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                  1992-93 Santa Clara County Grand Jury
         
         
         
                              FINAL REPORT
         
         
        1.  INVESTIGATION:  THE DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND
            CHILDREN'S SERVICES



INVESTIGATION: THE DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND CHILDREN'S SERVICES
         
         
SUMMARY

     The Department of Family and Children's Services in the
Social Services Agency (SSA) is charged with providing child
welfare services to abused and neglected children in accordance
with the California Welfare and Institution Code.          

     The Grand Jury was informed by the independent auditor that
the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) has made
more progress within the last two years than it had made in the
previous twenty years. The Grand Jury acknowledges that progress
has been made but found major areas in need of attention. These
include: practices and procedures in the foster care system;
child abuse reporting; checks and balances relating to internal
processes  within the department; and a noticeable absence of
management and individual accountability in decision-making.
         
         
INTRODUCTION
                 
     U.S. Public Law 96-272, the Adoption Assistance and Child 
Welfare Act of 1980, reflects a dramatic change in the goals and 
philosophy of child welfare practices. Historically, the practice 
of separating neglected and abused children from their families 
and placing them in out-of-home care had been in place since  the 
first Elizabethan "poor laws" in England during the sixteenth 
century. Public  Law 96-272 mandates prevention of unnecessary 
separation of children from their families by providing social 
services to these families. Since the impetus for the  law was the 
problem of "foster drift,"(1) the goal of the act was to ensure  
permanence for children, preferably with their natural families. 
         
     The interpretation and implementation of Public Law 96-272, 
however, was left to the states, thereby providing no minimum 
standards. A recent national study(2) found that the majority of 
the time and effort of the staff of social service agencies is 
spent on services available once the child has been removed from 
the  home rather than on primary prevention services. This finding 
suggests that the  states' prevention efforts are directed 
primarily toward children identified to be at risk of-or already 
in out-of-home placement, rather than prevention of risk itself. 

**FOOTNOTES**
(1)"Foster drift" is defined as excessive time spent by a child
in the foster care system prior to a definitive resolution of his
or her status.

(2) Ref. 9

INVESTIGATION
         
     In 1990 the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors 
commissioned an audit by the Harvey M. Rose Accountancy 
Corporation of the county's system of services for the protection 
of abused and neglected children.  The report made several 
recommendations designed to improve the level of service provided 
by  DFCS. Based on this report and in response to community 
concerns the Grand Jury elected to revisit the agency to 
determine what changes, if any, had been made regarding the 
protection of abused and neglected children. 
 
     A Santa Clara County Social Services Agency publication(3) 
states that approximately 26,000 child abuse and neglect reports 
are filed annually. The  Department of Family and Children's 
Services places over 3,000 children in foster homes and another 
159 children in adoptive homes. This department is charged  with 
the responsibility of protecting the interests of Santa Clara 
County children  who are victims of child abuse and neglect. DFCS 
has approximately 550  employees and an annual budget of 
approximately $40 million. It is divided into nine units.  Each 
unit is supervised by a program manager.  Grand Jurors interviewed 
the Director of the Social Services Agency, the Director of the 
DFCS,  and representatives of each unit.  Others interviewed 
included judges, child  advocates, psychologists, the SSA 
ombudsman, social workers, natural parents, foster parents, and 
representatives from both the district attorney's office and 
county counsel. The jurors also visited the Children's Shelter, 
including the  Assessment Center, the Child Abuse and Neglect 
(CA/N) Center, and Clover House and Monroe House, both of which 
are county visitation centers where parents can have supervised 
or unsupervised visits with their children.  With the support 
received from the Superior Court, the Grand Jury reviewed a 
selection of  case files. The jurors spent time in Juvenile Court 
listening to and observing pending cases, and attended a training 
seminar on court report writing which was sponsored by the Social 
Services Agency. 
         
         
FINDINGS
         
Reports of Child Abuse
         
     The Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act of 1974,
commonly known as the Mondale Act, has been expanded several
times. In order to qualify for federal funds, Public Law 96-272
requires that states had to pass legislation that provided
immunity from prosecution for all those reporting child abuse. 
In  addition, states were also required to pass laws mandating
that specified persons  report suspected child abuse and neglect
to the appropriate child protection agency.

**FOOTNOTE**
(3) Ref.10.

     Although California's child abuse reporting law dates back to 
1963, the basic reporting system used today was established in 
1980 with the passage of SB 781, a bill supported by the 
California Department of Justice. There have been several 
amendments to the reporting law since 1981. California's child 
abuse  reporting law is found in Penal Code Sections 11165 through 
11174. 
         
