After conducting two rounds of interviews with the four finalists, Los Angeles’ Board of Supervisors has still not decided who will be hired as the Director of the county’s recently formed Office of Child Protection.
Discussing the position in a closed session was scheduled for the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday, but the discussion was postponed and will be continued in two weeks, according to Genie Chou, deputy for children’s services for District 3 Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
During that meeting, the board voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, and hundreds of people showed up to discuss the proposal.
The second round of interviews took place on July 15, according to the board’s meeting agenda.
On Wednesday, during a break at a community meeting on data and analytics in child welfare at the University of Southern California, Fesia Davenport, interim director of the Office of Child Protection (OCP) confirmed that she has been interviewed and re-interviewed.
“I’m hoping that a decision will be made soon,” Davenport said.
Davenport, who previously served as chief deputy director of the county’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), said she feels a greater ability to effect change at the OCP than she did at DCFS.
“Working for DCFS you see a lot of things that need to happen, that should be corrected or need to be changed, and it’s difficult to do that because you’re just focused on core mission and task,” Davenport said. “I really appreciate being in a position where I don’t have the constraints of DCFS. I can effect change with the team, in partnership with the other county departments and the community-based organizations.”
Wendy Garen, president and CEO of the Ralph Parsons Foundation, attended Wednesday’s community meeting, which was organized by the Office of Child Protection. Garen praised Davenport for her performance.
“We know that she’s engaged and willing to do the work that’s necessary, and really whatever’s asked of her,” Garen said. “That’s a tremendous asset to this community.”
Elvia Torres, executive director of SPIRITT Family Services, also attended the meeting and said he supports Davenport’s community engagement efforts.
“Fesia’s been wonderful,” Torres said “She’s been reaching out to the community. We’re looking for shared leadership, that we’re being asked to come to the table and solve these issues together.”
Davenport was appointed as interim director in February. The creation of an Office of Child Protection was one of the most prominent recommendations to emerge from the Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon on Child Protection’s (BRC) December 2013 interim recommendations and again in its final report in April.
Despite repeated attempts by The Chronicle of Social Change to learn the names of other candidates, insiders at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration have been mum.
Holden Slattery is a Media for Policy Change Summer Fellow and a graduate student at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.