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Enact actual changes and fixes to protect children!

This petition had 25,974 supporters

We want change in how social workers in DCFS operate and want social workers to be held accountable for maintaining the normal standard within their job functions. By doing so, many children may be saved from the torturous type of child abuse that Gabriel Fernandez faced on a daily basis. Additionally, the changes will alleviate a lot of work overload piled onto efficient and competent social workers who are at full capacity and still meeting the standards.

Gabriel Fernandez died on May 24, 2013 after over 50+ reports/calls to DCFS.  He died with a fractured skull, damage all over his body, 3 broken ribs, missing teeth, swollen gums and bb gun pellets embedded in his lung and groin.  After a 30 minutes conversation with her supervisor, without the case file in their presence , Patricia Clement and Gregory Merritt decided to close Gabriel's case.  When questioned by Rodriguez, Clement stated everything was already fixing, she was getting Pearl the therapy she needed.  So, Rodriguez decided to do no further investigation.  The main concern of these two workers was getting help for Pearl.  Gabriel was suffering and needed the people who were supposed to be there to protect him.

In a video statement, Clements stated that she had worked as a social worker for many years and that she didn't have training. In her own words:

The union for the DCFS social workers would have you believe that they need more workers. However, the truth of the matter is, there needs to be an actual change and fix in the department before they can actually assess what is needed.  If they are not replacing social workers who are not meeting the minimal standard performance of their positions, then they are dead weight and need to be relieved of duties so that we can pay the people who can do the job and help alleviate the load.

(Example Logic) Every 1 competent worker carries the weight of about 3 incompetent workers, or more. 

The changes needed are as follows:

1. Firing power. If an employee is not meeting the minimum standard of their position, don't lessen their load, fire them.  

2. Accountability. If an employee performs badly, they suffer consequences, that include dismissal, without impunity.  Use the tax dollars wisely and hire competent employees.

3. Supervisor training. All supervisors should have formal education in Supervisory methods.  Knowledge of supervision practices should be required for the position and supervisory methods should be enforced and commended.

4. Fairness. Of course it seems like the workers are overloaded with cases. If you place incompetent employees on lesser loads, with the same pay rate as a competent employee with a higher load, it's simply unfair. All workers get the same amount, across the board. If the employee is incompetent, they must be reprimanded or dismissed.

5. Update your computer systems. If your databases and computers are outdated, they need to be updated. Especially to assist workers in keeping a circle of communication from their desk, to the police/sheriff's department and on to the District Attorney. All parties should be aware of abuse happening in a home and have the ability to take action immediately to prevent death.

6. Teamwork. Bottom line, children's safety is what we should all be working towards. It's so frustrating to hear how the good social workers have to go against every single obstacle, including their supervisors, just to keep a child safe. This needs to end.

7. Fix the problem. You can not put a band-aid on a gunshot wound and call it healed, and this simply cannot be done for any of the agencies in your power either. You must fix the problem. Once you have purged the incompetent employees, all workers are given the same amount of work across the board, then you can take a real, hard look and assess how many employees you actually need to hire.

Not only will all of the above save the government money, but it would help in fixing the problem.  If each worker gets an average of $45k and it takes up to 3 incompetent workers ($135k) to equal 1 competent ($45) worker, but purging 3 incompetent and hiring 1 competent, you save a total of $90k per year.  Now, if we simply take Gabriel's case and see that we have 2 workers here, plus 2 supervisors (approx $200k for the supervisors), that's about $300k/year wasted on people who were not doing the minimum requirement of their jobs.  We wasted money and lost an innocent child.  Save money, save children.

Community, it's time that we put our actions into this and ask the Board of Supervisors for REAL, PRACTICAL, FUNCTIONAL change.  It's not scapegoating DCFS, it's actually trying to save the children.

Thank you.

Gabriel's Justice


Board of Supervisors
Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration 
RE: Gabriel's Justice
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles CA 90012

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