Top Stories of 2019: What Lessons Will Be Learned from Noah Cuatro’s Death?

We’re counting down 10 of the biggest stories The Chronicle of Social Change published in 2019. Each day, we’ll connect readers with a few links to our coverage on a big story from this past year.

The Chronicle of Social Change rarely covers child deaths – these tragedies tend to get an inordinate amount of attention from mainstream media, and that coverage typically fails to capture the complexity of child welfare systems, focusing instead on words like failure and broken. Rarely does the media cover what happens next, or whether policy and practice are changed as a result.

We have made exceptions in our coverage of Los Angeles County, partly because it is where we are headquartered, but also because it is the largest locally administered child welfare system in the nation and, if managed well, might serve as an exemplar for others.

Back in 2013, the county empaneled a “blue ribbon commission” following the horrific death of another boy, Gabriel Fernandez, and we made the decision to follow that commission, report on its findings, and track the implementation of its final recommendations.

In the intervening years, some recommendations were fully executed, but some of the people involved in that commission say many of the changes they suggested were left to gather dust as they sit unread on county administrators’ bookshelves. Since then, three more boys have died, allegedly at the hands of their parents and despite having been known to the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services.

In 2019, we investigated not the death of 4-year-old Noah Cuatro, but the decisions and events that seemed to lead to his demise. Following are a few of the most important stories from that series.

Lead Reads

L.A. Police Failed to Investigate 4,000 Serious Child Abuse Reports in 2018 and 2019

EXCLUSIVE: New Details Reveal How Two Social Workers Fought, But Failed, to Save 4-Year-Old Noah Cuatro

Also Read

You can read all our coverage of the Noah Cuatro story here.


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Christie Renick, Southwest Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Christie Renick, Southwest Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change 119 Articles
Tucson-based southwest editor and vice president of Fostering Media Connections. Reach her at crenick@fosteringmediaconnections.org or follow @christiejrenick.