Los Angeles Blue Ribbon Commission to Issue “Roadmap to Improve Child Safety”

The Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on Child Protection is preparing to issue its final report after holding a ninth meeting since it was formed in response to an audit of the circumstances surrounding 14 child fatalities in 2010 and 2011.

Those fatality figures were made public in the Children’s Special Investigations Unit’s Recurring Systemic Issues Report on the Los Angeles Department of Children and Families (DCFS), which was leaked to the LA Times in February of 2013.

Topics addressed during last week’s meeting included the lack of training for first responders and health care workers, the lack of cross-reporting and interagency communication, and the inadequate use of and support for community-based services.

Commission Chairman David Sanders, former director of the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services and current Vice President at Casey Family Programs, indicated that the commission plans to issue a comprehensive report on its findings, including a “roadmap to improve safety for children” by the end of the calendar year. As of November 26, the commission has been granted an extension through April 2014 to complete its work and compile its final report.

Sanders stated the Commission’s particular interested in research from University of Southern California researcher Emily Putnam-Hornstein, which showed that a major risk indicator is whether the child’s family was reported to DCFS during the child’s first year of life, regardless of whether the report was substantiated. Sanders also mentioned the BRC’s interest in the role of law enforcement, saying that law enforcement’s responsibility with regard to child protection is equal to that of DCFS. The Commission plans to provide recommendations on how the two departments can better work together.

Commissioner Daniel Scott, a sergeant with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, reported that the department has committed to training all officers to better identify the signs of child abuse by January of 2014. Scott said the Sheriff intends to formally recommend to the other 45 law enforcement agencies serving the county to do the same.

Blue Ribbon Commission meetings officially commenced Aug. 1, 2013, and have included presentations and testimony by representatives from a range of county agencies, court officials, and members of the nonprofit provider and advocacy community.

Topics addressed in the November 15 meeting included the lack of training for first responders and health care workers, the lack of cross-reporting and interagency communication, and the inadequate use of and support for community-based services.

Presenters included a Los Angeles County Coroner Investigator, a panel of LA County DCFS social workers including representatives from the Family Maintenance and Reunification Unit and the Voluntary Family Maintenance Unit; a panel of relative caregivers; the Association of Community Human Service Agencies, Foster Family Agencies and Group Homes; Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services; and the Executive Director of Stuart House, a program of the UCLA Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica Hospital.

Members of the Blue Ribbon Commission are:

  • Chair David Sanders
  • Vice Chairs Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and Hon. Dickran M. Tevrizian (ret.)
  • County commissioners Gabriella Holt, Marilyn L. Flynn, Richard Martinez, Andrea L. Rich, Daniel Scott, Janet Teague
  • Former county commissioner Hon. Terry B. Friedman (ret.)

The next meeting is scheduled for December 6, 2013.

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