DCFS defies subpoena for records involving children deaths
Serious case management errors
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A dispute has arisen between Los Angeles County and state auditors who want to see records involving the deaths of children who had been under the supervision of the troubled Department of Children and Family Services.
Despite a warning from California’s state auditor that they were committing a crime, Los Angeles County supervisors have defied a subpoena for records involving the deaths, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The inquiry was launched by the Legislature after reports in The Times that more than 70 children had died since 2008 of abuse or neglect after coming to the attention of L.A. County social workers. Many of those deaths involved serious case management errors, county officials have confirmed, according to The Times.
The audit seeks to identify whether systemic flaws contributed to fatalities in Los Angeles and other counties. Lawmakers said it probably would result in legal reforms, according to The Times.
A lawyer hired by L.A. County told The Times that officials had provided dozens of boxes of records and allowed auditors to interview social workers but would not turn over documents they believe are shielded by attorney-client privilege.
“In addition to the county’s established right to protect its communications with its attorneys, the county seeks to preserve its ability to candidly evaluate its child protective services...,” attorney Daniel P. Barer wrote in a response to questions from The Times.
The three other counties subject to the probe—Alameda, Fresno and Sacramento—have complied with similar subpoenas, but auditors said they were confronted by “stalling tactics and unyielding refusal” in Los Angeles, The Times reported.
As a result, state officials said they would issue an audit that addresses only the three other counties while they fight for access in Los Angeles.
“But make no mistake, we will not relent in accomplishing our mission of performing the audit that we were directed to perform by the Legislature,” wrote Sharon Reilly, chief legal counsel for state auditor Elaine Howle.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has asked the Department of Children and Family Services to provide 20 years of data on the deaths of children with prior history with the department.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas made the proposal, saying the department had been unable to provide essential information.
"DCFS has acknowledged that record keeping, formatting issues and other problems have thus far prevented DCFS from presenting a clear, consistent statistical picture of child deaths over time,'' said Ridley-Thomas.
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—A Los Angeles County social worker has accused his managers of routinely housing children in an office building without sufficient meals and bedding and then trying to keep the news from their bosses, it was reported today.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Millions of dollars would flow back into the economy of the Greater Los Angeles area if just half of the high school students who dropped out last year completed their education, according to a study released today.
The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan statistical area was among 16 MSAs in the state analyzed by the nonprofit Alliance for Excellent Education, which studied the economic returns lost as a result of young people leaving school early.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Reacting to a report that more than $500,000 was spent on inappropriate or unnecessary cellular telephone calls made by child welfare workers in 2009, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took action today to curb spending on more than 5,000 mobile telephones.
Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe found that about a quarter of the Department of Children and Family Services cellular telephone budget of more than $2.2 million went toward questionable charges.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A woman surrendered a 3-hour-old infant at a City of Industry fire station—the fifth such "safe surrender'' in the county this year, a county supervisor said today.
"This case could have ended in tragedy,'' said Supervisor Don Knabe, "but because of the Safe Surrender program this baby boy has a long life ahead of him.''