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7 things to know before lunch—Foster parent shortage, shrinking avocados, Elmore Leonard RIP, Dick Van Dyke RUOK

Photo by Melissa / via Flickr Creative Commons

1. There is a shortage of foster parents in LA County (KPCC)

Traditionally the county's foster care system has struggled with a shortage of homes for older children with medical and mental health needs. In the past year, however, system workers noticed a shift — suddenly, there's a shortage of beds for the system's babies and toddlers.

The unusual predicament is putting a strain on the L.A. County child welfare system with more and more kids spending hours and sometimes days in the welcome center, a daycare converted into an after hours reception center for small children entering the foster care system.

2. One by one, Calif. agents track down illegally owned guns (NPR)

In California, officials are ramping up a unique program that identifies and seizes guns from people who are prohibited from keeping them.

Under state law, a legally registered gun owner loses the right to own a firearm when he or she is convicted of a crime or becomes mentally ill. Last year, state agents seized nearly 2,000 firearms.

3. The incredible shrinking avocado (NPR)

Hundreds of thousands Southern California trees are sagging with the tiniest Hass avocados in local memory — some just the size of a golf ball.

Low winter rainfall in early 2012, erratic bee activity during the late spring bloom period and unseasonably cool and cloudy weather are thought to be the cause. By most accounts, the fruits are about 30 percent smaller than usual.

4. Motorist pulls man from burning car, realizes it's Dick Van Dyke (KPCC)

Dick Van Dyke is uninjured after his Jaguar caught fire while he was driving on a Los Angeles freeway on Monday. California Highway Patrol says the 87-year-old entertainer was not treated or cited at the scene.

Witnesses reported an elderly man was slumped over behind the wheel of the flaming car. Dramatic video shows passers-by stopping to help the man, whom police and fire officials identified as Van Dyke.

5. Best-selling author Elmore Leonard dies at 87 (KPCC)

Elmore Leonard, a former adman who later in life became one of America's foremost crime writers, has died. He was 87. His researcher, Gregg Sutter, says Elmore passed away Tuesday morning from complications from a stroke.

Leonard's books were populated by pathetic schemers, clever con men and casual killers. And many of the novels — notably "Out of Sight," ''Get Shorty" and "Be Cool" — were made into films. Critics adored his simple, direct language.

6. Dead kidnap suspect left life insurance money to Hannah Anderson's family (KPCC)

James Lee DiMaggio who died in a shootout with FBI agents after allegedly kidnapping a 16-year-old girl and killing her mother and brother, named a member of the victims' family as the sole beneficiary of his employer-issued life insurance policy in 2011.

DiMaggio had been like an uncle to the Anderson children, and the father's best friend. He left the $112,000 to Hannah Anderson's paternal grandmother after substituting her for his sister on the policy.

7. Cyberbullying bill would give schools power to punish kids for outside activities (KPCC)

A new California bill would allow school administrators to punish students who bully online. School officials would have the power to expel students even if the cyber bullying took place off school grounds.

Authored by Assembly member Cristina Garcia, the bill comes after recent suicides from victims of bullying. In Saratoga, two young girls were sexually assaulted, then teased repeatedly online before committing suicide. School officials could not stop the cyber attacks because it was outside school property.