     The purposes of the child abuse reporting law are:
         
     1.  To protect children by the earliest possible
identification of child abuse;
         
     2.  To provide help to families in trouble;
         
     3.  To identify persons suspected of crimes against
children.
         
     The primary intent of the California reporting law is to
foster and establish cooperation between persons mandated to
report child abuse and the public agencies charged with the
responsibility to protect children and help families.
         
     Penal Code Section 11165, subdivision 9, contains the legal
definition of child abuse. The subcategories of the child abuse
definition are further defined in Penal Code Section 11165,
subdivisions B through F.
         
     The reporting law also establishes a system, the entry
point, which is the CA/N System.  Senate Bill 14 is California's
implementing legislation which sets priorities for working with
reports entering the CA/N System.  In effect since October 1, 
1982, the bill directs efforts toward: 
         
     1.  Preplacement preventive services;
         
     2.  Family reunification;
         
     3.  Permanent out-of-home placement.
         
     The Santa Clara County CA/N Center, a unit of DFCS, receives 
all reports  of alleged child abuse and neglect and determines 
whether the reports should be forwarded to the Emergency Response 
(ER) unit for investigation or should be  handled on a nonemergency 
basis. The CA/N System is vast and complex. As mandated by law, 
cooperation and coordination is required from many agencies  
including the Juvenile Court, education, the police and mental 
health. The Grand Jury found evidence of communication, cooperation 
and coordination among some of the agencies. DFCS has personnel 
assigned to the juvenile unit of some police departments within 
the county, such as San Jose and Sunnyvale. Their job is to act as 
a liaison between the police and DFCS. The assigned social worker 
can  conduct joint interviews with the police officer and do 
diversions on site.  Further, the social worker can work with 
officers in fostering community awareness of social service 
matters. In roughly 90 percent of the cases, it is the police 
officer who actually removes the child from the home. 
         
     In January 1993 the Child Interview Center was opened. This 
joint effort between the DFCS and the San Jose Police Department 
is another example of cooperation, coordination and communication 
among the agencies and was a response to the recommendation of a 
prior Grand Jury investigation. Personnel for both departments 
attended a state-sponsored training session in Long Beach. 
         
     The CA/N Center receives 120-140 calls per day and operates, 
as mandated by law, on a 24-hour basis. The majority of calls come 
from child care and health care providers. A segment on child 
abuse by a popular television talk show or a local news article 
about the failure to report child abuse by a child or health care  
provider prompts calls to the CA/N Center to skyrocket. Managers 
within the department agree that over-reporting takes place for 
varied reasons with the primary reason being one of fear:  fear on 
the part of child and health care providers because of the 
possibility of the loss of job, prosecution and jail, or fear of 
potential harm to the child. Some parents will report child abuse 
in an attempt to gain sole custody of a child. The department 
acknowledges that these types of reports drain already limited 
resources allocated to children's services. 
         
     The Grand Jury visited the CA/N Center and listened to the 
taking of reports and reviewed existing initial reports. The 
jurors learned that sometimes it does not take much of an 
allegation to land a child "into the system." In one particular 
case a seven-and-a-half-year old boy was reported, by the principal 
of the school, as a sexual abuser because he "inappropriately 
touched" two playmates.  Because of this report the child will be 
questioned about possible sexual abuse by his parents. Further, the 
parents will be subjected to the same type of questioning  
regarding the possibility of sexually molesting their child. It 
appears that there may be a tendency to jump to an unwarranted 
conclusion for what could possibly  be nothing more than a case of 
innocent, although inappropriate child play.  When the Grand Jurors 
voiced concern about this particular case, a manager responded  
with, "Where else would a child learn that type of behavior?" The 
jurors invited the CA/N manager to watch television. 
         
     Many within the department appear to overlook the fact that 
there are  ways, other than sexual molestation, that children can 
be exposed to what is termed "inappropriate behavior." The jurors 
reviewed a case where a child was actually removed from the home 
based on a report from a child care provider.  In this particular 
case the child, age four, was alleged to have "French kissed"  
another playmate. On the theory that this behavior could only have 
been learned at home, an allegation of child abuse was lodged 
against the father. The child was subsequently removed from the 
home because the mother would not believe the allegation and was 
therefore believed to be incapable of protecting the child.  It was 
only after the father removed himself from the home that the child 
was returned to the mother. The parents have been financially 
ruined as all their assets have been funneled into efforts to end 
the nightmare. 
         
     Also in this particular case the Grand Jury has learned that 
the reporting child care director incorrectly reported the facts 
as relayed by a teacher. The teacher who witnessed the incident 
reported to the Grand Jury that the matter was blown out of 
proportion. The children did not kiss, and contrary to the report 
to DFCS the child had not been involved in a prior incident. The 
teacher also said  she was contacted by phone by the District 
Attorney's Office and DFCS.  However, they did not meet in person 
and a formal statement was not taken. She believes the reason for 
this was simply that she did not say what either of them wanted to 
hear. 
         
