FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Disturbing photos from inside a Fresno County Child Protection Services office are raising questions about how children awaiting housing placements are being cared for.
Fresno County’s Child Protection Services offices are typically a quick stop for children as they wait to be placed in their new home or facility.
The labor union representing county social workers shared photos, showing children sleeping on the ground, curled up on tables, and an office in disarray.
The union calls the conditions unsafe and unsanitary for staff and the youth.
Social worker Lorriane Ramirez said, in part, “We have no choice but to bring this to the public because we are the only advocates around for these children and they don’t deserve any further trauma than they’re already facing.”
“My first reaction was you’ve got to be kidding me! Something is really wrong here!” explained Assemblyman Jim Patterson.
Patterson says he was made aware of the problem last week and points to several factors, both regulatory and legislative, which he says significantly reduced placement options for youth with complex needs.
“Here we have a real mix up with the bureaucracy and legislation and who is suffering? These kids are the most fragile,” Patterson said.
Patterson sent a letter to state officials calling on them to work with Fresno County to address the issue.
Fresno County has also asked the state for help as well. A county spokesperson says other California counties are facing similar challenges as a result of law changes, and they haven’t received the needed additional funding.
Next spring, the county’s child welfare division will be moving to a new facility with more amenities, such as showers and a kitchen.
Until then, local and state leaders are committing to finding solutions so no more kids fall through the cracks
“We have wound up this problem for the kids and we can unwind this problem and I think we should do it right away and I’m going to stay on this until we get a solution,” said Patterson.