In what may be one of its final sessions, the transition team tasked with implementing widespread reforms to Los Angeles County’s child protection system expressed frustration at the lack of progress towards naming a leader to the yet-to-be created Office of Child Protection.
The office was a central recommendation offered by the county’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, which was sunsetted earlier this year. The commission was established to fix the child protection system in the wake of a high profile child death, and a 2012 report that found systemic failures in the county’s response to reported child abuse.
The county’s Board of Supervisors were scheduled to begin interviewing candidates earlier this month. However, the board delayed the interviews until two new Supervisors are sworn in on December 1.
“The interviews themselves were postponed,” said transition team co-chair Leslie Gilbert-Lurie during the Nov. 24 meeting. “I was disappointed to hear that the interviews were postponed, but hopefully it will lead to a very positive result.”
The board had also voted 3-2 on October 7 to include members of the transition team in the selection process to fill the director position. But Gilbert-Lurie reported to the rest of the transition team that the board of supervisors was not actually planning to include the transition team in that process.
“What our office was told on the Friday before interviews that were set for Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon was that this was going to be in closed session for the Supervisors only,” Gilbert-Lurie said.
Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe had voted against the motion, which had been submitted by Zev Yaroslavsky. As of today the motion still stands.
The transition team also expressed concern over whether the search for a director had yielded a sufficient pool of applicants, suggesting that the board of supervisors were dissatisfied with the pool so far. The only person to go on the record with his desire for the job is Judge Michael Nash, presiding judge of the county’s Juvenile Court. What efforts will be made to bolster the recruiting process, and whether any progress will be made before the end of the year is unclear.
“What I would question is if the Supervisors were not happy with the search that took place, if they did not feel that they had enough choices, I don’t know how that search gets revved up, redone, and interviews take place again in December,” Gildbert-Lurie added. “I’m just not sure how that timing could possibly work.”
Gilbert-Lurie suggested that the transition team take a vote at the next meeting to emphasize the importance of filling the director position.
“It’s the kids that are waiting, that need this desperately,” said transition team member Janet Teague.
Christie Renick is Managing Editor of Fostering Media Connections.