Too many children too easily fall through the cracks of society—unwanted or uncared for by parents who are either unwilling or unable to provide care. Foster youths are among the most vulnerable members of society and arguably the most in need of a solid social safety net. And while controversial deaths of children in L.A. County’s foster care system get publicity, thousands of foster youths each year find themselves without shelter, an education or job prospects and many of them are left to their own devices once they turn 18. Los Angeles, with the highest number of kids in foster care in the country, had 22,291 children in the foster care system in 2008, which actually shows years of progress in reducing the numbers. Even as the number of kids in the system comes down, these youths find themselves facing long odds at success: less than 4% of children in the foster care system nationwide graduate from a 4-year college. In this second part of a series examining foster care in Los Angeles, Patt talks with the embattled director of the L.A. County Department of Child & Family Services, tasked with the impossibly difficult job of caring for thousands of neglected children.
Trish Ploehn, director of the Los Angeles County Director of Children & Family Services