L.A. Child Protection Director Seeks Community Input

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.

Attendees prepare to vote on the child welfare objectives they most strongly support for Los Angeles.
Attendees prepare to vote on the child welfare objectives they most strongly support for Los Angeles.

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.

The objective that received the most votes pertained to permanency for youth.
The objective that received the most votes pertained to permanency for youth.

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.”

Martin Luther King. Jr. Outpatient Center recently re-opened after closing in 2007.
Martin Luther King. Jr. Outpatient Center recently re-opened after closing in 2007.

Holden Slattery is a Media for Policy Change Fellow and a graduate student at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.

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Holden Slattery
About Holden Slattery 51 Articles
Holden is the distribution and engagement manager for Fostering Media Connections and a general assignment reporter for The Chronicle of Social Change.

3 Comments

  1. Yes, it’s great to have these conversations with professionals, relative caregivers, youth and foster parents – but what about parents whose children have been in foster care? These are the people that the child welfare system must better engage in supports before family crises escalate or to return kids safely home. Parents can provide insight on how to make it safe for families to reach out for help — and about expanding access to the supports they’ve found valuable.

  2. Heres ideas.
    Please submit to appropriate people
    1. Foster Care Child Advocate. A hotline and staff readilly available to youth in the system or incacerated to serve as an ADVOCATE and to help them from getting lost in the system.
    2. Parent ADVOCATE. Ahoyline and staff readilky available and able to assit parents with AtRiskYouth, Referrals and to aid in Transition and Reunification

    I WILL PERSONALLY VOLUNTEER TO DO EITHER!.
    MY SON HAS BEEN IN COURT ORDERED PLACEMENT SINCE 1/2015 AND I AM CONSTANTLY SEEIMG FLAWS IN THE SYSTEM AND YOUTH GETTIMG SWALLOWED UP NOT EVERY KID HAS A STRONG VOICE. LETS GIVE THEM ONE

  3. I appreciate the efforts being made. I have worked in Child Welfare for 18 years, 16 of those years as a social worker in public child welfare. I especially appreciate LA’s collaboration and outreach to the youth, relative caregivers, community partners and foster parents. I am wondering if there is also going to be an effort to provide a voice for parents who are or who have experienced the system. It seems like an important perspective to have since they are the primary recipient of services (along with the youth and kids of course).

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