Thirteen children who were rescued from captivity in their parents’ home in 2018 after decades of abuse were “frustrated, inaudible, suffocated” and “stranded” by the Riverside County social services system, according to a report released Friday .
Some of Turpin’s youngest children – aged 2 to 29 at the time – were placed in the care of adoptive parents who were later charged with child abuse, according to the report released by outside investigators hired by the county. Older children “experienced periods of housing instability and food insecurity during their transition to independence”.
According to the eight-month investigation by Larson LLP, a law firm headed by former U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson, many children also struggled with confusing court proceedings and did not have immediate access to funds for their use.
David and Louise Turpin were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in 2019 for the torture, abuse and imprisonment of their children. When the children were found in their Perris home, they were severely malnourished and some showed signs of cognitive impairment and nerve damage.
The children were beaten, starved and sometimes chained to their beds, prosecutors said.
“The siblings’ lives have been permanently altered in their ability to learn, grow and thrive,” Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Schwartz said before sentencing the siblings. Turpins.
Friday’s report acknowledged that “as far as the Turpin siblings are concerned…there have been many times over the past four years that they have received the care they needed from the county,” but ultimately “this was not always the case, however, and too often the social services system failed them.
Riverside County retained Larson LLP in October 2021 to assess its care of the Turpin children and to conduct an overview of the county system. The firm brought together a team of professors and researchers from UC Berkeley, UCLA and Virginia Tech to perform an in-depth review of more than 30,000 pages of county documents. They also interviewed and surveyed hundreds of staff, stakeholders, family members and staff, among others.
The report also recommended policy changes to help reform the county’s social services system, including increasing the staffing and compensation of the Division of Children’s Services and the Office of the Public Guardian to ensure parity with surrounding counties. He called for setting caseload limits for frontline workers and launching a countywide effort to expand the availability of high-quality, safe foster care placements for children with special needs. .
The report also noted that the county is working on a state Senate bill sponsored by Senator Rosilicie.
Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) that would allow information sharing between departments providing holistic care.
An ad hoc committee of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors will oversee implementation of the report’s recommendations, officials said.
“As public servants, our duty is to ensure that our most vulnerable communities receive the care and protection they deserve,” Supervisor Karen Spiegel, co-chair of the committee, said in a statement. “I’m committed to making sure we have the tools, resources and people to provide that care. Now is the time to act and I will support all efforts to meet the challenge.
The fate of the children was first revealed in 2018 when Jordan Turpin, who was 17 at the time, escaped from her parents’ home in Perris and called 911 to report the abuse she and his siblings had suffered. The siblings were later rescued by police from their home.
Authorities discovered that the children had been tortured and abused by their parents, who deprived them of food, sleep, hygiene and health care.
Seven of the adult children were placed in the care of the Riverside County Office of the Public Guardian. According to the report, five of them ended their guardianship in 2019, and the Office of the Public Guardian remains the custodian for the remaining two.
“Turpin’s harrowing cases presented a unique challenge for OPG. The Turpin siblings had suffered severe, long-term abuse and neglect from their parents. Their public profile was high and their need for privacy was great,” according to the report.
Although much of the report has been redacted for confidentiality reasons, it lists several areas of concern during Turpin’s conservatorship, including heated disputes between the appointed attorney for the children, which caused stress for the brothers and sisters, as well as a lack of communication which led to mismanagement of their funds.
The report, however, noted that all of the $400,000 in the Turpin children’s special needs trusts had been accounted for and there were no signs of embezzlement or theft.
Besides the Turpin case, the investigation also revealed problems within Riverside County’s social services system, including overworked staff, high caseloads, underfunded programs and poor coordination between departments.
“In short, while there are many examples of dedicated Riverside County staff succeeding despite systemic obstacles in their path, there are too many other examples of failure or even outright failure,” says The report.