FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Fresno social workers, county employees, and community members continue to call for action locally after photos showed children sleeping on the floor at Child Protective Service offices.
Nearly a dozen people shared their concerns with the County Board of Supervisors during the board’s Tuesday meeting. Workers asked the officials to take responsibility and claimed there is low morale of staff due to unfair working conditions.
“Having worked for 22 years, 6 different states and two countries,” said County Employee Heather Evans. “You by far are the most inept, greedy, and ungrateful employer I have ever come across.”
“When we can’t keep people in the office because of pay, because of management, because of being treated like trash,” said Department of Social Services employee Ron. “It is a problem.”
“I think it is a shame that Fresno County is in the news for the children that are sleeping on the floors,” said Social Worker Yolanda Reyes.
“The accommodations that they have for children are atrocious,” said Fresno Resident Monica Harrison Snowden. “They have been atrocious.”
Social workers and parents claim that children have been sleeping on the floor for years, but County Chief Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau said he wasn’t made aware of the situation until last week.
Once he found out, he said he went against state law and opened up a temporary shelter near the fairgrounds. A county spokesperson said since it opened on Saturday, an average of two children have stayed there per night.
During the meeting, workers went through a laundry list of problems they say exist in the Social Services Department including training and low wages.
A County spokesperson said in the last ten years, social workers’ pay has increased six percent. The starting base pay for a social worker in Fresno County is $19 an hour.
They said a lack of training is a major problem and by the time that training is complete, many disgruntled workers move on.
The county is in current labor negotiations with SEIU, which represents social workers. Chair Supervisor Steve Brandau said he hears concerns about pay but said the children must come first.
“I am personally not gonna sleep until this situation with the children has been 100% dealt with,” said Brandau.
Right now, the children do not have showers at the current shelter near the fairgrounds but the county is working on getting mobile showers to that location. A new CPS office is set to open next month in Clovis and will have many more accommodations including showers and a kitchen.