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Kern County social workers shaken by attack and vandalism

The Kern County Department of Human Services building in Bakersfield, Calif., is seen Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Carol Ferguson)

Kern County Human Services officials are looking at how they can increase safety measures after a Child Protective Services worker was assaulted on Tuesday and several incidents of vandalism a few days before that.

The female CPS worker is recovering, according to CPS Assistant Director Antanette Reed. But, she declined to say more about the worker’s condition.

Reed said the worker had been attacked by a "sharp object." The name of that social worker is not being released, but Reed said she's been with the department for more than a couple years.

Social workers can face risky situations, but they haven't had many confrontations resulting in serious injuries, according to officials.

"We've had staff physically attacked. They receive a punch to the face, or they get shoved or punched," Reed told Eyewitness News on Friday. "We don't have a lot of instances that happen this way."

Reed will only say the assault happened in "metro Bakersfield" as the social worker was investigating the safety of an infant. She said a suspect was arrested but declined to release that person's name.

Meanwhile on Friday, workers were repairing broken windows in the big Human Services office at Union and California Avenue. They were smashed Saturday morning.

"There were two rocks thrown through two different windows," Reed said. "There were no injuries as a result of that." She said law enforcement was called out, and she has no information on a suspect.

That followed incidents of two cars being vandalized in the office parking lot Friday evening. Reed said a police report has been filed on that, and she also has no information on any suspect.

Reed said the department has no idea if any of the incidents are connected.

She said the staff is understandably worried.

"They're concerned, of course, about the safety of every staff member that is involved in any type of incident," she said. "So, we're trying to rally together and be supportive of each other."

Reed said the executive team at Human Services is asking the staff for any suggestions for additional safety precautions, and they're "taking them to heart."

The department is big, they have nearly 2,000 employees, Reed said. She adds the CPS staff numbers nearly 500.

She said the department appreciates the hard work of the employees and said they'll continue that hard work.

"Know that we'll continue to respond, and we'll continue to provide services to our clients in the community," Reed said. "And we'll continue to support our staff."

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