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New director sought for Riverside County's social services department


Last updated 9/13/2018 at 12:31pm

RIVERSIDE -- A search is underway for a new director for Riverside County's Department of Public Social Services following the sudden departure earlier this week of the manager who had held the job since 2007.

Sarah Mack, the county's assistant chief executive of Human Services, will lead the department while the county searches for a permanent director following the departure Monday of Director Susan von Zabern, County Executive Officer George Johnson wrote in an email to employees. The department, which oversees local Medi-Cal and social services enrollment, is responsible for protecting at-risk adults and children in a county of 2.3 million.

No reason was given for why Susan von Zabern is no longer director of the Department of Public Social Services. Her departure comes following two recent lawsuits that raise questions about the department's ability to shield children from abuse and neglect.

The civil lawsuits, filed on behalf of the alleged victims and not previously disclosed publicly, claim county social workers mishandled cases involving a 3-year-old found hugging her infant sibling's mummified corpse and a 13-year-old raped repeatedly, beginning when she was 11, and eventually impregnated by her mother's live-in boyfriend, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

Von Zabern, whose salary was $257,400, is eligible for six months' severance. She started with the county in 1991 as an associate administrative analyst before rising through the ranks to become social services director.


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