Feb. 21, 2012 — Last month, Lassen County’s Board of Supervisors approved changes to its Child Protective Services (CPS) Department and created the Child and Family Services Department (CFS) under the leadership of Maria Carlomagno-Brice.
As part of that change, Carlomagno-Brice was asked to give a monthly report to the board. She delivered her first report last week, and it contained a positive message.
Carlomagno-Brice said a recent state investigation into Lassen County’s CPS — spurred on by citizen complaints — has not yet been released, so she can’t comment on that review.
But she said the recent reorganization and the newly created CFS department is well on its way to helping protect the children who need the county’s assistance as they make their way through court proceedings and family troubles.
According to Carlomagno-Brice, the agency believes “all children need a family,” and the agency’s workers have committed themselves to child safety, child permanency and family well-being.
The team — two clerical members, seven social workers, two supervising social workers and one part-time attorney — has 118 years of combined social work experience.
Planned changes in personnel include recruitment of two additional social workers and the transfer of a social worker from another county agency. The goal is workforce stabilization and retention.
In addition, the agency is working closely with Lassen County Superior Court Judge Michele Verderosa and Lassen Family Services’ Court Appointment Special Advocate (CASA) Program, the Lassen Community Kinship Program and the Mountain Circle Family Services Foster Care Agency.
Additional relationships will be sought with local law enforcement agencies, the Lassen County Probation Department, Banner Lassen Medical Center, community and faith-based organizations and local family law attorneys.
Carlomagno-Brice also said the new department will continue to work with the Lassen County Health and Human Services Agency, the Health Department, Alcohol and Drug, Public Health and Community Social Services departments.
The new county agency consists of two units — the Emergency Response Unit (ER) and the On-going (court) Unit.
Last month, the ER unit received 47 referrals, and only one child was removed from the home.
The agency managed 86 ongoing cases, including 25 family reunifications, 21 court-ordered family maintenance cases, nine voluntary family maintenance cases and 31 permanency placement cases.
Carlomagno-Brice reported a 100 percent compliance rate for social worker child visits.
These kinds of services are vital to children in the county who find themselves in difficult situations often through no fault of their own.
The county’s efforts to correct the problems at CPS and create a new agency to address these issues should be applauded.
While the county awaits the results of the state investigation, now is not the time to play the blame game.
Instead we should focus on moving forward to fix what may be a broken system and ensure professional advocates fight for the childrens’ interests as their cases move through the court.
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