     The work performed by social workers at the CA/N Center, and 
subsequently at the Emergency Response Center, is of the utmost 
importance.  Sixty percent of reports to the CA/N are sent on to 
the Emergency Response Center for further assessment.  It is at 
these initial processing stages that decisions are made that can, 
forever, affect the lives of parents and children. As  the law is 
currently interpreted by mandated reporters, any type of sexual 
behavior may be reported as "inappropriate sexual behavior." There 
is no latitude for child play.  This lack of common sense is 
further exacerbated by the frequent assumption that any type of 
behavior must have been learned at home, thus going from 
unjustified evaluation of child behavior to equally invalid 
conclusions about parents' culpability. 
         
     In another case which the Grand Jurors reviewed, the principal 
of a school reported emotional abuse by a parent. After the 
principal let the student know  that he would have to notify the 
parent of continued poor academic performance, the student said 
she would be afraid to go home if such a call was made.  Based upon 
this conversation, the principal suspected emotional child abuse 
and made  "the call" that changed the life of this family. The 
parent was later given an hour's notice of the detention hearing. 
He couldn't make it, and his daughter was taken from his care. This 
occurred in 1991 and, as of May 1993, the student  remains out of 
the home. In its review of this case the Grand Jury did not find  
any reasonable evidence of abuse on the part of the parent. What 
was found was  a parent who appeared to care greatly for his 
daughter and her welfare but would  not admit to something he did 
not do.  His refusal to admit to abuse was viewed as a lack of 
cooperation on his part; therefore, his child was not returned. 
         
     Federal law mandates immunity from prosecution for those 
reporting child abuse.  Therefore, there is no deterrent for 
reports made for other than honorable purposes.  This law needs to 
be changed to reflect and acknowledge that untrue reporting 
occurs, and there should be a penalty for reporting other than 
legitimate  and well-founded child welfare considerations.  

     There is no doubt on the part of most people interviewed, and 
from most  of the cases read by this Grand Jury, that the majority 
of the reports of child abuse are valid.  However, there is growing 
concern about the number of unsubstantiated child abuse reports. 
For example, it is believed by some in the  DFCS that in child 
custody battles, sexual molestation allegations have become a tool 
used to gain custody of children.  Managers within the DFCS 
acknowledge that this is a growing trend but appear confident that 
they are able to identify these cases and handle them in a fair 
and timely manner.  The Grand Jury is not as confident of the 
department's ability to identify and dispose of these cases.  Once 
an allegation is made, the accused parent immediately loses contact 
with the child.  This lack of contact can last for more than one 
year. There appears to be a standard line of thinking: that the 
alleged perpetrator must admit to the act as a condition for the 
return of the child.  Further, that to not admit means one is in  
denial and will offend again.  Therefore, the child cannot be 
returned home. 
         
Assessments and Investigation
         
     The law mandates that CA/N assume the leadership role to carry 
out the intent of the reporting law. The Grand Jurors were 
surprised to find the manager of the unit was unaware of this 
requirement. Although there is positive interaction between the 
unit and various police departments within the county, it is clear 
that  more can be done and more needs to be done.  As it stands, the 
CA/N system does not foster enough coordination and collaboration 
among all agencies responsible for the protection of children.          

     The safety of children is left in the hands of the dependency 
investigator in the Social Services Agency whose primary 
responsibility according to documentation . . .is to investigate 
allegations of abuse in a timely manner.  Within 48 hours of the 
time a child is taken into custody, the investigator must talk with 
the child (if over 4 years of age), the parents, and any other 
principals about the allegations that have been made that caused 
the child to be taken into custody.  The dependency investigator 
must determine what, if any, services can be provided so that the 
child can safely  be returned home and make arrangements for these 
services to be provided.  If the child cannot be returned home 
safely, a petition must be filed within 48 hours of the time the 
child is taken into custody.  

     Having read a number of cases and interviewed both line and 
management staff, the Grand Jury believes that a major problem 
exists in the functioning of the dependency investigator.  When the 
investigative function was transferred from  the Juvenile Probation 
Department to the Social Services Agency, the social worker had to 
assume responsibility for investigation as well as assessments. 

Foster Care System 
         
     Foster care is one of many child welfare services provided
by the  Department of Family and Children's Services. A child
enters the foster care system as a result of having been a
victim of physical, emotional, sexual abuse;  neglect;
exploitation; parental absence or abandonment.
         
