Press release from the California Department of Social Services



Department of Social Services Makes Decisions on Funding

Sacramento - California Department of Social Services Director Eloise Anderson today released the following statement regarding the investigation into the death of Nicholaus Contreraz at Arizona Boys Ranch and the well-being of the children currently residing at the facility.

"On March 4, 1998, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) learned of Nicholaus Contreraz's death at Arizona Boys Ranch (ABR). In response to this information CDSS suspended state and federal foster care funding for new placements at ABR pending CDSS review. The investigation team has completed that review.

"The investigation determined that medical neglect and physical abuse caused the death of Nicholaus Contreraz. The investigation also found the stated philosophy of how youth are treated at ABR is very different from the actual practice. The investigation found widespread excessive use of physical restraint and hands-on confrontation by ABR staff.

"As a result of this investigation, I will continue the present suspension of new placements at ABR. Further, effective August 1, the State will no longer provide state or federal foster care payments for the remaining youth still residing at ABR.

"If I had the authority to remove these kids, I would bring them home or place them in a safe facility today. I do not have that authority. That authority rests solely with the courts and county probation departments that placed children at ABR. These counties include Los Angeles, Madera, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Sutter and Yolo.

"The report also addresses the issue of out-of-state placements. It is my view that California kids that are removed from their homes must be properly assessed to determine their needs. Only then can a program be evaluated to see if it meets the child's needs. In those cases where a California facility meets those needs, the child should be placed in California. If the only placement that can meet the child's needs is out-of-state, we must be sure the facility meets California's licensing standards. This can only be done if we invest the resources to visit the facility site and review it as if it were in California"

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