keep going on from there I will not give up on my children

  • Thinking allowed

    Mostly the local government fritters away a bunch of money on what elected official wants, not needs. The nuts and bolts government of actually achieving doing what government has already taken on lacks glamour and is not monitored or funded. They should do less but do what they have committed to do better.

    A social worker’s time is taken up by revenge anonymous reports where some ex, neighbor or relation wants to cause trouble or someone has an unfounded opinion. Then no matter what is done or not done, media and the public will pile on over any ugly incident. Half the population will be screaming that the parent’s rights are being abused and the other half will be screaming that the child needed to be removed from the home.

    With the volume of paperwork, conflicting requirements and no public support and little understanding, it’s amazing any social worker can accomplish anything. It’s not a wonder that the program falls short- it’s a wonder anything gets done at all.

    • You said a lot, but you missed this: hchhs believes providing services at any of the branches costs them money. So,as an example, a department like adult protective services will have a staff of ten at an average of $40k annually, (so about$400k before anyone has been assessed much less
      helped) and those staff are actively discouraged from opening clients to services or granting them hours of care because that “costs money they don’t have.”
      CWS reintegrates kids into families a blind person can see aren’t capable of parenting because the department doesn’t have foster family funds….but how many staff do they have that don’t house kids?
      Blablabla isn’t a service,so they don’t spend $6.3 mill helping kids. They might spend 10% of that helping. The rest is wasted.

  • Double speak outside of cheek

    This has been the status quo for years. I am tired of hearing of the “overworked and not enough funds or people to handle the volume of reports”. No excuse. These are innocent, victimized children. Do your job CWS.

  • Maybe cws should stop approving free services for offending parents–such as free gas cards when the parent decides to move (when they really didn’t), making excuses for offending parents, and literally allowing offending parents to manipulate the system. If these offending parents want their kids, they’ll do what it takes. It does way more harm than good to continue to let children be traumatized again and again, in the quest to force an offending parent to take interest in their own children. It took over two years for cws to finally agree that the offending parent was not going to come through for my kid, in my child’s case. Granted I had full custody and the offending parent had weekend visits, my kid has done a million times better since not seeing the offending parent in months, when cws dropped the case. CWS also needs to stop allowing addicted mothers the benefit of the doubt, over completely fit and fighting fathers.

  • Sleepy Alligator

    The system should be ashamed of itself! Not protecting the kids, especially abused or neglected ones, should be considered a crime in itself. Instead of spending so much time, money, and resources “eradicating” people’s crops they should be helping these kids. After all, that would actually be protecting and serving.

    • I quite agree they should focus on more important things such as Child Abuse & Dangerous Drug use such as Heroin or Meth or even Crack instead of concentrating so much time & resources to pretty much legal growers!!!

    • Except one common abuse situation is a child who lives on pb&j or cereal as their parent sits stoned on the couch. Because those are what a child can make for themselves . Pot makes all ok.

      • What a moving memoir that would make.. “my parent watched tv stoned”. Unreal. Sounds like a horror movie from the 50’s.

      • Truth.
        This is a true scenario w potheads. Kids aren’t truly abused or truly neglected, just ignored and kept quiet, without any attention.
        Not in danger, just not educated or thriving.
        I’ve seen it, and I’ve loved those kids and shared my family, money and time with them so they’d feel attached and connected.

        • Sleepy Alligator

          Generalizations are rarely accurate and usually invalidate whatever is being said. I know plenty of very intelligent, creative, and successful adults who I watched grow up as the children of “pothead” friends of mine. If you were to ask them about they’re childhood some might laugh, some might just shake they’re head, and some might roll their eyes, but not one would say they were ever abused or neglected. They would be thankful for being exposed to things like music, art, the environment, etc. And believe it or not some of them usually made their own meals whenever they felt like eating. Now I’m not saying all “pothead” parents are great parents, just saying they’re not all bad parents.

  • Veterans friend

    I sat on a jury in a case of alleged child molestation. The mother of the child in question accused the foster parent & had so obviously coached the child, and so obviously invented the allegations that the defendent was vindicated on the first ballot in the jury room. The case was supported of course by CWS who had prior approved the foster placement because of the drug addiction & neglect by the mother. CWS never did any part of their job and allowed & encouraged the charges to be brought despite the complete lack of evidence.
    The defendent’s life was destroyed. Many months spent in jail awaiting trial, their home was lost, all posessions gone, reputation in eternal question.
    CWS needs to be reminded forcefully of their mission.

