Did CNN expose Child Protective Services sending children to sex offenders’ addresses?

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child protective services

The Claim:

In 2011, CNN claimed that California Department of Social Services, which oversees Child Protective Services, was sending children to facilities that matched 677 addresses in a sex offender database.

The Verdict:

CNN published a column in 2011 about California Child Protective Services (CPS) potentially exposing thousands of children to sex offenders. The article investigated Director Will Lightbourne and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), which oversees child welfare in the state. CNN’s piece was corroborated by another story in the Los Angeles Times. This article stated that the Department of Social Services was advised to perform an audit of sex offender registries in 2008, but did not do it. For approximately 3 years, CDSS ignored the problem, placing foster children in danger.

Despite the recommendation for an audit that would help keep children safe, CDSS Director Will Lightbourne, who was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown, issued an objection:

We are concerned, however, that performing matches against every known sex offender address may not be the most effective means of prevention and ensuring protection. The process involved in this audit required CDSS and counties to investigate every known address of sex offenders, including addresses that were years and in some cases, decades, out of date,” Lightbourne said.

Child Protective Services has a long and highly controversial history. One of its greatest opponents was Senator Nancy Schaefer of Georgia, who openly criticized the actions of CPS and wrote an official government document exposing its corruption.

Before her murder, Schaefer stated that she believed she lost her Senate seat because of the document, called “The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services.” Schaefer published it in 2007 and updated it in September 2008. This was the same year that California Department of Social Services was advised to audit the sex offender registries, but didn’t. Schaefer targeted California and the state’s involvement in unnecessary removal of children from their parents in her report:

That according to the California Little Hoover Commission Report in 2003, 30% to 70% of the children in California group homes do not belong there and should not have been removed from their homes.”¹

Schaefer also cited that children are much more likely to suffer abuse and 6 times more likely to die in foster care than with their parents:

…that The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety”, these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population. Think what that number is today ten years later!”²

Nancy Schaefer was right. In 2011, it was revealed that California’s foster system placed thousands of children in “high risk” and potentially abusive situations.

According to the CNN article, California’s foster homes were the primary target of the 2011 audit:

Specifically, the report said that 677 foster and group homes and other state-licensed facilities for children matched sex offenders’ addresses…

The auditor found that almost 600 of the 1,000 address matches were ‘high risk and in need of immediate investigation,’ the report said. It was not clear from the report how many foster and group homes are in California, in total.”³

CNN’s column reinforces what Nancy Schaefer had already written in “The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services.” California’s children were exposed to significantly higher risk of sexual abuse and death in the foster system with little government oversight to keep them safe.