A California mother is suing after reportedly finding proof that her 4-year-old daughter suffered severe abuse while she was in foster care.
The woman, identified in reports only as "Ana" to protect her daughter's identity, has since filed a lawsuit against the Santa Clara Department of Social Services for ignoring multiple reports of abuse for months, NBC News reports. Ana’s lawsuit is one of two currently being filed against the DSS in regards to the 4-year-old girl.
Ana told NBC News that she took more than 100 photos of her daughter during her court-ordered supervised visits as proof of the abuse. The social workers, however, allegedly refused to look at them.
Others also reportedly tried to alert DSS on the girl’s behalf, including her pre-school teacher, according to court records cited by NBC.
Ana's daughter eventually ended up in the hospital with bites, bruises and burns last year. The child’s guardian, her half-sister, is now facing charges of torture.
“I wish somebody [did] something and social services pays for what happened to my daughter,” Ana told NBC.
According to a 2013 audit issued by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, the County was found not to have answered 41 percent of the calls to the emergency child abuse hotline. Although that number has been lowered to 11 percent as of 2015, high turnover and rising caseloads continue to be an issue.
In addition, in 2014, Santa Clara County's welfare system fell below more than 12 federal and state government standards, SF Bay reported in February. A review of the county's foster care system showed that it failed to reach goals such as preventing repeated maltreatment of children, ensuring that social workers make timely visits, reuniting children with families, and arranging for adoptions within a year of care, among others.
Experts have noted that these things can prohibit trust barriers and prevent children from reporting abuse.
“I don’t think any member of the board will be satisfied with anything less than 100 percent responsiveness to those calls and immediate responsiveness to the actual needs of the children and families,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese told NBC.
Although social services has recently hired more workers to man the hotlines, an October hearing revealed there were 50 vacancies for social workers, and caseloads are high.
Ana's daughter has reportedly recovered from the trauma she suffered, and Ana is hopeful that they will be reunited soon.