  • Wow about time Cws is getting investigated!!! How do you social workers sleep at night knowing you have played with god and judged all these people?? Not your job!! I’ve been through the cws drama wow what a ride!! Remember one thing life is a gift you can’t play with parenthood it’s something that’s given from god and not to be taken away from a complete stranger who has no clue on what to do!! Or has more power then the parent

  • BigDinyourface

    The county should be investigated on all ends in all departments.

  • Wen it comes to children everything must be done to protect them from any harm,#1 TOP PRIORITY it’s our job as adults and parents and human beings!!!🙅🙋

    • Most of these kids are from “parents” that shouldnt have kids in the first place. I agree gmas. Itll be as long as killing people is more important then educateing them. Yep. I spelled edukate wrong…….

    • Thinking allowed

      One big problem is that, although some cases of abuse are clear up front, many are not clear until way after the child should have been removed. Someone makes a call, or even many make a call, and it may be true or it might be a bunch of relatives or former friends attacking the parents using the government. There are almost always two totally different stories being told. He said-she said. And the stories change constantly. Even the kids lie out of fear. And just try to get some people to put anything down in writing! The doctors are afraid of getting sued, the cops and social workers who need the cops to come with them on high risk cases need warrants, the judge wants proof, the media wants a one liner to report, not the complications. And the agencies are barred from defending themselves by privacy rules. And then the lawyers get involved and some politician wants to use blame to distract the public from their own guilt.

      It could be better but only when the public really knows what it wants.

  • This is not surprising to me. More than 1 dozen reports were made over the past 5 years in 1 case, by at least 5 separate parties and nothing was done. Right up to the end they tried to get the kids back to the abuser. Sorry excuses for human beings. I’m sure there’s a decent social worker out there somewhere, but it needs to be said: CWS should be swept to get the druggies and lazy losers out of those jobs. The director needs to do her job and clean house or face an inquiry.

  • Totally unpopular politically, but probably about time to do it–although the potential for abuse of it would be stupendous– is actually requiring licenses to have children. The Idiocracy is based on people unsuited to have children having most of them. So lifelike! And situations like the one in this report show that these wrong people having kids leads to more kids who are abandoned, abused, and quite likely to repeat the cycle sooner than later, producing the next short generation of addicts to violence, alcohol and tobacco, drama, crime, stupid sex, and drugs.

  • Hmm 22 years ago the Grand Jury reported the same facts from an investigation. A good program to address some of the families that fell through the cracks was started but as many things in these institutions it was replaced with an “evidenced based program” that maybe didn’t meet the needs of those families as well. Also it has become harder to engage many of these families and it is very true the Social Workers are of a different caliber these days. Many of the older CWS workers were either run off by bad administration or retired. I can agree the system is not working well. One huge problem all around the Humboldt County DHHS system is a lack of collaboration that once existed.
    Lauracoosky – My mother often lamented it took more to be able to drive a car than have a kid.

  • “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” Is a Jesuit motto and was employed by Adolf Hitler in formation of the Hitler Youth movement.

    While there are certainly abuses, the “good of the child” argument has been used many times throughout history to persecute and even kill.

    Remember Waco Texas? For the good of the child.

    How many sodomite Jesuit and Catholic priests have been executed or imprisoned for abuse? Who is it that is making these complaints to the Grand Jury about vaccinations and child welfare? Who owns a controlling interest in the pharmaceutical companies?

    The Vatican and pharmaceutical industry


  • Why should it be 60-90 days to be investigated. The poor child could be dead in 15 minutes. I have seen some of the kids with bruises, filthy dirty and so very thin. The school reports them and it takes 60-90 days if CWS chooses to do anything. The kids should be jerked from their home on the day it is reported. Poor little guys can’t do anything on their own except run away. Something should be done NOW!!!

  • Feeling bad for human race

    In this town it also has to do with who likes you or dislikes you. To be hired at CWS someone has to at least like you. If you go against their way of thinking you will never get hired and that is why so many leave. To get good help the higher up needs to look past who they don’t like.

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