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DCFS defends agency before Supervisors

April 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Social workers defended themselves before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors after a report that 14 children died last year of abuse and neglect, while their families were under scrutiny by the child welfare system. About 30 social workers rallied outside the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration Building before going in to testify before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Inside they informed the board that each social worker with the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has a case load of 25 children. Each of the Service Employees International Union social workers said that while one child's death is one too many, they want to work with the DCFS directly to improve child safety.

"As social workers we have a tremendous amount of responsibility," said social worker Taunya Taylor. "We know that if we make a mistake a child could die. For that reason I will never defend poor social work. But when a social worker does the best he or she can do with all the available resources, that is nothing short of heroic."

"We do not want to forget these tragedies, but we want to look closely at the system that caused them or contributed to them," said social worker David Green. "We also want to find ways to work together. As a social worker I often find myself in a system that is statistic-driven rather than children-driven."

A recent published report stated that 14 children in foster care last year died. The board asked what's being done now to prevent deaths within the foster care system.

"We will do a process of reviewing and determining at that point in time whether anyone indeed needs to be taken off of their file," said DCFS Director Patricia Ploehn.

The end result of Tuesday's hearing is that DCFS is due back in 30 days with a preliminary report on its revisions on how to prevent child deaths and working with social workers who have to deal with that tragedy.


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