Child welfare needs assessed
Glenn County’s child welfare services to children and teens could improve if it had more bilingual staff, coordinated more programs with area schools and more substance abuse services available.
These are some of the conclusions contained in a 62-page Child Welfare Self-Assessment Report presented to Glenn County Supervisors on Tuesday.
Human Resource Agency Director Scott Gruendl said this report was the second step in a three-step process which looks at how well the county provides assistance to children and teens in the county’s foster care system among other services.
He said the first step called for Colusa and Tehama County officials to look at Glenn County’s child welfare cases and determine how many of them were returned to the system and so on.
The extensive report is a “snap shot in time,” Gruendl said, of what has been working and what has not been going well during the last five years.
This report also is required of all California counties to evaluate what is successful, where improvements are needed and which areas to focus on in the future, he said.
It includes demographics such as Glenn County has a population of 28,122 based on the 2010 U.S. Census, and that more than 7,800 of the population is estimated to be under 18 years old for about 28 percent.
The report says the Human Resource Agency and Glenn County Probation Department are responsible for providing services to young people in coordination with the Superior Court as necessary.
Glenn County has 7 licensed foster family homes as of March with 10 more having licenses pending, the report said.
One is in Hamilton City and the rest are in Orland. There are no licensed foster families in Willows at the moment, officials said.
Items needing improvement include funding to support pre-placement preventive services, the report said.
County schools also lack resources and staff to provide prevention services before a family incident becomes a referral to the Child Welfare System, Gruendl said.
School-based programs might offer family counseling, enrichment programs and individualized mental health services, the report said, in an environment that is less threatening to many families - thus preventing a need for child welfare intervention in some cases.
Gruendl added the county supports reunification of children with their families as much as possible, but it also must plan for adoption or long-term foster care in case reunifying a family is not possible.
Bilingual staff is needed as well for languages like Hmong, so since delays in services sometimes are made while a translator is found.
Drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programs have suffered funding losses in recent years, Gruendl said, which results in fewer services particularly to youth.
Domestic violence is a “big issue” in Glenn County, and even with the recent opening of a new shelter by a nonprofit, services are limited, he said.
Some children from low-income homes are at risk for domestic violence and may enter the child welfare system as a result, and it is an area that needs to be addressed.
High risk groups for coming into the system include homeless children and children with mental health issues, special needs children and teens.