California parents are complaining that lawmakers have been unresponsive to complaints about the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS) system.
Tara Smith, a parent in Siskiyou County, traveled to Sacramento in March 2019 with fellow concerned parent Jessica Ingels to speak with lawmakers. Smith is the former foster mother of a 4-year-old girl who she says is being raped by a member of a Mexican street gang who has been arrested multiple times and who has custody of the child.
Smith, the adoptive mother of the girl’s brother, said a friend of the gang told her the man was raping the child in the bathtub. Smith said the man admitted that he was showering with the girl, that she saw irritation in the girl’s vagina, and that the girl is terrified of being in the bathtub. She told Smith that the man did things to her every night, and she didn’t like it.
The Epoch Times was unable to reach the man for comment.
“All these red flags were happening, and we would report it to CPS and they would just report it back to him (the gang member),” Smith said. “We reported it to CPS six or seven different times” and “they gave me excuses back.” Smith hasn’t seen the girl in months, as the man has cut off contact.
Fed up with CPS’s inaction, Smith went to politicians for help.
“We had 27 different meetings,” Smith told The Epoch Times, confirming that she spoke with 27 different lawmakers or their staff about the alleged child sexual abuse and other CPS issues, and gave them pamphlets about the matter. “Every single one of them said this is a terrible situation and we will try to get you help. Nobody followed up with us.”
Smith and Ingels met with a staffer for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at Harris’s district office in Sacramento.
“She just listened to everything we were saying and wrote all of it down. She wrote down all of our contact information,” Smith said, but there was no follow-up. Harris’s presidential campaign didn’t return a request by The Epoch Times for comment, and officials at her Sacramento and Washington offices couldn’t be reached by press time.
As for state legislators, Smith said, “They seemed sympathetic to the issue, but no callback, no nothing.” Smith said follow-up emails and phone calls to lawmakers haven’t been returned.
The Epoch Times reached out to the contemporaneous email address for the point of contact for each of Smith’s 27 meetings, to inquire about why lawmakers never followed up, and received only one response, which was to forward the inquiry to a communications staffer, who didn’t reply further.
At the meetings with lawmakers, Ingels also presented concerns about her daughter. Her daughter is in the custody of an ex-husband, whom Ingels said is a “sexual deviant,” with restraining orders against him from women who have accused him of “sexual abuse.”
“We have contacted the California attorney general’s office and the DOJ, and all we keep getting back are letters saying, ‘No, we don’t do that,’” Ingels said, referring to her pleas for help with her case.
The Epoch Times was unable to contact Ingels’s ex-husband for comment.
Katherine Lester, a grandmother who lost her granddaughter to a closed adoption after a prolonged CPS battle, said that she consistently writes to Sens. Harris and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) with no response.
“I took in six families for a meeting with [U.S. Representative] Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif). He said he would get back to me. He never has, but he’s doing work on behalf of illegal immigrant families,” Lester said. Panetta’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
“What is proven is that when these children get adopted, then CPS is completely out of the picture. They never go back and check with the family they placed them with to make sure they’re okay. What we’re finding is some of those children end up running away, and they don’t put out an Amber Alert. They’re just labeled runaways,” Lester told The Epoch Times.
Adam Weintraub, an official with the California Department of Social Services, confirmed to The Epoch Times in an email that the department “receives reports from California counties via the statewide child welfare data system. There is no separate category for ‘missing’ children—all children who leave the system without explanation are grouped together under the category of ‘runaway.’ (Running away is the most common reason for leaving the foster care system without explanation, and many of these children eventually return to a foster home, a parent, or a relative.)”
The U.S. State Department’s 2019 human trafficking report confirmed that “recent reports have consistently indicated that a large number of victims of child sex trafficking were at one time in the foster care system.”
The Epoch Times has reported on allegations of child prostitution and child sex abuse in California’s Contra Costa County CPS system.
In that county, a father and son duo face charges for allegedly molesting their foster children. A teen boy said that he witnessed oral sex between an African American minor boy and two grown men in a group home, which he believed was the result of a financial transaction. A woman said that her great-granddaughter was placed in the home of a foster parent who later committed “suicide by police” after a 12-hour standoff as he faced a child molestation arrest.
The great-grandmother said CPS investigated the possible videotaped sex assault of her great-granddaughter in that home prior to the violent confrontation, but video evidence of the alleged abuse officially went missing.
On Oct. 4, parents from around California and the nation plan to protest at the state capitol in Sacramento to demand reform of the CPS system. Organizers expect thousands of parents and also pro-CPS counter-protesters to attend.