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.