FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – After disturbing photos of children sleeping in Fresno Child Protection Services offices circulated, the county’s top official said the county will break the law to come up with a solution.
The photos were taken inside of the CPS L Street office which shows children sleeping on the floor and on conference tables with nothing but a yoga mat under them and nowhere to bathe.
“Could you imagine if this was your nephew, your niece, your grandchild or your child,” said Fresno Social Worker Lorraine Ramirez. “We tell the kids, ‘it is safe, you are coming with us.’ We are strangers, they don’t know any different. Then they sit in this office for hours, sometimes days and for our dependant children they are here for weeks.”
Fresno County Chief Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau said he was not made aware of these conditions until he toured the facility yesterday.
“I should have known but I did not know,” said Rousseau. “That is unacceptable.”
Rousseau said changes in state law, lack of staffing and the pandemic led to the issue.
He promised a new child welfare building in Clovis that will have more amenities including a shower and kitchen. It will not be finished until next month.
Until then, the county will turn ten vacant county offices near the fairgrounds into rooms for children, which Rousseau said do not have showers. Rousseau said because the county does not have a permit, it is against the law.
The county has bought air mattresses, cots and toiletries for the children.
“We are going to do whatever we have to do to properly take care of these kids,” said Rousseau. “And if it is an unlicensed facility, if it ‘breaks the law’, so be it. The state in part has put us in this position and we are going to do the right thing going forward.”
The facility near the fairgrounds won’t be ready until Saturday and officials said the children will continue to stay in the offices until it is ready. Social workers said while the new facility will help unless there is more staffing, training and funding the problem will continue.