Creating a child safety mobile app was not one of the recommendations laid out in the Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on Child Protection’s 2014 report. Instead, it was a recommendation made by a group of people who attended a child protection strategic planning meeting June 11 in Compton, Calif.
Seventy-two people who want to see improvements in the county’s child welfare systems came to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center and worked in small teams to generate objectives that they would like the recently formed Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection to include in its forthcoming strategic plan on child protection.
Attendees included employees and directors of numerous government agencies and local nonprofit organizations. The groups focused on the pantheon of child welfare goals: child maltreatment prevention, finding permanency for children in the system, safety and well-being. After they posted their objectives on the wall, attendees used stickers to vote on their favorites—the ones they would like to see in the strategic plan.
That strategic plan, itself, was one of the 163 recommendations made by the BRC in its 2014 report, which scored numerous headlines for decrying the county’s child welfare system as “in a state of emergency.”
But the Office of Child Protection wants more recommendations—ones that reflect the voices of people in locations throughout the county, according to Interim Child Protection Director Fesia Davenport.
“We know that the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations are going to pre-populate many areas of the strategic plan, so we’re looking for ideas for the gaps,” Davenport said.
This meeting in District 2, which includes Compton, was the last of five strategic planning meetings held in each county supervisorial district. The following day, Davenport said the OCP had decided to hold more community meetings to engage different populations before starting to form the strategic plan.
In July, the OCP will have one meeting aimed at the youth, one for relative caregivers and one for foster parents.
“Everyone wants to feel a certain amount of respect and appreciation for the work they do, so when you engage them, it’s not a promise that it will be included, but let’s have a dialogue,” Davenport said.
Sheryl Spiller, director of Los Angeles County Department of Social Services, attended the meeting to join the discussion about preventing child abuse and neglect.
“I’d like to see it more from the preventative side,” said Spiller. “Before the families get to the point of needing help from DCFS, there are some things we can do to help the families and provide services and resources to keep them out of the protective services system.”
Holden Slattery is a Media for Policy Change Fellow and a graduate student at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.