After years of federal oversight, Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services Department and Probation Departments failed to improve the quality of services they provide to the children and families. As a result, yesterday, the Supervisors voted to take over the departments, according to the Times’ L.A. County supervisors take control of child services, probation departments. These departments will now be under the direct oversight of the county board.
Attorneys who practice child welfare and juvenile delinquency law in Los Angeles County witness the problems in these departments first-hand. Players in the system refuse to collaborate, view families and parents as adversaries, and then fail to keep kids safe in out-of-home care or in juvenile detention facilities. The system that sweeps children out of their parents’ homes does no better raising them with inadequate resources, supervision and care. The result is a culture of institutionalization and one that leaves many children no better off than they were before their came in contact with the people who are charged with helping them. In some cases children face a fate far worse, even death.
How the Supervisors will change administration of these agencies is to be seen. In 2010, as many as 41 children died who has some DCFS history, according to an April report discussed in the Press Telegram’s article, Report: Los Angeles County child abuse deaths are on decline. This author of the report opined that, “There is no trend that says whether you keep them at home or you bring them to foster care, the kid’s going to be safe. The data doesn’t substantiate any of that.”
The report fails to address that children are sometimes needless removed from their family’s home and placed in foster care, which adds additional trauma. Hopefully, changes in the administration of DCFS services will address this issue as well as the unacceptable rates of child deaths of kids in DCFS care.
Lauren K Johnson specializes in CPS cases and represents parents. She also represents minors in juvenile delinquency matters throughout Southern California.