Final County Budget Includes Big Cut to CPS

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sacramento County’s embattled Child Protective Services division could lose up to a quarter of its budget Tuesday afternoon. That’s when the Board of Supervisors takes up the county’s final spending plan for the next 10 months. CPS has been trying to turn itself around after months of embarrassment.
Last spring, two independent reports blasted CPS for incompetence and failing to prevent avoidable children’s deaths.  One of the reports, from the Sacramento County Grand Jury, was entitled “Nothing Ever Changes – Ever.” Don Prange chaired the grand jury. He says CPS has improved quite a bit over the last few months under new director Laura Coulthard.
Prange: “She’s done a lot of work that the grand jury had asked her to do and implemented a lot of the programs we rec’d they do install, such as the 24-hour monitoring of emergency calls coming in, recording of the calls that come in, and follow-up is a lot better than it was prior to that.”
But the current budget proposal calls for a nearly $20 million cut to CPS – which translates to the laying off of 200 employees. Prange says that would stall the progress – and even push the department back.
Prange: “I’m afraid we’re gonna wind up having more abuse that they’re not going to be able to catch.”
CPS officials say the cuts will lead to longer response times for cases involving child abuse or neglect, and more cases to oversee for each social worker. Also, any borderline calls that don’t meet the exact definition of abuse or neglect will go without a response.