     According to statistics provided by the Santa Clara County
Social Services Agency, 25,499 cases of child abuse were
reported to the CA/N Center in fiscal  year 1991-1992.
Dispositional action was taken on 25,614 cases which include 
actions on cases coming in from a previous time period. The
categories of child abuse are as follows:
         
                 Sexual abuse                     5,114     20.0%
                 Physical abuse                   8,627     33.7%
                 Severe neglect                   1,679      6.5%
                 General neglect                  4,261     16.7%
                 Emotional abuse                  1,752      6.8%
                 Exploitation                        63       .2%
                 Caretaker absence or incapacity. . . 4,118 16.1%
         
     Disposition of the 25,614 (include actions on cases coming
in from previous time period) cases were as follows:
         
                 Case work completed by emergency
                 response social worker including
                 evaluation, assessment and
                 specified social services. . .  23,760     92.8%
         
         
                 Referred by emergency response
                 social worker for additional
                 services: family maintenance,
                 family reunification, permanency
                 planning, adoption, guardianship 1,854      7.2%
         
         
     Since the implementation of the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention
and Treatment Act, which was designed to correct the problem of
under reporting of child abuse cases, the number of reported
cases continues to rise at an alarming rate.  The Little Hoover
Commission Report, Mending our Broken Children:  Restructuring
Foster Care in California, states:    

     Over 81,000 children are in the foster care system in 
     California.  They are either in foster family homes,
     group  homes, fost-adopt homes, or family agency homes
     at a total  cost to taxpayers of approximately $1.4
     billion a year.          

     When a case of child abuse is reported to the Emergency
     Response unit (the intake unit) a determination is made
     whether the child needs to be removed from the home for safety
     reasons. This is the most critical assessment period in the
     foster care process. In the words of more than one program
     manager, once you are in the system you are in for life."          

     The law mandates that, once it is determined that the safety 
of the child is  predicated upon removal from the home, 
consideration for out-of-home placement  first be given to 
relatives.  The Grand Jury did not always find clear and convincing 
evidence that appropriate efforts were made to find placements with  
relatives. 
         
     If the child is not placed with a relative, the child is taken 
into protective custody.  A petition is filed within 48 hours to 
determine whether the child should become a dependent of the 
court.  A detention hearing is the next order of progression and 
the juvenile court will determine whether the child shall be 
further  detained. A jurisdictional hearing is held to determine 
whether the petition is true.  The next hearing is the 
dispositional hearing which will address removal of the child, 
reasonable reunification efforts, and visitation rights. From this 
point there is a six-month review, twelve-month review, eighteen-
month review, permanency  plan hearing, post-permanency planning 
hearing and, finally, dismissal hearing. Until the post-permanency 
planning hearing, the child is in foster care. The time  period is 
years in some cases. This is an example of the failure to meet the 
intent  of the federal law to prevent "foster-drift." 
         
     While foster care is an integral part of child welfare 
services, there continues to be concern about Santa Clara County's 
foster care system.  Sometimes, foster care placements are made 
that are just as abusive, if not more  so, than the home from which 
the child was removed.  The Grand Jury learned of placements where 
sexual and physical abuse took place. There was even a case  where 
the infant died. 
         
Unnecessary Removal of Children From Homes
         
     In Public Law 96-272 the definition of child welfare services 
was redefined and in essence shifted from the practice of 
separating children from their families to assisting families in 
order to prevent unnecessary removal of children from the home. 
Santa Clara County DFCS now provides a service, the Family 
Maintenance (FM) Program, specifically designed to provide time-
limited protective services to prevent or remedy neglect, abuse or 
exploitation for the purposes of preventing separation of children 
from their families. Services are provided to the child and  family 
while the child remains in the home with caseworker supervision.  
However, the Grand Jury notes that this is merely a pilot program 
at the Agency.  It needs to become a permanent program and expanded 
in order to prevent the costly expense, both monetary and 
psychological, of family breakdown. 

The Grand Jury heard from staff members of the DFCS and others 
outside the department that the department puts too much money 
into "back-end  services," i.e., therapists and attorneys, and not 
enough money into "front-end"  or basic services.  The county does 
not receive as much in federal funds for  "front-end" services, 
which could help solve the problems causing family inadequacies, as 
it receives for out-of-home placements or foster care services.  In 
other words, the Agency benefits, financially, from placing 
children in foster  homes. 
         
Fost-Adopt Program
         
     One of the most controversial programs in the Social Services 
Agency involving child welfare services is the Fost-Adopt Program.  
There is even  controversy as to which children are selected for 
the program. These children are referred to as "marketable 
children," meaning they are young and cute.          

