Child Welfare

When the family and the schools all fail, the child welfare system comes into play. Diane’s mother was forced into a state hospital for tuberculosis patients in Southern California, and her sisters were taken to live with relatives. Diane was 11 years old.

Women held in Olive View
Source: Calisphere
Early cottages at Olive View

By the time she reached 12 years old, Diane lived alone with her father, who spent working hours away from home and left her unsupervised. She got into trouble. First it was an incident where she had to care for a dog that her father wanted, but did not take care of himself, and while picking up after the dog, Diane ended up flipping some poop onto a neighbor’s garage wall. That earned her a black mark. Then a more serious episode occurred where she and a local boy spotted a neighbor’s raspberry bushes, ripe with fruit. As they picked and ate the fruit, they trampled the bushes. The neighbor spotted them and called the police this time.

Child welfare was called to investigate. They found that Diane was unsupervised and neglected, and she was put in foster care briefly. She was transferred to Julia Lathrop Cottages (as she remembered it—I cannot find any reference) while being evaluated, then transferred to Maclaren Hall in El Monte, California.

Article in Los Angeles Times Dec 4., 1977

I can’t find information in her writings about how long she spent in those facilities, but while she was there, her education was disrupted once more. Diane never described her experiences during her time in foster care. She might have been very confused and upset, and just couldn’t remember. She may have been bullied, intimidated, or abused. MacLaren Hall closed in 2003 after a series of physical and sexual abuse of the residents came to light. Former Maclaren Hall residents told stories in their online group that accord with Diane’s own story of how she was treated at Sauk Centre.

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