Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly said Tuesday that he would abolish the state's Child Protective Services system and start over "from the ground up," saying social workers often remove children from their homes without sufficient reason.
"If I were in charge of the entire state, I can tell you right now I would abolish CPS," he said at a news conference at the Capitol, "because CPS has become the greatest threat to the very kids it was designed to protect."
Donnelly, a state assemblyman from Twin Peaks, called the news conference to promote legislation that would require social workers to conduct video or audio recordings of their interactions with children and parents when investigating child abuse. He said recordings would protect both families and social workers in disputes.
Assembly Bill 1828 is opposed by the California Welfare Directors Association, which said that "time is of the essence" in child abuse investigations and that "it is imperative that our CPS social workers be able to conduct interviews with children and their parents with unfettered access," according to a letter included in a legislative analysis.
Donnelly's remarks came on the same day the state auditor released a report criticizing the child welfare services agencies of Butte, Orange and San Francisco counties. In her report, state Auditor Elaine Howle said the agencies' social workers frequently failed to prepare standard safety and risk assessment s in a timely manner and that they often included inaccurate information. The audit also faulted the agencies for inconsistent follow-up on cases.
Donnelly said the CPS system meddles too often in cases where intervention isn't warranted, while devoting too little time to serious matters.
"They are literally becoming the dust bunny and dirty dish police," he said.
PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly visits the Outdoor Sportsman store in Stockton on Feb. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders