Allow Emergency Holds in Cases of Severe Child Abuse - IMO Gabriel Fernandez
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The heart-wrenching case of Gabriel Fernandez brings to light the need for a change in the California Welfare and Institutions code to provide for an emergency intervention in cases of severe child abuse.
If a minor is thought to be injured and/or in immediate danger of physical harm or death, it should be considered an emergency. Law enforcement and specifically-designated school officials should be legally allowed to request a 24-72 hour hospital admittance to allow time for a medical examination, treatment, interviews, and a determination by the Department of Children and Family Services on whether or not the child should be removed from their home.
In the months before Gabriel's murder, Gabriel, his teachers, and even a stranger sought help for him. Teachers had made repeated calls to DCFS. A security guard at DPSS contacted 911 after observing obvious signs of physical abuse, he was told it was not an emergency. Sheriff's deputies had been to the home multiple times. On one occasion determining that Gabriel's injuries were the result of a fall. DCFS had investigated at least 6 reports of abuse and closed their investigation shortly before Gabriel's death. The county continues to fail Gabriel and all children by refusing to implement DCFS reforms recommended by the blue ribbon commission.
State-wide legal provisions are urgently needed to allow specifically-designated mandated reporters to take emergency action to save abused children that are injured or in imminent danger.
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