     According to the DFCS, one of the primary goals of fost-adopt 
placement is to provide stability and consistency through 
continuing care in a nurturing family  environment. The department 
goes on to say that the program was designed to minimize the number 
of moves for children prior to adoption and that it takes a  
special kind of person to become a fost-adopt parent because of the 
dual role of  foster parent and prospective adoptive parents. 
         
     The Grand Jury reviewed cases involving fost-adopt and heard 
from professionals inside and outside the department on this issue. 
There are two major concerns: 
         
     1.  The conflict in terms:  Foster care is temporary
     care whereas adoption connotes permanency.          

     2.  Reunification efforts can be adversely affected by
     a fost-adopt parent who wants to adopt the child.
         
     While the department recognizes the unique position of the
fost-adopt parent, it believes the fost-adopt parent is capable of 
handling the dual role. The Grand Jury disagrees. 
         
     There are two possible outcomes to any given fost-adopt case:          

     1.  The child is reunified with the birth parent(s), or
         
     2.  The birth parent(s) lose parental rights and the
     child is ultimately adopted by the fost/adopt parents.
         
     The Fost-Adopt Program makes alternative (1.) more difficult 
since the prospective  adoptive parents cannot help but try to 
influence the child. It can cause failure of reunification efforts 
or, at the very least, make reunification efforts more difficult  
than they might otherwise be. 

     In deciding that a child should be assigned to the Fost-Adopt 
Program, the  case worker makes a judgment call, namely, that 
reunification efforts will fail.  This looks like half a decision 
just waiting for the court's concurrence or nonconcurrence. A 
judgment call has been made before the natural parents have  had a 
chance to prove their fitness, or to show that they are not unfit. 
         
     A case reviewed by the Grand Jury involved a parent who 
worked, against  all odds, to complete satisfactorily her 
reunification plan. Had it not been for the  tenacity of a very 
strong, highly principled and sensitive social worker and her 
supervisor, a child would have been adopted by fost-adopt parents 
even though  the birth parent had met all of the reunification 
goals. The social worker put her  job in jeopardy and refused to be 
intimidated by administrators within the  department, the court-
appointed evaluator, and the district attorney's office. It was 
obvious that DFCS managers and members of a private family agency  
intended to circumvent the positive reunification results and to 
allow the fost-adopt parents to adopt the child. This was only 
one of several instances in which  the integrity of the department 
and adherence to its mission appear to be questionable. 
         
     Another instance involves a case in which the law mandates 
that the  adoptive parents, prior to finalization of the adoption, 
receive a copy of a form  documenting the psychosocial and medical 
history of the child and that the  adoptive parent acknowledge, in 
writing, receipt of the form. The required form was omitted in this 
case. Upon learning of a similar case in another county, where  
this form had not been provided to the adoptive parents, the 
department requested  that a social worker complete the form and 
insert it in the file. The social worker refused and the case was 
taken away from her. The following day the social  worker observed 
that the newly assigned social worker had typed the form and  
inserted it in the file. Rather than face its mistake and take 
corrective action to  prevent reoccurrence, the agency chose this 
questionable and inappropriate  method to protect itself. Actions 
of this nature erode the agency's credibility and  foster the 
belief of some that the agency operates under the cloak of secrecy 
and  is answerable to no one. 
         
Complaint Process
         
     In January 1990, the  Harvey  Rose  Accountancy Corporation, 
commissioned by the Board of Supervisors, completed a report that 
was critical  of the Department of Family and Children's Services 
as lacking comprehensive  written policies, practices and 
procedures for handling complaints and service- related inquiries 
from child welfare recipients.  The report went so far as to  
recommend the creation of a complaint investigation officer 
position in the  Juvenile Division of the Superior Court. The 
report further recommended distributing informational pamphlets to 
all recipients of services in order to provide  them with a better 
understanding of the child welfare system and to promote more 
effective services. 
         
     In August 1992, the Department hired a part-time ombudsman. At 
the time  of the selection a job description had not been 
developed. In the Grand Jury's first meeting with SSA in August 
1992 it was clear that one responsibility of the  ombudsman was to 
implement a procedure for tracking and handling complaints from 
recipients of services.  As of November 25, 1992 the ombudsman had 
discussed five cases with the director of the Agency. As of May 
1993, there is not in place the formalized complaint-handling 
process referenced in the Harvey  Rose audit report. It was learned 
by the Grand Jury that very little, if any, change has taken place 
as the result of the new position. Families receiving services and  
department personnel alike gave the ombudsman low marks for 
accomplishments for the time period on the job. 
         
     In respect to the audit report's recommendation regarding
distribution of information pamphlets to recipients of services, 
the Grand Jury is aware of an informative guide produced by the 
Agency that is easy to read and answers basic questions.  The 
department says it gives the guide to recipients of services; 
however, the Grand Jury could not find one parent who acknowledged 
receiving  the guide. 
         
