FRESNO, Calif. – A new California state audit found that over 1,000 sex offenders are living in homes licensed to provide foster and child care services.
The startling information was uncovered after the audit was requested to investigate how Child Welfare Services handled child deaths in foster care homes.
The report found that California Department of Social Services failed to check the sex offender registry after recommendations and warnings from the state auditor three years ago.
“Both Social Services and county [Child Welfare Services] need to better ensure that these placements are safe,” the report said.
National Center for Youth Law senior attorney Bill Grimm thinks the failure of Child Welfare Services to use databases of sex offenders that the agency had access to is “reprehensible and inexcusable."
“How can you take a child out of their own home, their parents home, because you alleged they are unsafe or have been abused and then put them in a facility or a home where they are subject to risk and further abuse? It’s just inexcusable,” Grimm said.
Furthermore, the report states that the sex offender registry should be used more efficiently to make sure “sex offenders are not living or working among children in the CWS system.”
Earlier this year, Assemblyman Henry Perea of Fresno requested the state investigate child deaths that are in Child Protective Service custody. The request was made after 10-year-old Seth Ireland was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend in 2008.
“If a sex offender is found living in a facility where children are cared for today, their only punishment is being told to pack their bags and leave. We need to take a long hard look at tightening the law here so our children are safe from predators,” Perea said.
The report found 48 sex offender addresses in Fresno County that matched licensed foster care homes.
Currently there is no state law that prevents a sex offender from living at homes where child care services are provided. A sex offender can visit friends and family members who have foster care facilities and stay up to a month without being required to submit a criminal record.
The 95-page report states that social services have already taken legal action against eight licensees and issued 36 immediate exclusion orders in the state.