US Kids in California county care sleeping on floor in building
With windfall, city tries to reach kids trapped in violence
ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — The teenagers were arrested so many times that Deputy Chief Kurt Whisenand knew them by name. Accused of shootings, carjackings and armed robberies, they had become some of the most violent young offenders in Rockford, Illinois — a city with no shortage of them. But it was a report from a few years earlier that gave Whisenand the most pause. Police believed most of the five — then 13 or 14 years old — had been sexually abused by the same man whom one of the boys had met on social media. The man bought them presents, got them alone and abused them. He eventually was caught and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A central California county executive has pledged immediate changes after a news report revealed that vulnerable children removed from their families were living in deplorable conditions inside an office building — sleeping on conference tables, eating fast food and urinating into water bottles until social workers could find homes for them.
Fresno County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau apologized Thursday to the children forced to stay at the office building that is the main hub for Fresno County’s Child Protective Services and to the workers who oversee them,. The news organization first reported about .
The Latest: Russia hits another record daily death toll
MOSCOW — Russia has reached another record daily death toll from COVID-19, with 968 deaths registered on Saturday. The national coronavirus task force has reported a persistent rise, with nearly daily records in October. It’s about 100 more daily deaths than in late September. The task force also reported more than 29,000 new daily infections. Authorities says the steep rise in cases and deaths is because of the nation’s low vaccination rate. The deputy prime minister says 47.8 million Russians, or 33% of the population, have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
“When I saw the conditions in the office, when I saw the mats being used as beds, I said, ‘This is unacceptable.’ I should have known earlier, and we’re going to rectify it immediately,” Rousseau said, expressing frustration that he was not informed about the situation sooner.
Social workers told The Bee that the county's child welfare system is understaffed and overwhelmed and there's a lack of housing for children who have been removed from their homes for their own safety. As a result, some children stay at the offices of Child Protective Services until foster homes can be found for them.
The Fresno Bee described children sleeping on conference tables or on yoga mats on the floor in rooms with lights that do not turn off. They share a single bathroom, cannot shower and use water bottles to relieve themselves, the news outlet reported.
California coronavirus death count tops 70,000 as cases fall
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's coronavirus death toll reached another once-unfathomable milestone — 70,000 people — on Monday as the state emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases among all states. Last year at this time, cases in the state started ticking up and by January California was in the throes of the worst spike of the pandemic and was the nation’s epicenter for the virus. Daily deaths approached 700. The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant that primarily targeted the unvaccinated. At its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low 100s.
Lorraine Ramirez, a veteran social worker with Fresno County Department of Social Services’ child welfare agency, told The Bee that children stay in the building for a few hours to several weeks. Some days, there are no children in the building and on other days there can be a dozen, she said. They vary in age and in their medical needs.
“The conditions that the kids are staying in is not tolerable, it’s inhumane,” Ramirez said.
Rousseau said he toured the office Wednesday and on Thursday staffers were sent to buy cots and inflatable mattresses.
He said that starting this weekend, children will be housed at a different building on a former medical center campus until they can be housed in a new location that should be finished in a month.
Housing children for now at the former medical center campus is “against the law” because it's not licensed by the state, Rousseau said.
“But we have no choice. We have no place to take these young folks,” he said.
California proposes new oil drilling ban near neighborhoods .
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's oil and gas regulator on Thursday proposed that the state ban new oil and gas drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, homes and hospitals to protect public health in what would be the nation's largest buffer zone between oil wells and communities. It's the latest effort by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration to wind down oil production in California, aligning him with environmental advocates pushing to curb the effects of climate change and against the powerful oil industry in the nation's seventh-largest oil producing state.