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LA supervisors oust child welfare chief

December 14, 2010 12:34:10 AM PST
L.A. County's Child Welfare Chief Trish Ploehn was removed from her post because county supervisors were not satisfied with her management of the department and a disturbing number of child deaths.Now, there will be a nationwide search for a new director.

The problems at the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services have been mounting. At least 14 children have died while under the supervision of DCFS workers, and most were living with their parents in spite of allegations of abuse and neglect.

After a stormy four years, Ploehn was removed from her post.

In a goodbye letter to her employees, Ploehn said, "Our department is on the right track, irrespective of what is said by those who may be quick to offer criticism without fully understanding what we do."

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors had been increasingly critical of Ploehn's management, citing mistakes in handling cases, a lack of transparency and a backlog of about 10,000 incomplete child abuse investigations.

"The department needs to be transparent; it needs to put children's safety first. It needs to have administrative strength," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "They need to be able to manage their budget in a way that addresses the budgetary crisis that we face. "

County Chief Executive William Fujioka made the decision to replace Ploehn.

"Both Trish and I believe that the DCFS mission is one of the most important in the county and that it is critical that the department stay solidly focused on that mission at all times," he said in a statement.

Ploehn has been given a new job in the county's Chief Executives office, but her duties will not include child welfare.


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