A commission tasked with overhauling one of the country’s largest foster care systems may recommend greater police involvement in the handling and tracking of potential child abuse and neglect cases.
“Child abuse is much more complex than just a crime,” said Daniel Scott, a member of the Los Angeles Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, at a December meeting.
The commission met twice in December and plans to issue an interim before the end of the year.
Scott, a retired sergeant and detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, cited a number of recommendations for Los Angeles-area law enforcement agencies and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Scott discussed cross-reporting to ensure every child abuse case received by the sheriff’s department is properly documented, and recommended that the district attorney’s office formally review cases in which law enforcement and DCFS reports indicate disparate assessments.
The commission also appears poised to recommend that every child abuse call be treated as a “call for service,” whether it is reported through the county’s Child Protection Hotline or directly to the law enforcement agency. In either case, the commission will recommend that law enforcement always conduct a preliminary investigation, which is not the case today.
The objectives of the interim report, as described by commission Chairman David Sanders during one of the December meetings, include reviewing the more than 800 recommendations the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has received in recent years. Sanders indicated that the interim report will focus on systemic issues – not DCFS as an agency – while looking for ways to immediately improve child safety.
The interim report will also provide an overview of what the commission referred to as a “roadmap” to improve outcomes for children. The roadmap will include three primary elements: reporting systems, decision-making, and access to effective services at the county level.
The final report will be issued after the commission concludes its work in April 2014.