Transition Team Starts Planning for a New Child Welfare Czar

On July 18, the transition team convened by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to follow through on a wide set of child welfare reforms met for the first time.

After the Board of Supervisors voted to approve the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, it named a transition team to help guide the formation of a new Office of Child Protection and prioritize the recommended proposals laid out in the report.

At the first meeting, the team selected co-chairs, considered its role in the reform process and started honing a job description for the incoming director of the Office of Child Protection (OCP). The office will, if executed according to the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations, have sweeping powers over budget and staffing decisions in the county’s various child-serving agencies.

Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, and Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, a lawyer and prominent child advocate, were elected as co-chairs of the team.

The role and responsibilities of the new director of the OCP are the first order of business for the transition team.

“The most important work the transition team will do is to play a role in the selection of the director of the Office of Child Protection and defining and helping to structure what that office will look like,” Gilbert-Lurie said.

The group debated some the responsibilities laid out in the first draft of the description for the new director. Questions emerged about the how the director might successfully integrate child safety imperatives into county departments, the role the new director will play in creating performance indicators as part of a county-wide data management system and the ability of the new director to forge strategic partnerships at the state and federal level.

“Our job is to make it possible for this person to succeed,” Katz said.

Katz also led a discussion about the role of the transition team in providing recommendations to the Board of Supervisors in implementing the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission Report.

“We should go as far as we can in terms of specificity, and [the Board of Supervisors is] welcome to say, ‘No, we don’t agree,’” Katz said. “What we’re really trying to do is give them a big push forward.”

The next meeting of the transition team is scheduled for Monday, July 28.

Jeremy Loudenback is a Journalism for Social Change Fellow and a graduate student at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.

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