Supervisors Call for an Audit of DCFS……..No More Business as Usual

 Once again another child in the care of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services has died this time of a suicide at home after a visit from a DCFS assessment worker. This kind of senseless act cries out for some action and indeed the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors have called for an audit of DCFS in order to develop a plan of action to mitigate, if not eliminate, the death of children in their care.
DCFS has been under tremendous pressure because of the number of children’s deaths associated with the department. I know that they have reorganized various functions and increased the number of workers reviewing the most critical cases and yet the deaths continue. A report in the Los Angeles Times on this most recent death addressed the lack of resources available for workers to communicate effectively, making it possible for critical issues to go unattended.
In spite of a more protective approach, many protocols continue to be maintained that do not facilitate a comprehensive, efficient or effective approach to serve the needs of children and families who are more vulnerable than ever. Somehow the system needs to cut through the “red tape” and develop the capacity to do whatever it takes to prevent these unnecessary deaths. Although resources have been shifted incredibly, some of the basic issues to allow for effective, real-time communication go unfunded!
We support the call of the Supervisors to “audit” DCFS and encourage them to look not only at DCFS but the whole system of care that addresses vulnerable children.
In the meantime, vigilance alone will not mitigate the risk of more deaths; only clear priorities, appropriate resource allocation and a more comprehensive approach can keep children and families safe as the audit is conducted.
No-one wants to see a child die and certainly DCFS as an organization is further demoralized with each one. There comes a time when a new path must be developed, and perhaps the death of these children can lead to the development of better system of care.
There is no time to waste for one child’s death is too much!

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