Crime & Justice

LA County Supervisors asked to act fast on reforms to child welfare system

The blue ribbon commission votes on the language of a final report that took a critical look at L.A. County's foster care system on April 10, 2014. It is set to be presented to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors later this month.
The blue ribbon commission votes on the language of a final report that took a critical look at L.A. County's foster care system on April 10, 2014. It is set to be presented to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors later this month.
Karen Foshay/KPCC

Listen to story

00:59
Download this story 0MB

Leaders of a transition team for the new Office of Child Protection told Los Angeles County Supervisors Tuesday much still needs to be done to reform the county's troubled child welfare system - and asked that they do a few easy things now.

The team's co-chairs said some progress was made in 2014, but many reforms recommended by a Blue Ribbon Commission last April haven’t been implemented by the board - including writing up a mission statement and regularly evaluating the department's performance.

The team, made up of seasoned volunteers, was formed last year to help the county execute the commission's recommendations and monitor progress.

The board is in the process of hiring a "child welfare czar" to lead the new independent Office of Child Protection and oversee reform.

"A mission statement at this point, would send a signal to potential candidates that the board of supervisors is committed to this important goal," Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, one of the leaders of the transition team, told Supervisors Tuesday.

Some of the recommended changes are complex, and will take funding, legal counsel, and coordination with multiple county and state officials to accomplish.

Supervisors agreed action was needed quickly, and that they would begin work on areas within their power.

"What's lagging is implementation," said supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "It baffles me that we haven't moved any more quickly than we have to date."

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said she would begin work on a mission statement, and would continue working with state lawmakers on payments to guardians who are related to kids in the foster care system, which was another issue raised by the transition team.

"I think the public confidence in what we're doing is very low," Kuehl said. "They haven't seen us doing much, and they don't know that we will do much. And all I can say is, we have five policy makers here, and I think, we're all, each in our own ways, quite devoted to this, and we will move it forward."