County scores well in care of abused children
A national legal youth advocate group gave Nevada County the state’s third highest ranking in a report evaluating the performance of child protective services throughout California.
“It’s outstanding,” said Alison Lehman, director of the Department of Social Services in Nevada County. “We’re very excited. I give credit to staff dedicated to keeping children safe and the community partnerships we’ve formed.”
The National Center for Youth Law rated all 58 California counties based on how well counties ensure the safety and stability of child victims of abuse and neglect, using both state and federal performance data supplied by the California Department of Social Services.
The report found that every one of California’s 58 counties has failed at least two of six federal standards for ensuring the safety of children who have suffered abuse or neglect. However, Nevada County came away from the report in third place, behind Amador and Monterey counties.
The NCYL determined the rankings based on each county’s overall performance on the recurrence of abuse or neglect, incidence of abuse or neglect in foster care, number of times a child is moved while in foster care and length of time until reunification or adoption.
Lehman said Nevada County scored very well on child abuse and neglect intervention, while the department wants to improve upon its preventative measures.
“Because we ranked third, it doesn’t mean that’s status quo,” Lehman said. “We’re always looking to enhance our services.”
Maintaining relationships with other local child advocacy groups such as the Child Abuse Prevention Council and three family resource centers in Grass Valley, North San Juan and Truckee will help to foster better care of children still living with their families, she said.
Lehman said $38,000 granted Wednesday by First 5 Nevada County will also help to fund the department’s Family Preservation Team, which consists of a social worker and public health nurse who provide preventative measures such as parenting classes for volunteering families.
The NCYL’s analysis found that in the state of California:
• 11,000 children are abused or neglected again within one year, and more than 450 children suffer abuse or neglect in foster care.
• Only 14 of the 58 counties met or exceeded the federal standard for placement stability, with more than 5,000 children being shuttled through three or more placements during their first year in care.
• Nearly 4,000 children placed in foster care had been in care at least once before. More than one-third of the children re-entering care were age 5 or younger.
The report makes recommendations to improve outcomes for abused and neglected children, including statewide coordination of child welfare and foster care programs.
To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion .com or call 477-4236.
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