The Ascension of a Czar

Los Angeles County is looking for a brave soul to head its newly formed Office of Child Protection, and anyone can apply.

“It will be a national search, and it is one of the most significant assignments that anyone in the nation can have in respect to child welfare services,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, one of five members of the County’s Board of Supervisors. “It will be handled by the executive office, and it’ll be a fully publicized search.”

Yesterday, the Board voted four-to-one to create an Office of Child Protection (OCP), which will have the authority to alter the budgets and move staff in various child-serving departments to better respond to and prevent child maltreatment. The director of the office will be responsible for all child protection services in the county and would also report directly to the board of supervisors.

According to the final report from the Blue Ribbon Commission that came out in April, “the director of this entity [OCP] must have experience in leading change in complex organizations and have a passion for protecting children.”

Along with this, the czar will work together in improving communication between departments that deal with child protection services, including the Department of Public Health, Mental Health, Health Services, Children and Family Services, Public Social Services and Probation. First 5 LA and other commissions will also be a part of this process.

Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles County, William T. Fujioka, released a report on Monday before the supervisors meeting, which highlighted the need for implementation of new County ordinances alongside amendments to current ordinances and laws so that this new position has the sweeping authority envisioned by the commission. Fujioka specifically noted the possible need to transfer duties of the Director of the Department of Children and Family Services to that of the proposed Director of the Office of Child Protection.

“Currently, it is the Director of the Department of Children and Family Services who directs the administration of children’s protection services,” Fujioka wrote. “For the Office of Child Protection to have authority to implement, rather than be an advisory body, one unified child protection system, it would appear to necessitate moving those functions from the Director of the Department of Children and Family Services to the Office of Child Protection.”

The Los Angeles Times’ Garrett Therolf reported that David Sanders, chair of the commission, was a possible candidate.

Ridley-Thomas, while commending Sanders’ work, was quick to say that no decisions have been made, and that all applications will be accepted.

“The process will be wide open, wide open, wide open,” Ridley-Thomas said.

Victor Valle is a reporter at the Chronicle of Social Change.

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1 Comment

  1. The Board of Supervisors has ignored the problem of the Department of Child and Family Services as the death rate of children mounts in Los Angeles under their scrutiny. The appointment of the Blue Ribbon Commission was a smoke screen to avoid the Board’s foot-dragging taking to task the failures of DCFS. The recommendations are useless from the Blue Ribbon as there is a backlog 860 recommendations from prior investigations, reports and inquiries into DCFS commissioned by the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors that have been completely ignored. They say “yes” to good ideas and then refuse to implement. The yearly budget for the Board is 26 billion dollars. The budget for the Department of Child and Family Services is 7 billion dollars. Follow the income streams of the 444 some odd associate contract vendors connected to DCFS, as they enrich themselves on the backs of LA County’s children. Regular Joe taxpayer needs to wake up, the 7 billion is protected to the vendors and to DCFS employees but, too often our children are not protected. After years of watching these cases we have observed that the department too often targets safe, fit parents to lose their children to their contractors and….we have observed that perversely…DCFS favors abusers who severely neglect, rape and murder their children… Thus the appointment of the Blue Ribbon when things got too hot for them over the death of 8 year old Gabriel Fernandez. There were so few recommendations adopted after 8 months of meetings..and so many problems expressed to the Blue Ribbon that went unaddressed, unconsidered and were not even mentioned in the report to the Board. Time will tell.. but so many children like Gabriel have no time left and are left crying into the void as the system is clogged, for easy money, with children who should have never been detained in the first place. Take a look, shine a light. Sunshine is the best disinfectant in this dark, secret, dangerous place.

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  1. June, 2014 – Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

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