     The Grand Jury questions the wisdom of hiring an ombudsman
on a part-time basis. Further, in later conversation with 
administrative staff it was learned that it was the intention to 
utilize the ombudsman for the entire Agency, not just the 
Department of Family and Children's Services.  

      The ombudsman was hired by and reports to the very agency 
that he is charged to monitor objectively. The Harvey Rose audit 
report recommended that the ombudsman report directly to the 
Juvenile Division of the Superior Court.  The Grand Jury supports 
this recommendation. 
         
Role of Evaluators
         
     At the time of the 1990 Harvey Rose audit, department policy 
allowed the social worker, who provided child welfare services to 
a dependent child and family, to select an evaluator to conduct 
court-ordered psychological evaluations.  There is continuing 
concern that there is bias in the selection of evaluators. 
         
     Court-ordered psychological evaluations can have a significant 
impact on dependency matters. Evaluators are asked to address such 
issues as:          

     1.  Should the child be declared a dependent of the 
     Juvenile Court?
 
     2.  Would the child be adversely affected by removal
     from the home?

     3.  Are the parents capable of meeting the needs of the
     child?
         
     4.  In cases where the father is accused of sexual
     abuse, can the mother protect the child?
         
     In addressing these and other important issues, evaluators 
have to be qualified, independent and objective in performing 
their work. 

     The Harvey Rose audit pointed to the economic leverage the 
department has over the court-appointed evaluators and to the fact 
that because of the interest of both county counsel and the social 
worker in the juvenile court  proceedings, a potential exists that 
county counsel and the social worker will select evaluators who 
have a history of supporting the position of the department  in 
dependency hearings.  It was the recommendation of the Harvey Rose 
audit  that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors authorize 
funding for 30 hours per week for the position of evaluator-
coordinator within the office of the Superior Court. It was 
further recommended that the Santa Clara County Juvenile Division  
of the Superior Court assume responsibility for selecting all 
court-appointed  evaluators and for mediating differences among 
attorneys regarding the selection of such evaluators. 
         
     The department is to be commended for implementing some of the  
recommendations of the Harvey Rose audit. However, the Grand Jury 
does not  believe the issue of independent and unbiased referrals 
has been resolved.  There still remain, today, allegations of 
evaluators being "black-listed" or slotted as pro- or anti-parent 
or child. Equally important, the Grand Jury questions the wisdom  
of housing the evaluator-coordinator at the SSA which does not give 
the  appearance of independence or impartiality. In discussions 
with the evaluator-coordinator there were many references both to 
the district attorney and the public defender not wanting certain 
evaluators.          

     The Grand Jury heard comments about certain evaluators lacking  
competence; yet they are still on the list. When asked why, the 
jurors were advised that less competent evaluators were used to 
evaluate "less important"  matters.  The Grand Jury sees no valid 
reason for an incompetent evaluator remaining on the list. 
         
     One of the primary responsibilities of an evaluator-
coordinator is to develop and administer a system for follow-up 
and review of evaluations to ensure quality  and consistency of 
services. There is no evidence that this requirement has been  met. 
The evaluator-coordinator acknowledges this fact and attributes it 
to a lack of time. 

Large Numbers of Ethnic "Out-of-Home" Placements 
         
     Statistics show that minority children make up a large 
percentage of "out-of-home" placements. However, few agree on the 
reason for this phenomenon.  Some argue that the reason is poverty 
while others argue that the reason is simply  one of racism and the 
inability of minorities to gain access to a very complicated and 
secretive system. While the reasons are varied, the fact remains 
that there  is a disproportionate number of minority children 
removed from their homes. 
         
     Legislation passed in 1990 (AB 548, Moore) requires:

     With full consideration for the proximity of the
     natural parents to the placement so as to facilitate
     visitation and family reunification, whenever a child
     is being considered for placement in foster care, the 
     following order of placement preference regarding
     racial or ethnic background shall be used, except
     where application of these priorities would not be in
     the best interests of the child:
         
     (A)  . . .In the home of a relative .
         
     (B)  . . .With a foster parent with the same racial
     background or  ethnic identification as the child. . .
         
     (C)  . . .With a family of a different racial
     background or ethnic identification where there is
     evidence of sensitivity to the child's race, ethnicity,
     and culture. The child's religious background shall
     also be considered. . .
         
     Department personnel explained that one reason for over-all 
high out-of-home placements stems from the fact that a larger 
percent of minorities receive medical and other services from 
county agencies which are more apt to report  child abuse. Since 
minority children in many cases do not have private physicians and 
must seek assistance from county medical facilities, they are 
easier to identify and thus account for a greater number of 
reports of child abuse.  

