Quick Thinking HHSA Employees Protect Child From Harm

Quick action by Human Service Specialist Veasna Ngan, left, and Protective Social Worker Brian Piepenbrink ensured the safe return of a child from Washington whose parents were fleeing authorities there and were suspected of abusing him.

On November 2nd, Veasna Ngan, a Human Service Specialist from the Central Region Cal Works General Task Group, was processing a referral for Food Stamps for a family who had just relocated to San Diego from Washington State. The family consisted of two parents and their 18 month old son. Like many families who come to the FRC for assistance, this family was in need of housing support and food stamps. After the HOT team assisted the family with temporary shelter, Ngan began processing their application for food stamps.

Following protocol, Ngan first called Washington State to ensure that the family was not receiving other government assistance. In doing so, he came across information that the couple’s child was registered in as a missing child. Because the Cal Works General Task Group and Child Welfare Services (CWS) are located together, Ngan was able to immediately contact CWS Supervisor Jaime Pineda for assistance. Upon further research, CWS learned that the Washington  Juvenile Court had issued a pick up and detain order for the child due to abuse and neglect; however, the parents had fled with him and CWS in Washington had lost contact with the family.

Thanks to the quick thinking by Ngan and collaboration with Protective Service Worker Brian Piepenbrink, the child was located and taken into protective custody within 24 hours. He was safely returned to Washington after spending the night at Polinsky Children’s Center. The child welfare worker in Washington was relieved to see the child and said “You don’t know how worried I’ve been about this little guy and how relieved I am to know that he’s okay.”