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The Superior Court of Humboldt County has accepted a stipulated judgment cooperatively negotiated by the California Attorney General (AG), the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). The stipulation, dated Feb. 14, marks the conclusion of an investigation by the AG into specific policies and practices related to DHHS’s Child Welfare Services Division (CWS).
The inquiry was launched in 2015 after concerns were raised by local tribes and other community partners regarding inefficiencies and barriers to service in the CWS Emergency Response function, primarily dealing with screening practices and cross-reporting between agencies.
The requirements set forth in the judgment reflect collaborative efforts on the part of the AG, the HCSO and DHHS to improve outcomes for children and families in the county’s child welfare system of care.
Details of the agreement include:
In papers filed with the court, the AG’s office stated that DHHS and HCSO worked cooperatively to reach this agreement and have “affirmed their commitment to make meaningful changes to how child abuse and neglect reports are handled in Humboldt County.”
DHHS Director Connie Beck said the settlement agreement formalizes efforts that have been under way for years to modernize various systems within CWS. “Staff inherited an inefficient paper-and-pencil system that they’ve had to work with for many years. I’m grateful for their commitment to systems improvement and, ultimately, to the children and families we serve.” Beck added that staff will continue their work to prioritize tribal values and input across all of the department’s systems of care.
“Protecting the children of this county is the highest priority for the Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff William Honsal. “I am thankful that through this process our communication and teamwork with CWS has grown strong. Our new communications system and joint response protocol will ensure that mandated reports of child abuse and neglect are quickly investigated and that children are protected.”