**Shocking Neglect of Foster Children in California: Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against San Bernardino County**
San Bernardino County faces a class action lawsuit due to gross mistreatment of children in their foster care system. This comes after a recent $7.8 million settlement for a foster child sexual abuse case. Allegations include insufficient screening of foster parents and lack of proper monitoring, overworked caseworkers, inadequate planning, and a failure to protect the children from harm.
Within the 68-page lawsuit, the California Department of Social Services and its Director Kim Johnson, Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Bernardino County, the county Board of Supervisors, Department of Children and Family Services (CFS), and CFS Director Jeany Zepeda stand accused of neglecting the needs of vulnerable foster children. Children and Family Services is accused of not screening potential foster parents thoroughly, nor monitoring the children sufficiently once placed in their care.
Caseworkers’ overwhelming workload is also highlighted as a major issue, leading to poor planning and inability to address short-term emergency housing, healthcare, and protection for mistreated children. According to the suit, manageable caseloads can only exist when there is adequate financial support, planning, and active recruitment, training, and retention of caseworkers.
Marcia Robinson Lowry, director of A Better Childhood, a national nonprofit that brought the lawsuit, stated that this neglectful system leaves children suffering greatly due to a lack of state and county intervention. San Bernardino County spokesperson Martha Guzman-Hertado said they are still reviewing the complaint and had no immediate response, while the California Department of Social Services declined to comment on ongoing litigation.
A San Bernardino County grand jury reported in December that the department was “too broken to fix,” recommending it be dismantled and replaced to keep foster children safe. The lawsuit requests direct supervision and the following of professional standards for caseworkers as well as the recruitment and retention of enough qualified employees to ensure appropriate supervision. They also ask for a written plan for family reunification, adoption, or placement into a permanent family-like setting for all children in CFS care.
Other requirements include plans for children with special treatment, services or safety concerns, adequate short-term emergency housing, suitable screening of foster home candidates, and monthly in-home visits with separate interviews for foster children and their foster parents.
**Systemic Change Overdue for California’s Broken Foster Care System**
This lawsuit emphasizes the desperate need for change and reform in California’s failing foster care system, which cruelly neglects the welfare and protection of the children it is supposed to help. San Bernardino County and others must urgently address this systemic crisis to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every foster child in their care.