Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors is moving quickly to address the role of public health nurses in child protection.
On July 19, Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis will issue a motion that would direct a handful of county agencies to determine the “feasibility, benefits and detriments, if any, and fiscal viability” of moving the 103 public health nurses employed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to the Department of Public Health (DPH).
The motion comes on the heels of a June 30 report issued by the Office of Child Protection. The report called for the consolidation of the nurses, and the termination of a program that pairs public health nurses and social workers on child abuse investigations. The Office of Child Protection is charged with orienting all the county’s child-serving agencies towards better prevention of and responding to child abuse.
The report, the office’s first since Judge Michael Nash stepped in as director, has sparked a robust debate about the role of public health in child protection and child welfare.
“I am very pleased that the board is considering our recommendation,” Nash said. “Obviously the motion only calls for a feasibility study, but it is a great first step.”
Top officials at DCFS, DPH and the Department of Health Services all said that they are in agreement with the recommendation.