Los Angeles Child Welfare System in “Crisis” Mode

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Child Welfare Exec Taking the Heat for Department Meltdown

The head of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services may be soon replaced, according to inside sources, as a result of the ongoing critical operating issues within the agency. The move comes on the heels of a just-released report by Los Angeles County chief executive William Fujioka, which claims that the system has broken down, noting high employee stress levels, inexperienced caseworkers and excessive employee turnover.

The current chief of the department, Trish Ploehn, will likely be moved to another position in the sprawling system, covering the largest county in the U.S. The county Board of Supervisors has been increasingly under fire to take action and address problems including the death from abuse or neglect of 67 children which were being supervised by the agency, since January 2008. The department acknowledged that deaths are on the rise and that a number of them have been linked to management errors.

Some of the issues now surfacing have come about from a new state disclosure law that allows for more public scrutiny of the department, and revealed inadequacies within the system. Caseworkers are now required to conduct more interviews and review more records before taking action on cases.  The move to create more thorough investigations has led to a massive backlog in cases.

The state mandated deadline for cases involving reported child abuse is two months. The most recent county records showed that 40 percent of such cases exceeded the deadline for investigation.

The report issued by Fujioka suggested a number a changes to the system, some of which the department says are already being implemented. Among them are overhauling rules to make the department more streamlined, reducing employee meetings, better evaluation procedures of caseworkers and the ability to fire them if they don’t meet certain job standards.

The department is the third largest child welfare system in the country and employs more than 7,000 people. It handles over 170,000 calls per year reporting child neglect or abuse and manages a continuing caseload of 32,000 children.

Los Angeles Times

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Comment (1)
  1. Kidnappers in sheeps clothing says:

    I never could imagine such evil existed until I was forced to examine this system!!! All that is done in Darkness will come to light.. For a long time the public was unaware that this is an absolute disgrace..
    Because of Greed The whole “Best interest Of the Children” has been twisted into a profitable business that makes thier profit by tearing loving families apart.. If you really look at the numbers I would say less than half of these children that are fostered out didnt even need to be taken from thier home…. Its all about whos got the fatest wallet and willing to pay good money for our children.. In my opinion.. Trisha should step down from such a disgraceful cause.. I would absolutely do the same thing if not change occupation all together…

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