Fresno County appoints 30-year county employee as interim director of the Dept. of Social Services

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Thursday, November 25, 2021
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The change comes after the county was put under the microscope over the living conditions for children waiting for foster homes.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- New leadership is coming to the Fresno County Department of Social Services.

An interim director has been appointed as the current director wraps up his final weeks with the county.

The change comes after the county was put under the microscope over the living conditions for children waiting for foster homes.

Maria Aguirre has been appointed as the interim director, less than two weeks after it was announced Director Delfino Neira will be leaving the county.

RELATED: Fresno Co. Social Services looks for long-term plan to house kids, here's how other counties do it

"One of the things that is great about Maria is she's been with Fresno County for 30 years. She's got a lot of experience in the child welfare division," said Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig.

Neira's last day will be December 13th.

The announcement about his departure came a month after the employees with the Department of Child Welfare services called out the county for allowing children waiting for a foster family to sleep on top of desks and on the ground in offices.

Since then, the county created a temporary shelter in offices at the old University Medical Center while they waited for construction to be completed on the new child welfare services building in Clovis.

That facility was expected to be completed this week but has now been pushed back to December.

"Of course, with construction, we experienced a couple of different delays, but we're still moving as quickly as possible to get that building ready," said Magsig.

The county says the new Clovis building will help with Child Welfare Services, but they're still looking for a long-term solution for children awaiting a foster home.

RELATED: Fresno social workers call for change as children sleep on floors, desks while waiting for a home

Aguirre, the appointed interim director, has worked with the Department of Social Services for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Child Welfare.

"A lot of the knowledge and time that she spent in the Department of Social Services will help us as we transition and go out and look for a permanent director for that department," Magsig said.

With around 3,000 and a nearly $2 billion budget, Supervisor Magsig said the next director will need to understand all aspects of the Department of Social Services and understand how it functions in the state.

Recruitment will open in December and the position will be filled in the first quarter of the new year.

"I know our board of supervisors are very interested in an individual that has a track record of success and truly understands all that the Department of Social Services does," said Magsig.

RELATED: Fresno County Foster Care Oversight Committee chair says they were never told about conditions

Supervisor Magsig is also issuing a call to action. He's asking residents in Fresno County to consider becoming foster parents.

He said, because of past state legislation, there are limited places for children to go and the need is high.