Under funded and under staffed with clients “falling through the cracks” is how the Del Norte County Grand Jury described what is going on at the Department of Health and Human Services. It told of a staff that is exhausted with more than the normal number of cases being handled by each employee. It detailed the pay scale which is far below other counties of similar size. The general consensus was that the department was operating at a very low level of effectiveness, and that it has been that way for a very long time.
As far back as 2007, the department was under fire and was sued for $7 million in damages that the agency violated the Federal Privacy Act with overly intrusive background checks.
We wonder why this situation has been allowed to fester for so long? It’s not that this situation just happened yesterday. Action to remedy the persistent problems should have been ongoing, yet nothing has been done for a very long time. Did Former Executive Director, Gary Blatnick, have anything to do with that? Isn’t it time to shine a spotlight on the outrageous numbers of abused and neglected children in this County? Then, where is a CITIZENS OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE?
Supervisor Finigan, in an interview with the Triplicate gave some of the old trite answers he gives to every problem, “We need to work with partners.” further stating “I think we’ll need to drill down a little more… we’ve got to get it right for our people, they depend on it.” Or this, “We need to find out what is working at DHHS and try to build on that.” It’s called, “HOT AIR.”
I could understand those answers coming from a brand new County Supervisor, but this is David Finigan who has been in office for 20 years. He sounds like he just doesn’t get it. With two decades on the board, we would expect that he should be intimately involved with what goes on with each of the departments in the county. But, he was not. He can’t be bothered. It doesn’t appear to be important to him.
Contrast his answers with those of Supervisor Gitlin. He stated that in order to solve the inequities of funding, we need to get the state of California involved, further stating that for social workers, the pay needs to be on a par with other counties our size. He even responded to a specific finding of the grand jury.
That contrast is striking with Finigan giving the same old “hot air” while Gitlin offers a real understanding of the problem and offers solutions. Gitlin gets it. Finigan doesn’t.
I think it’s time for Finigan to go. His advertisements tell of accomplishments with children. In reality, the children in our community are poorly educated based on test scores. And, now with this latest Grand Jury report, are not adequately served by the agencies paid to protect them when abuse and neglect take place; either in their home or in their foster homes.
We need to increase our expectations of our County Supervisors.
We need to demand that positive action take place.
To accomplish that, we need to vote out these career, do-nothing, politicians.