Three Days After Social Services Director’s Resignation, Riverside Announces Investigation
Riverside County Executive Officer George Johnson has announced an investigation of the Department of Adult and Child Protective Services to determine what, if any, changes are needed to improve outcomes for the county’s at-risk residents. The announcement was made Thursday, Sept. 20, just three days after the abrupt resignation of Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) Director Susan von Zabern.
“As the county begins searching for a new director, it is an opportune time to conduct this kind of review. It also is important to assure the community about the county’s commitment to protecting vulnerable children and adults,” said county spokesman Ray Smith.
It’s still unclear what motivated von Zabern’s departure. But, as County News noted, Child Protective Services -- a division of DPSS -- has been under intense scrutiny. It is facing two lawsuits in which social workers are accused of failing to protect children in abusive or neglectful homes. In 2010, it was the subject of a scathing audit and in 2015, a licensed foster care worker was arrested for child molestation.
The internal review is already underway. Pending action by the Board of Supervisors, an outside law firm is expected to take over the process. Meanwhile, county officials are hoping to find a replacement for von Zabern by year’s end.