     The Grand Jury was told that the perception among Santa Clara 
County minority groups is that they have the least clout, both 
economically and politically, and thus are more vulnerable, given 
the fact that they often cannot fight back.  Reporting agencies are 
more inclined to report suspected cases of child abuse  when 
minorities are involved.  Once the reports are made, because of  
preconceived ideas about minorities, the reports are believed and 
the process  becomes one of substantiating the belief rather than 
completing an impartial assessment. 
         
     Another reason given is racial bias.  The Grand Jury was told 
of a systematic bias on the part of the very individuals charged 
with protecting the best interests of children. It was explained 
that the bias touched those in the department as well as others 
involved in the dependency process and that the bias  was at times 
on a conscious level but at other times was automatic and 
ingrained. For example, an Hispanic father was told that he and 
"his kind" are known for sexually abusing their children.          

     The department acknowledges that out-of-home-minority 
placement is of great concern to the minority community and is 
beginning to address this issue.  The department has three 
specialized units, Hispanic, Asian and African-American,  to 
heighten the level of cultural sensitivity within the department. 
The department  has also begun to meet with the minority community 
to assist and to seek assistance in meeting the needs of minority 
children. The Grand Jury applauds these recent efforts and 
encourages the department to be more aggressive in this  critical 
area. Regardless of the reason for the disproportionate number of 
minority  out-of-home placements, the future of the children of 
this county depends upon  the efforts of all involved to correct 
the problem expeditiously. 
         
CONCLUSION
         
     Each year, the number of children entering foster care in 
Santa Clara County increases. Child care providers and others 
mandated to report suspected child abuse may report because of fear 
of prosecution rather than a real belief that a child is in real 
danger. Yet, they have little confidence that once the call is made  
the child will be better off. 
         
     As stated in the Little Hoover Commission report:
         
     When government intervenes and takes over the
     responsibility of parenting children, it should be
     held to the same standards as the children's parents.
     That is to say, it is not enough for the state and 
     counties administering the foster care system to be
     responsible only for the immediate safety and
     well-being of the children under their charge;  rather,
     these governmental bodies are accountable for the
     growth and  development of these children into
     productive, well-adjusted adult members of society. It
     does not matter that these victims of abuse and 
     neglect came to the government at a disadvantage; the
     success or  failure of these children's lives are the
     measurements by which the government should be judged. 
     
     Many parents and professionals whom the Grand Jurors 
interviewed believe that the foster care system operates as if it 
is accountable to no one.  The fact that it does not have a 
comprehensive written policy in place for addressing complaints 
and other service-related inquiries from child welfare recipients 
supports this belief.         

     The Grand Jury did not see clear and convincing evidence that 
the foster care system operates with the best interest of the child 
in mind. It did find that  the interest of the child often took a 
back seat to the interest of others.  

     The only answer to this sad commentary is that every effort 
must be made  to assist families in securing the skills necessary 
to keep families intact.  Additional funds must be allocated to 
family maintenance or to what are called  "front-end" services. 
Failure to do less will assure that children and parents will 
continue to be traumatized to a point where it is doubtful that 
they will ever recover.          

     Some of the foregoing deficiencies are the result of the 
inadequacies of  Federal and State laws.  Dishonest and inaccurate 
reporting must be made punitive so that families will not be 
destroyed under the cloak of confidentiality.  If there is but one 
"alleged sexual abuser" who has been wrongfully accused, and  the 
inadequacies of the system and incompetence of assigned staff have  
compounded the problem, then the law must be scrutinized and 
changed. 
         
         
RECOMMENDATIONS
         
     The Grand Jury recommends:
         
     1. Audit
         
     The Grand Jury requests that the DFCS report to the
     Grand Jury the status of its compliance with the
     recommendations of the Harvey Rose report. This reply
     should be by specific recommendation number and  should
     be furnished no later than January 1, 1994.
         
     2. Family Preservation
                   
          A.  Increase allocation of funds for
          front-end services for family preservation
          efforts.
         
          B.  Increase the use of mediation in order to
          assure that the focus is always on the
          interest of the child rather than the
          interest of the participants and in order to
          minimize the adversarial nature of the
          dependency hearing process and the sparring
          of the attorneys.          

     3. Public Complaints
                   
          A.  Make the ombudsman a full-time position,
          responsible to the Juvenile Division of the
          Court.

          B. Establish formal, written-procedures to
          review and respond to complaints consistently
          and in a timely manner.  

     4.  Evaluators
         
     In view of the critical role of the evaluator
         
          A. Increase the evaluator-coordinator from
          part-time to full-time basis and assure the
          independence of the coordinator in order to
          obtain objectivity and impartiality.
         
