An extensive review of Riverside County’s protective-services operations is under way to ensure best practices are in place to meet the county’s critical mission to protect at-risk children and adults. The review also will provide vital information and recommendations to help strengthen county protective services.
Already in its initial stages, the review will examine policies, procedures and practices within the county’s Adult and Children’s Protective Services divisions. The county is in discussions to engage a law firm with extensive experience in representing social-services agencies. Working along with county staff, the firm would bring its social-services background to the review and provide perspective and analysis.
“Nothing we do is more important,” said County Executive Officer George Johnson. “The county has worked hard to reduce attrition and add social workers in the last two years. Those measures support efforts by our social workers to protect thousands of children and adults every year.”
The attrition rate for CPS social workers has been reduced by more than half, from 20 percent in 2016 to 9.2 percent today. And the number of social workers who carry caseloads has increased by 16 percent since 2016. The Child Protective Services hotline received 40,000 calls in 2017 alleging children were being mistreated. Social workers investigated 34,200 and substantiated allegations in almost 5,000 cases.
The Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) also provides medical services for the indigent, emergency food and shelter, child-care assistance, consumer-fraud advocacy, adoption services, and assistance for homeless residents among its other programs.
The review within DPSS will run concurrently with efforts to recruit a new director for the agency. Because comprehensive knowledge of California laws regarding DPPS responsibilities is required, the broad recruitment will focus on candidates with extensive experience dealing with state social-services regulations. No specific time frame has been set for selecting a new agency director, which is expected to take at least several months, or for completing the review.
Client confidentiality and privacy issues will not allow the county to release full results of the review. But in a commitment to transparency, the county expects to release a public version that does not disclose privileged information.