Supervisor Ridley-Thomas blames outdated computer system for foster children deaths

Reacting to a recent spike of deaths in the county's foster care system, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said today the county needs to take steps to better protect children.

In a statement released by the supervisor's office, Ridley-Thomas blamed recent tragedies in part on an outdated computer system implemented by the county in 2005 – a system he says is "based on 1990s technology" and incapable of providing vital information to social workers.

Ridley-Thomas said better systems exist and would provide child protection workers with information on past abuse chronicled by law enforcement, preparing them for more thorough examinations of parents on their watch.

"... Social workers, law enforcement, mental health and other officials need to be able to share information through a common network," Ridley-Thomas said.

Ridley-Thomas, who has served in both the state Assembly and the Senate, noted that state privacy laws might impede implementation of such a system but added: "This is not a time for excuses. If our state laws need to be amended they can be. We can balance privacy and safety."

"We must give the protectors of minors in the county's custody or care adequate tools for the mission to safeguard children," he said. "We can't go on asking social workers to use an incomplete children's data network."