          B. Allocate a greater portion of the
          evaluator-coordinator's time to reviewing
          evaluation reports and addressing
          deficiencies, one-on-one, with the
          evaluators.  

          C. Assemble a new list of evaluators and
          classify them by level of education,
          experience, and expertise. Aggressively seek
          qualified minority evaluators. Remove
          unqualified evaluators from the list.         
          
     5.  Procedures
         
          A. Make personnel responsible for and hold
          them accountable for providing timely notice
          of hearings to parents and attorneys. The
          same applies to notification of child's and
          parents' counsel of a proposed change in
          placement, condition of child, or change in
          evaluator.
         
          B. Eliminate fost-adopt program or, at least,
          make it departmental policy to restrict
          participants to children whose parent's
          parental rights have been terminated.
 
          C. Give the highest preference for
          out-of-home placements to  responsible
          relatives when it becomes necessary to move a
          child from the home.
         
          D. Take appropriate steps to protect the
          integrity of departmental files.
         
     6.  Cultural Issues
         
          A. Train workers to differentiate between
          class issues and cultural issues, and train
          social workers to be culturally sensitive.    
          
          B. Undertake training of all employees for
          cultural sensitivity.          

     7.  Leadership
         
          A.  Have the Child Abuse and Neglect Center
          assume its role as the primary administrator
          and coordinator of the CA/N System. Work more
          closely with all agencies:  Police
          Department, Juvenile  Probation  Department, 
          health  facilities,  Children's  Shelter, 
          educational facilities. Assure that every
          effort is made to make   accurate, proper and
          timely decisions about the welfare of
          children brought to its attention.
         
          B.  Direct the Social Services Agency to take
          an advocacy role to eliminate the
          shortcomings of State and Federal laws.  



REFERENCES
    
 
      1. Bloom, Barbara and David Steinhart.  Why Punish the
Children?  San Francisco:  National Council on Crime and
Delinquency, 1993. 87 pp.
         
      2. Barthel, Joan. For Children's Sake. New York: Office of
Communications, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1992. 79 pp.
         
      3. California. Commission on California State Government
Organization and Economy.  Mending Our Broken Children:
Restructuring Foster Care in California. Sacramento: Little
Hoover Commission, 1992. 111 pp.
         
      4. Clark, L. Michael (Office of County Counsel). A Brief
Overview of the Juvenile Court Dependency Process.  Prepared for
the Santa Clara County Grand Jury, April 1993.
         
      5. Gardner, Richard A. "Modern Witch Hunt--Child Abuse
Charges," The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 1993.
         
      6. Lange, Linda, Ed. Making Reasonable Efforts: Steps for
Keeping Families Together. Consortium of Agencies: National
Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Child Welfare League
of America; Youth Law Center of San Francisco; National Center
for Youth Law. New York: Office of Communications, Edna McConnell
Clark Foundation, n.d. 1 20 pp.
         
      7. Norman Abigail.  Keeping Families Together:  The Case
for Family Preservation. New York: Edna McConnell Clark
Foundation, 1 985. 41 pp.
         
      8. Rose, Harvey M. Accountancy Corporation, C.P.A. Review
of the County's System of Services for the Protection of Abused
and Neglected Children. Report to the Board of Supervisors of the
County of Santa Clara. San Francisco, January, 1990.
 
      9. Samantrai, Krishna. "To Prevent Unnecessary Separation
of Children and  Families: Public Law 96-272--Policy and
Practice," Social Work, 37 (July, 1992), 295-302.
         
      10. County of Santa Clara. Social Services Agency. "Fact
Sheet," January, 1992.

    PASSED AND ADOPTED by the Grand Jury of Santa Clara County
this fourteenth day of June, 1993. 
 

 

TRAITOR McCain

jewn McCain

ASSASSIN of JFK, Patton, many other Whites

killed 264 MILLION Christians in WWII

killed 64 million Christians in Russia

holocaust denier extraordinaire--denying the Armenian holocaust

millions dead in the Middle East

tens of millions of dead Christians

LOST $1.2 TRILLION in Pentagon
spearheaded torture & sodomy of all non-jews
millions dead in Iraq

42 dead, mass murderer Goldman LOVED by jews

serial killer of 13 Christians

the REAL terrorists--not a single one is an Arab

serial killers are all jews

framed Christians for anti-semitism, got caught
left 350 firemen behind to die in WTC

legally insane debarred lawyer CENSORED free speech

mother of all fnazis, certified mentally ill

10,000 Whites DEAD from one jew LIE

moser HATED by jews: he followed the law

f.ck Jesus--from a "news" person!!

1000 fold the child of perdition

 

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