Barger and Hahn Call for Comprehensive, Independent Assessment of L.A. County’s Child Welfare Department

Los Angeles County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn called today for a thorough assessment of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) that will place a spotlight on how well the organization is guided by evidence-based decisions and data to deliver outcomes for its clients.

The motion includes an evaluation of DCFS’ management structure and staffing levels – information that both Supervisors noted would be valuable to the department’s forthcoming new director.

“Today is precisely the right time for the Board to assess DCFS,” Supervisor Barger said.  “While in the process of hiring a permanent child welfare director, we should use this time to interview stakeholders, staff, and community members to see if there are opportunities for improvement or cost savings. Given DCFS’ structural deficit, this cannot wait for months of review. We should get this assessment in place so the incoming director has information on day one to hit the ground running ready to lead.”

“The Department of Children and Family Services is complicated,” Supervisor Hahn said. “We have asked it to serve as a child protection system and a system for child and family well-being that focuses on prevention. This assessment will help give us an objective look at the challenges this department is grappling with and help us better understand why this department has not been able to better serve the County’s children, young people, and families.”

David Green, President of SEIU Local 721, voiced his support of the motion during the call-in portion of the Board’s meeting.

“As a 21-year veteran, I’ve seen the complexities of working to support children and families involved with the child welfare system,” David Green said. “As social workers, it’s our responsibility to lead the way in innovation. This assessment will help us identify how to best work together to protect children. I’m asking on behalf of our frontline workers to involve them in the process and move forward.”

The Board of Supervisors passed the motion today with a 3 to 2 vote.

An independent consultant will be hired to perform the programmatic and management audit for DCFS, the nation’s largest child welfare agency. The analysis will also assess if programs were developed in a culturally competent and community focused manner.

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