Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lawsuit against Clark County and the state of Nevada

"Clark County's child welfare system is in crisis. Virtually every aspect of the county's child protective services and foster care system is failing the children and youth it is charged with protecting."

Above is a direct quote from civil rights class action lawsuit brought by ten children on behalf of all abused and neglected children who either live in or risk entering the Clark County foster care system.

As of the date of this lawsuit, over 3600 children are in the legal custody of Clark County. These children currently reside in foster homes, group homes, kinship care placements (both licensed and unlicensed), shelters and institutions.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to compel Nevada and Clark County officials to meet their legal duties under federal and state law.

This lawsuit alleges that:

1.) Child Haven is unlicensed. There are no mental health services available. Due to to overcrowding, some children are sleeping on the gymnasium floor. Conditions have contributed to infectious disease.

2.) Social workers receive inadequate training and supervision. Many social workers' caseloads exceed those established by national standards. Child abuse reports filed by these social workers repeatedly fail to comply with state law and professional standards.

3.) Needs of youth are mismatched with foster parents' experiences and ability. Placements have been based solely on whether or not a "bed" was available. Because of this, placements often break down, and children experience frequent moves (foster homes, group homes, institutions).

4.) Poor communication with foster parents: Clark County DFS fails to provide foster parents with basic background information and supportive services needed by children that are placed in their home. Foster parents who advocate for the child in their home by requesting dental/medical/mental health services, have been retaliated against by Clark County DFS.

5.) Failure to monitor foster placements: Caseworkers fail to visit children in their foster placements, and therefore are not monitoring children's safety, risk factors, quality of care or access to services.

6.) Allowing children to remain in dangerous homes: Clark County DFS reportedly turns a deaf ear to complaints of abuse and neglect in foster homes.

Clark County DFS is responsible to screen, license, support and supervise foster homes. They are failing at this task. Because of this, foster parents are out there who should never have been licensed in the first place, or whose licenses should have been revoked.

7.) No voice for foster children in court: Clark County ignores the state and federal mandate to provide foster youth with a voice (CASA / guardian ad litem) during court proceedings.

Defendents in this lawsuit:
- Kenny C. Guinn, the Governor of Nevada
- Michael Willden, Director of Nevada DHHS
- Fernando Serrana, Administrator of State DCFS
- Paula A. Hawkins, Bureau Chief, Bureau of Services for Child Care
- The seven members of Clark County's Board of Commissioners
- Clark County (is accountable legally because its population is over 10,000)
- Virginia Valentine, Clark County Manager
- Clark County DFS
- Tom Morton, the Director of Clark County DFS
- Louis Palma, Manager of Shelter Care (oversight of all shelter facilities in Clark County)

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Sounds like a mess. Sleeping on a gym floor? Ouch. Why doesn't someone donate beds or at least air mattresses? Are they in sleeping bags or just on the floor, floor?
One thing I noticed about social workers through the years is that they like to appear like experts. They overgeneralize like CRAZY, taking their conclusions about people from a sociology textbook instead of actually getting to know varieties of people, having no regard for the millions of exceptions that come with their overgeneralizations. Most of them seem to be on this expertiese pedestal, pointing down and diagnosing all these wierd unheard of disorders everytime someone's life is going through a less than perfect phase.
Kind of funny how with all their experties that they try to pass off... people still constantly moan and groan about how they are failing kids. Everyone complains about how CPS and the social worker's whole system fails kids. Just kind of seems like wierd that they still just seem to ignore it and act like the experts on analyzing kids, adults... I wonder if the two have anything to do with each other...
Most social workers become far to accustomed to dictating the course of everyone’s life. Telling parents all their faults and then taking their children away, then dictating every move the child in custody makes. When confronted with a rational or intelligent person they become defensive to the intrusion on their little fiefdoms.
Believe me, it isn't just parents that they dictate to.
Clark County also lets parents choose kinship foster homes that don't have to go through the same licensing procedures as regular foster homes. For example, if I go to jail for drugs and my kids get taken, I can choose my kids foster home to be my drug dealers as long as he doesn't have any convictions for child abuse. Then when I get out of jail, I just go visit my kids whenever I want while I wait to get custody back. It's ridiculous.
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